College Football Notes & Quotes: Week 7
Spartan Nation talked to various Coaches around the Big Ten earlier this week.Â Hereâ€™s some highlights and insight from around the league to get you ready for the Conferenceâ€™s third weekend of league play.
On what he learned from the Spartansâ€™ experience in 1999 (6-0 start followed by two straight road losses), and any other similar instances, in order to avoid a letdown after this strong start:
â€œI think it speaks to the maturity of a football team, in terms of how youâ€™re able to take every single game and place it as the most important game of your season.Â Weâ€™ll have to be able to do that.Â This will be a test for us in that areaâ€¦As far as 1999; different players, different people.Â I think weâ€™ve responded in both years, in â€™08 and â€™09 (both Wins, after beating Michigan)â€¦weâ€™ll use that as a point of emphasis in moving forward.â€
On the momentum and mood around the Spartan Football program right now:
â€œWell, obviously when you win, you have a great feelingâ€¦The message we have to sent to our players is, again, â€œthis is about maturity.â€Â Weâ€™re at the half way point, weâ€™re not 10 games into the seasonâ€¦playing a good Illinois team here, at home.Â We need to win our home games, first and foremostâ€¦Thereâ€™s confidence here, weâ€™ve got an edge to ourselves in terms of the success weâ€™ve already had, and we need to build on those things.â€
On the emergence of Keyshawn Martin, and his reflections now from Martinâ€™s recruiting process:
â€œWhen we first started recruiting him, I saw a great playmaker playing a number of different positions.Â Every time he touched the ball, something was going to happen.Â Heâ€™s really continued in that vein since heâ€™s come hereâ€¦Heâ€™s a threat every time he touches the ball.â€
On the improvement in the Spartan Secondary thus far in 2010:
â€œWe continue to get better and better as we move forward.Â Weâ€™re playing better on 3rd down.Â Our guys have great deep ball judgmentâ€¦With opportunities to play, (young) players will play, and theyâ€™ll be prepared.â€
On whether an opponentâ€™s Offensive system influences his play calls for the Ohio St. Offense:
â€œI think the efficiency of which someone runs a systemâ€¦whether it be Wisconsin with their system of outstanding â€œpowerâ€ and good â€œplay-action,â€ and good drop back and movement of their pocket, and so forth, (or a spread attack, or alternative Offensive approach)â€¦ you want to make sure that you give them as few possessions as you canâ€¦I donâ€™t know that the system makes a difference.â€
On whether he or Ohio St. sent any of the MSU Coaches a commemorative â€œgold pendantâ€ in congratulations for the Spartans victory over Michigan last week:
â€œGold Pendants to the Michigan St. staff?Â I donâ€™t know anything about that other than some of those guys worked hereâ€¦and they earned some things of their own (while working at Ohio St.)â€¦I was busy that day (beating Indiana last Saturday).â€
On whether the MSU Defense showed anything Saturday that Michigan had not already seen from the Spartans on film:
â€œNo, they did some similar things.Â Weâ€™ve kinda seen everything throughout the years against our Offense, just as any Offensive Coach would say.Â You see the whole gamut of fronts and coverages, and movements, and things like that.Â What our guys experienced up front, they had seen it before, and I thought in the game they made some adjustments.Â In the beginning of the game, the whole 1st half, we felt comfortable moving the ball.Â But the 2nd half, we didnâ€™t execute as well. â€
On why the Spartan Defense was able to keep So. QB Denard Robinson under 100 rushing yards:
â€œThey did a nice job of tackling and getting off blocks.Â Again, theyâ€™ve got good players.Â And there were moments that we didnâ€™t execute as well, and Denard wasnâ€™t as sharp as heâ€™s been in some other gamesâ€¦Weâ€™ve just gotta correct our mistakes.Â And the challenge is huge this week, weâ€™re playing one of the best Defenses in the country without question, in Iowa, that doesnâ€™t give up yards to anybody.â€
On mounting concerns that the Wolverinesâ€™ depth has been completely decimated by injuries:
â€œItâ€™s a major concern.Â I think a lot of Coaches probably have it throughout the country.Â I donâ€™t know if Iâ€™ve had a season with this many season-ending injuries, with a broken foot, broken ankle, broken leg, and torn shoulder.Â Itâ€™s frustrating, and kinda limiting some of the things we can do, and probably forcing some guys into action probably earlier than we want.Â But thatâ€™s the reality, and weâ€™ve gotta deal with it.Â We try to do very limited hitting during the week, to try to get them ready, but at the same time you gotta do some fundamentals during the week.Â So Iâ€™m always holding my breath and crossing my fingers on Tuesday and Wednesday practices, especially on Tuesday, because we canâ€™t afford to lose anybody else.â€
On his impressions of the MSU Offense, and specifically â€œThe BBCâ€ (Bell, Baker, & Caper) led rushing attack:
â€œâ€¦As you turn the tape on and begin to watch, those guysâ€¦for gosh sakes, theyâ€™re running the ball every bit as well as they did (in 2008)â€¦I think it really allows them (as an Offense), because theyâ€™re running the ball so well, to play action, and the boots (QB bootlegs), with the Quarterback to really put a stretch on the Defense.
