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Five Michigan State Football Players Talk About the Iowa Hawkeyes

Senior Offensive Guard Joel Foreman

At 4-1 in the Big Ten Legends Division, MSU is the position to control its own destiny…

“We have a great opportunity ahead of ourselves. These next three games are within a playoff structure – that’s how were approaching them. So we have a great opportunity to go down there in a venue like Kinnick Stadium and play a very good team. We have to come out and prove ourselves.”

MSU went 3-1 on the road in the Big Ten last year en route to a share of the conference title, can you draw upon those experiences for this stretch run?

“Last year, we were very successful in November and that’s something we’ve pointed toward this season. (As Coach Dantonio said) November is for contenders, so we know that we need to go out there and finish strong. We just played a stretch of big games (in October) and each game presented a big challenge. Each week, we pointed toward going 1-0. That’s our focus this final quarter of the season: to win in November.”

Iowa is a veteran defensive team with seven seniors in the starting lineup, including three on the defensive line, so what impresses you most when you watch the Hawkeyes on film?

“This team is very well coached, and you can see it in the technique they use. The defensive linemen are very good with their hands. This is a team that always plays hard and prides itself on being able to go out there and control the line of scrimmage. They will challenge you physically. That’s something that when you’re preparing for Iowa, you know it’s always going to be a physical game and whoever is ready for the physical battle for 60 minutes is going to win that game.”

On being presented with an opportunity to win in Iowa City for the first time since 1989….

“It’s a great, challenging venue. It’s a great atmosphere and any time you go in there and come away successful, it’s quite an accomplishment. Last year, we went there and we weren’t the team we should have been. That wasn’t Michigan State (football). So we need to go down there and compete for 60 minutes in order to be successful.”

The importance of remaining balanced on offense against Iowa….

“The last couple of weeks, we’ve really pointed toward getting the run game going. It’s a classic Big Ten game, so we need to go in there and control the line of scrimmage and run the ball. Whoever does it best is going to win the game.”

Senior Wide Receiver B.J. Cunningham


At 4-1 in the Big Ten Legends Division, MSU is the position to control its own destiny…


“We’ve worked hard this season to put ourselves in this position. We’re looking forward to going up to Iowa and it promises to be a great game, a physical game. We feel good going into Saturday’s game. Iowa looks good on film, so we know we need to come out ready to play.”

MSU went 3-1 on the road in the Big Ten last year en route to a share of the conference title, can you draw upon those experiences for this stretch run?

“There’s no substitute for experience. At this point of the season, you look for leadership, especially from the seniors and the captains. You lean on your seniors and it’s time for the seniors to make things happen. We need to respond and pick up the pace when things get rough. It’s our responsibility to help pull it all together.”

Iowa is a veteran defensive team, with two experienced corners in Shaun Prater and Micah Hyde. What do you see from this defensive unit on film?

“Iowa is a 4-3 base defense. The front seven is athletic, and the D-line is really good. With its scheme, Iowa relies on their secondary to make plays. There comes a time in the game when the receivers need to make a play down the field. The quarterback is gonna put the ball up and we have to be aggressive, go up and make a play. We’re looking forward to the challenge of expressing our skills on the field. I’m sure the Iowa secondary is looking forward to the matchup too, so it should be fun.”

The importance of remaining balanced on offense against Iowa….

“It’s always important to have a balanced attack. Running the ball opens up the pass, and the pass opens up the running game. They both complement each other. Le’Veon Bell has been doing a great job the past few weeks. We know he’s going to come out and run hard, so we need to block for him on the perimeter and down field. The O-line needs to step up and control the line of scrimmage. If we can remain balanced, then offensively, we’ll be able to do what we do best and everything will fall into place.”

Senior Quarterback Kirk Cousins

On being in first place in the Legends Division through five conference games…

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“When you set out in August, you want to be atop the Legends Division in the end, and with three weeks to go, that’s where we are. So we’re right where we want to be. It’s just a matter of finishing strong and getting these last few games in so we can be atop the Legends Division and go to Indianapolis come December.”

On the scoring a touchdown in just 51 seconds on the last drive of the first half against Minnesota to take a 21-17 lead…

“I think it was very characteristic of our offense as a whole in terms of how much talent we have and how we can spread the ball around and how quickly we were able to score. And also, how it’s a game of inches, and how those seven points ended up proving the difference. (There were) other big plays that we had like Dan Conroy’s field goal and special teams, so there were all kinds of plays out there. Certainly that drive at the end of the first half was very important and gave us some momentum going in, and obviously proved to be the difference at the end.”

On playing with emotion and wanting to play five more games in his career, not just four…

“That’s part of being a senior. You’re coming down to your last stretch and you want to make the most of it; you want to finish as strong as you ever have. Sometimes it gets brought out the wrong way, and sometimes it gets brought out the right way. Certainly I’m being coached to make sure I don’t hurt my team with my emotion. It will be important going forward to just use my passion and channel it to turn into wins for our team.”

On playing on the road…

“I think the most important thing to draw upon is the fact that so many of the guys who won those games last year and made big plays in those past games are still here: the Edwin Baker’s, the Le’Veon Bell’s, the Larry Caper’s, the Keith Nichol’s. The list goes on and on, I could list guys forever. We do have a lot of experience and the guys know how to win on the road, they’ve done it before in tough environments with a lot on the line. This week is no different. Certainly we will learn from the lack of success we’ve had on the road this year and just keep moving forward.”

Senior Safety Trenton Robinson

On the stretch run…

“We were in this position last year and it didn’t pan out the way we wanted it to (losing at Iowa). This year, we’re just focused on getting it done. I’m truly excited about getting an opportunity to go back there (Iowa) and change it, make it the way we want it to be and not have to worry about all of the other stuff (tiebreakers). This is an exciting feeling. To be back in control of our own destiny is great.”

On Iowa’s Marcus Coker…

“He’s a big, physical running back. Coach (Pat) Narduzzi was just talking about it today, they recruited him as a fullback because he’s a big guy. You have to go in there and you have to hit him and wrap him up, because he bounces off tackles and he runs very hard.”

On Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg…

“He has a good arm. He’s different than the quarterbacks we’ve faced in the past four weeks, but he’s going to go out and try and make plays.”

On wide receiver Marvin McNutt…


“Marvin McNutt is a real big guy, so we’ll have to have good coverage on him. We’ll have to make plays on the ball. We’ll have to go up for it, because he’s going to go up for it when it’s up in the air. He’s really their go-to guy.”

Sophomore linebacker Max Bullough

On Iowa’s Marcus Coker…

“He’s really a big guy. We’ve seen some similar running backs at Wisconsin and other teams down the stretch, but I think he’s one of the most physical backs we’re going to see all year. We’re looking forward to playing against him. He’s going to be a great challenge for our defense. Their whole offense has been consistent over the past few years, but it’s going to be an especially difficult challenge because this game means so much.”

On Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg…

“He’s been consistent and I think he’s been a good leader for them. He doesn’t have a lot of experience, but then again, I have the same amount of experience he has. We’re all out there playing the same game, so we’ll see what happens on Saturday.”

On playing on the road and drawing from last year’s wins at Michigan, Northwestern and Penn State…

“I think it’s huge. Going back to the game last year at Iowa, that was really disappointing for us. We had the Rose Bowl in our sights going into that game, and we kind of let it slip away. We didn’t show up the way we wanted to, so this year it’s an opportunity to get that back. It’s nice to go over there and have another chance at it – you only have so many chances to do things, and this is one of them.”