Michigan State Star Max BulloughÂ Goes In Depth on Spartan Football with the Season Right Around the Corner
Q: What are some of the keys to stopping teams at the end, finding those inches in the last 2 minutes?
A: Itâ€™s about not being tired. Itâ€™s about overcoming being tired because itâ€™s the end of the game most likely. And itâ€™s about being able to slow yourself down and realize that theyâ€™re doing the same plays in the last 2 minute drive that they were in the 1st quarter. So if you can just stop and think and understand that that formation means that play no matter if itâ€™s in a 2 minute situation or not, like we stopped them in the first half because you know those things are coming, then weâ€™re gonna be successful. So those are the things that are hard for some guys to really slow themselves down and do. Thatâ€™s where we can be more successful.
Q: As you mentioned, last year your players kinda got away from that. Is that what kinda went wrong last y ear?
A: I just think in general when an offense is moving fast that itâ€™s hard to make as many pre-snap reads and read your keys where they are. Itâ€™s not as easy to do that. So I think thatâ€™s where you can always become more better at that.
Q: Do players pay any attention to who rotates into the schedule Big 10-wise and who goes off? Do you pay a attention to that?
A: Oh yeah, absolutely. We have a completely different schedule. Itâ€™s changed from both the last few years to this year. We donâ€™t get to play a few of the teams that weâ€™ve had great games with the past few seasons. We also get to play some teams that we havenâ€™t had a chance to play in awhile. For me, itâ€™s exciting. Iâ€™ve played all thoseâ€¦ Wisconsin, I feel like Iâ€™ve played them twelve times in the last three years. Now I get to play teams like Purdue and Illinois. Iâ€™ve never played thereâ€¦I guess Iâ€™ve played Purdue but I still have never played at Illinois or anything like that. So itâ€™s just fun to play those teams. Iâ€™ve never really had much experience against them.
Q: Do you feel that those games against Wisconsin built up that rivalry between you two?
A: I donâ€™t think so. I think thatâ€™s kind of a new born rivalry deal. I donâ€™t know if itâ€™s necessarily called a rivalry. But itâ€™s definitely built up its legacy the last few years and thatâ€™s because for two reasons: Itâ€™s been close games every time weâ€™ve played them because those games have meant something. Whether it was to go to the Big 10 Championship or whether itâ€™s in the Big 10 Championship or whatever it is. Itâ€™s because those games have been important.
Q: Is there a team now going on to the schedule or one thatâ€™s already there that you feel itâ€™s starting to happen too?
A: Well, I think just as the schedule started to turn around this year, they all start to develop now. But obviously every time you play a team like Michigan, now it means something even more in terms of going to the Big 10 Championship game. I think thatâ€™s something that would have to develop in the next few years.
Q: With Reschke coming in this year, what are you looking to do with him to get him ready as your heir-apparent supposedly?
A: Well, just be there for him if he has any questions to ask. Try and direct him as much as I can. Sometimes you kinda gotta get a feel for a guy. Sometimes that guy doesnâ€™t want you telling him what to do necessarily just because he learns better by himself. Or if he does want you to teach him, thatâ€™s something Iâ€™ll kinda get a feel for at camp. Iâ€™ll begin with just being there for him. Whenever he has a question Iâ€™ll be there to answer it for him. Sometimes when a coach is yelling at ya and barking at ya you donâ€™t really understand exactly what he means or how youâ€™re supposed to do it. I think I can kinda be that buffer that will allow him to decipher that information a little bit easier.
Q: Have you got to spend any time with him so far or talk to him at all?
A: A little bit, yeah. Weâ€™ve had workouts and heâ€™s done great at that. This is all the freshmen have done. Freshmen always do really good at workouts coming in to the summer. Other than that, weâ€™ve had 7 on 7â€™s which are a little tough to teach because itâ€™s such a little part of the game. Iâ€™ve talked with him a little bit, weâ€™ve hung out. Really, camp is when that really starts.
Q: What do you expect from him from the little that youâ€™ve seen so far?
A: I expect him to be a good player. Thereâ€™s a lot of expectations on him, whether itâ€™s his expectations of himself or this programâ€™s expectations of himself. We expect a lot out of him. He needs to have a good year as a freshman. It doesnâ€™t necessary mean getting on the field and having 100 tackles. That means learning the defense, being able to control the second team huddle, being able to learn how to scout a team, to learn how to know what the other teamâ€™s gonna be doing even if youâ€™re not gonna be on the field that week. Itâ€™s just doing all the little things, so then when it actually means something and youâ€™re the guy, thatâ€™s second nature to you.
Q: Coach has talked about chasing excellence . You guys have kind of rallied around that phrase. What does that mean to you?
A: Chasing excellence just means going out there, whether itâ€™s a workout, a practice or a game, and doing things to the best of your ability, to the best of this teamâ€™s ability. Chasing excellence is kind of a double sided thing because you wanna excel and be excellent to reach that excellence which is the Big 10 Championship, the Rose Bowl. So I think if youâ€™re able to conduct yourself in that way, then excellence is kind of the goal at the endâ€¦the end result, excuse me.
Q: There were so many close games that didnâ€™t go your way last year. Do you feel like youâ€™re close to that excellence that youâ€™re chasing right now?
A: Yeah. You go back to last yearâ€¦we lost 5 games by a total of 13 points, or whatever it is. Thereâ€™s no one that would argue that weâ€™re not close. We won those games the previous two years. Now itâ€™s just getting back and being able to stop that team at the end of the game or hold the ball for a couple more downs at the end of the game. So yeah, weâ€™re right there.
Q: You had another close game in the bowl game and you won that one. Does that help boost your guysâ€™ mentality a little bit?