Theyâ€™ve kinda taken the philosophy that, just like if youâ€™re an Option Offense, you think that the Defense has to be â€œOption soundâ€ and â€œassignment free,â€ and all those things.Â Itâ€™s the same thing with what theyâ€™re doing.Â Because they run the ball so well, when you try to pack the box in there, then the play action will get you if youâ€™re not reading your keys.â€
On his impressions of the Spartan Defense, especially since the start of Big Ten play:
â€œTheyâ€™re going to put a whole bunch of people in the box, theyâ€™re going to force you to throw the football, and theyâ€™re going to stop the run.Â Itâ€™s what a lot of us do in the Big Tenâ€¦Theyâ€™ve got the All-American â€œMikeâ€ Linebacker (Sr. Captain Greg Jones)Â thatâ€™s just doing a great job and continuing to play well.Â They try to get you into 3rd and long, and then theyâ€™re going to put him on the edge and rush himâ€¦Thatâ€™s where he gets the majority of his sacks.
(MSU)â€¦A football team that runs extremely wellâ€¦theyâ€™ve got 11 Seniors on that football team starting, so itâ€™s a group thatâ€™s been around a long time and doing the same thing.Â The more times you do the same thing, the better youâ€™re going to be.â€
On the momentum building at Illinois right now from the Coaching overhaul (new Offensive and Defensive Coordinators) since last year:
â€œWell, the guys have really bought into itâ€¦The thing weâ€™re really trying to do is what our players do best.â€
On his assessment of the Special Teams challenge with MSU:
â€œ(Special Teams) could be the difference in the gameâ€¦I believe theyâ€™re second in the league in Punting.Â Theyâ€™ve got a returner back there, thatâ€™s the one area thatÂ theyâ€™re better than us (kick returns)â€¦leading the Big Ten, and a guy (Jr. Keyshawn Martin) that, every time he gets the ball in his hands, you hold your breath.Â Itâ€™s going to take a great effort in the Special Teamsâ€¦Itâ€™ll take all that everyoneâ€™s got.â€
P.A.T. (Perhaps Another Thoughtâ€¦)
Mike Hart never got it in the first place.Â If you listen to Hartâ€™s original â€œlittle brotherâ€ quote, he essentially said that the Spartans saw themselves as Michiganâ€™s â€œlittle brother,â€ so thatâ€™s why he tagged them as such.Â Someone gave Hart the wrong information.Â No one Iâ€™ve ever been around at MSU, since the late 90s, has seen it that way.Â Hart sounds like heâ€™s read a few too many stories from the stale Detroit media.Â Those people donâ€™t get it.Â They all too often recycle the same outdated and lazy material theyâ€™ve used for more than 20 years now.Â And they wonder why people have stopped reading their papers!
MSU isnâ€™t the same place it was when Magic Johnson was in school, more than 30 years ago now, or even the same as it was during the early 90s.Â No one in Green who arrived on campus after somewhere around 1995 thinks theyâ€™re any kid of â€œlittle brotherâ€ to Michigan.Â A lot Spartans in this â€œmodern eraâ€ chose to go to Michigan St. instead of Michigan.Â We see the University of Michigan as a relatively equal and complementary sibling rival.Â Now of late, if anything, big time Spartans athletics have made Michigan look a lot more like an over matched â€œlittle sisterâ€ than any kind of â€œolder brother.â€Â Wouldnâ€™t you say, Mike?
*Interact with Jonathan on Twitter @JPSpartan or inside the Phalanx Forum