College Football Notes & Quotes: Week 5

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Spartan Nation talked to various Coaches around the Big Ten, Tuesday. Here are highlights and insight from around the league to get you ready for the Conference’s opening weekend.

Mark Dantonio

On the key matchups of the Michigan St.-Wisconsin game:

“Obviously when you play Wisconsin, you’re going to have to win up front. They’re going to look to establish the run…Their run sets up their pass situations sometimes…(Scott) Tolzien is an outstanding Quarterback, a very high percentage thrower. When you look at them Offensively, we’ve got to win with our “front seven” against their running attack…We’ve got to put them in long yardage situations at some point, and win there.

On the Offensive side of the ball, we have to control the tempo, we have to stay balanced, as we have, and use all our skill. I think we have outstanding skill…Special Teams is obviously going to be key, and I think the “X Factor” is playing at Spartan Stadium, with our fans. ”

On whether he learned anything new about his team from the unique perspective of watching the Northern Colorado game on television:

“I don’t know if it’s, “did I learn anything,” or did it basically cement what we already knew, that there is a system in place here. Our coordinators have been with us now, or with me as a Head Coach, for seven years. I’ve known these guys for a long time, our Assistants, and the way we do things…This is a program, this is not one person, and I think that’s the important thing to remember.”

Brett Bielema

On his impressions of the Spartan Offense:

“I felt that they’re much improved in Offensive Line play. Number 77 (Rs.-Sr. J’Michael Deane) is as good a lineman as we’ve seen to this point…They have a Tight End, 83 (Rs.-Sr. Charlie Gantt) who does a really good job in a variety of different ways for them, and that’s a position that’s always been a strength. As receivers, 82, Keyshawn, (Martin) does everything for them. (Kirk) Cousins is playing as high as I’ve seen him on film: the execution, the touch is on the ball, the finesse, the detail…The biggest jump from what I can tell from a year ago to this year…is the three Running Backs (The BBC), they all kinda have a little different twist on the game, but they’re all young and they’ve got really good talent.”

On the importance of matching a Home team’s intensity when playing on the road in the Big Ten:

“What we really try to stress here is that no matter where you play, it’s the 100 yards on the field, and end zones on both ends, and 11 guys that go out for both sides of the field, that are going to determine it…but you can’t be oblivious…we’ll definitely educate them (his team) on the finer points of winning on the road in the Big Ten.”

Jim Tressel

On how his program avoids complacency despite their recent Big Ten domination:

“The thing that we try to teach within everything that our kids are a part of is that passion to become the best you can be…and that there are certain things that you have to do, and certain things that you’d better not do. One of those things that you’d better not do is become satisfied or complacent. If you do, you’re going to see that you’ll have trouble progressing. But we’re all human…sometimes “life” teaches it, other times you try to get it across and they (players) can logically understand it…It’s a great challenge, but it’s fun.”

On the importance of having a QB with an “even keeled” mentality to handle the expectations and attention of Ohio St. Football:

“That will be our key, leadership across the board, most especially from the Quarterback position. When Terrell was a young guy, as a Freshmen pretty much thrust into an older huddle, he was just trying to figure out what the plays were and where our guys were going. Then as last year came along, he had a good handle on what we were doing and he was trying to figure out what Defenses were doing. Now as a veteran guy, you hope that he’s got a decent handle on what we’re doing and what they (Defenses) are doing, and he can also be a consistent, even keeled guy, so that as other players look at him and look to him, that he exudes that confidence that perhaps, even though it’s not going wonderfully at this moment, just stick with our fundamentals and we can get better…That’s the natural progression we need him to make…We need him to be very good.”

Rich Rodriguez

On whether he tends to game plan more based on the Wolverines’ strengths, or directly at an opponent’s weaknesses:

“I think it’s a little bit of both. Normally, you look within first…What can you execute well, what do you need to do, what kind of players do you have, what can they do?…But you’ve gotta pay attention to what they’re (an opponent) doing well, because they can alter some of your thinking.”

On whether he views playing the Big Ten schedule differently in year 3 than he did in year 1 as the Michigan Head Coach:

“No…I think every coach, when you’re involved in a conference, probably views your league games as having added importance…Most schools will set their goals as competing for their league championship first and foremost…I’ve always done that everywhere I’ve been…You talk about your league games the most in the offseason…and certainly this year’s been the same as the last few years for us.”

Kirk Ferentz

On the value of a game changer like WR Derrell Johnson-Koulianos to the Iowa Offensive attack:

“Unless you just run the ball every snap…but even with “option” teams I’d argue it’s probably true…it’s good to have good receivers…It’s really hard to do just one thing (run or pass exclusively), so you’d better have some help on the outside.”

On an assessment of the Iowa run Defense heading into a stretch of games against the Big Ten’s best rushing teams (Penn St., Michigan, Wisconsin, Michigan St.):

“We really haven’t faced anybody (yet) that was really committed to running the football…We’re going out find out this week (how good the Iowa run Defense is), we’re playing a back (Penn St. Sr. RB Evan Royster) that’s not only all-league, but all world, so we’d better be ready to go.”

Tim Brewster

On how he’s coping with the Gophers’ poor 1-3 start:

“I’m so immersed in my job and trying to help these kids…You know, I live and die with these players. Obviously at 1-3, there’s great disappointment there, but again there’s great hope there because we’re close. Those 3 losses very easily could’ve been victories…I’ve got great conviction and belief in what we’re doing, and most importantly I believe greatly in our players. We’re gonna have a chance to make a run here in the Big Ten, and we couldn’t be more excited to get it started on Saturday.”

P.A.T. (Perhaps Another Thought…)

  1. The NFL should change its scheduling policy to be more like the NCAA’s Big Dance by having games end throughout the day Sunday. NFL games should start games at 1:00 and 4:00 local time, based on the time zone, instead of universally kicking off at 1:00 and 4:00 Eastern, no matter what the time zone. Instead of the day’s early and late games all going at the essentially the exact same time, games should start and end at different times throughout the afternoon. Remember how the first weekend of the Big Dance seems like it features dramatic ending after dramatic ending? That’s not totally by accident. It’s also by design, with the varied tip off times. The NFL should not fear the different mainland time zones, but rather embrace them to build an even better and more accessible product for their fans.
  2. The NFL should reform their Pass Interference (PI) rule. Instead of Pass Interference penalties always being spotted at the point of the foul, the NFL should categorize the infraction to make things a bit fairer to the Defense. If the line of scrimmage is on the Offense’s side of the 50, any PI penalty should be 15 yards and an automatic 1st down only, essentially mirroring the NCAA rule. But if a PI call is made with the line of scrimmage past the 50 (on the Defense’s side of the field), the penalty should remain “at the spot of the foul.” This would discourage the outrageous 50+ yard PI penalty, and encourage a Defense to play more aggressive without the overwhelming fear that they’re always on the edge of a game changing penalty.