A: Yeah. Hopefully that can kind of be a stepping point for us moving forward. I think the bowl game is always kinda the first game of the next year just because thatâ€™s what you remember the most. So yeah, winning that game was extremely important. It kind of springs us forward into having that confidence that we need to win those games this year.
Q: Have you seen a transformation in your position and in yourself in the game, with a lot of programs going to spread offense? Having to change your game and to cover more, trying to get more guys outside the box?
A: for me, itâ€™s just that I gotta be more mobile. I gotta be able to run sideline to sideline even more so when you play those spread teams. And then a lot of times do it even quicker because a lot of times itâ€™s no huddle. Iâ€™m usually still in the middle and I really donâ€™t leave the middle very often. But I just have to be able to be more mobile.
Q: Coach also talked about his goal for the offense to score 28 points a game. If that happens, how do you project your season to play out?
A: Iâ€™d say weâ€™re on the undefeated if they get 28 points a game.
Q: Discuss your thoughts on your brother Riley at RB?
A: Extreme amount of learning to do both on and off the field, because he hasnâ€™t seen very much. Heâ€™s just gonna be that much better than everyone... Everyone criticizes him or praises him for what he did the last two weeks of spring ball. Give the kid a chance to actually win the position and show you what he can do.
Q: Do you think youâ€™re gonna see him back at linebacker? Heâ€™s listed #1 at the position.
A: I donâ€™t think weâ€™ll see him back at linebacker. Only because I think itâ€™s hard to put a kid on running back, give him carries and then move him back to a position where he donâ€™t get the ball. I think thatâ€™s number one. Thatâ€™s tough. Number two, I donâ€™t think Rileyâ€™s gonna excel at that position. Heâ€™s gonna take it, learn with it, run with it and itâ€™s gonna be too hard for them to move him from that position once he gets comfortable.
Q: I know youâ€™re close with all your teammates, with this freshman coming in, Reschke, seems to have a little bit of your mentality. Can you talk about what you learned about him already?
A: Heâ€™s obviously young. Heâ€™s just gotta learn. Heâ€™s gotta learn his role a little bit. Heâ€™s gotta start to understand the game better, just like any freshman does. This camp is really important for him. This camp and this entire season was one of the most important for me in my freshman year. Heâ€™s gotta learn the defense, number one. Heâ€™s gotta learn how to scout opponents. Heâ€™s gotta learn how to change the defense week to week because of the opponents. Heâ€™s gotta be able to take control of that second team huddle. I know that sounds like a little thing, but thereâ€™s second team defense every week in practice and he has to have control of that. So those are the things that he needs to learn and thatâ€™s why Iâ€™m gonna be there for himâ€¦to help him through that. Iâ€™m sure Iâ€™ll be his roommate in camp and weâ€™ll go from there.
Q: Obviously he does have a lot to learn, but thereâ€™s gotta be a quality he already has thatâ€™s made Dantonio and Narduzzi so excited about him. What is it that a mikeâ€™s gotta have to be that guy?
A: Heâ€™s obviously a playmaker. He got here from making plays, all the high schools guys can. So he can make plays, we know that. He has a presence about him that people notice. You walk around and a lot of his classmates listen to him. I canâ€™t really describe it other than that he has a presence about him. You know that heâ€™s gonna be able to stand in front of people and theyâ€™re gonna listen when his times comes.
Q: Youâ€™ve kinda made your presence known more vocallyâ€¦like after the Minnesota game and TCU game. Do you think weâ€™ll hear even more of that from you or do you think thereâ€™ll be more vocal leadership from many different places because thereâ€™s more seniors?
A: I think thereâ€™ll be more vocal leadership from many different places. I think mine will increase that much more as well, just having the position that Iâ€™m in. The position of leadership Iâ€™ve been in the last 2-3 years. So mine will increase and it will in other places too. A guy like Blake Treadwell whoâ€™s here this week, obviously heâ€™s stepped up as a leader. Heâ€™s gonna do a good job on the offensive side. Itâ€™s hard to pick and choose those times. Sometimes you do it and you donâ€™t know if it was right to do it or not, but you just have to take a chance. It ended up working a couple of times. I can tell you, all of us have done it in times where we shouldnâ€™t have done it and as many times as we have we should. So itâ€™s just trying to pick the right ones.
Q: Having a game like that Nebraska game with Martinez and the spread was able to do. How much do you rake yourself over the coals for having this high standard of success that you have?
A: We would have won that game if they didnâ€™t call back Darquezeâ€™s pick 6. But yeah, youâ€™re right, we didnâ€™t stop them. Theyâ€™ve been pretty successful against us the last two years and itâ€™s a blemish on our record, on our track record the past few years on defense . Thatâ€™s a focal point for this year. We gotta get past that hurdle. We gotta beat Nebraska. We gotta play better against them. We give credit to them. Theyâ€™re a good football team. Their team has very, very fast football playersâ€¦
Q: Is he the fastest Big 10â€¦
A: I think so, yes. Without a doubt.
Q: It looked like it. Those type of options seem to give aggressive, fast defenses a hard time. Is it almost like they use your speed against you?
A: Almost every team we play is a spread offense like that and we stopped them fine. I donâ€™t think itâ€™s necessarily their offense because they do similar things that Michigan used to do, that Indiana does and all those other schools do. So I donâ€™t think itâ€™s necessarily the offensive or the defensive scheme. Itâ€™s just that I think they outplayed us.
Q; What kind of perception does it give the players to make the quarterbacks live in spring practice?
A: I think it makes it more fun for the defense, makes it more realistic and more live for us so weâ€™re more motivated to play better and to get to the quarterback. I think it sends a message to the quarterbacks that this is real. This competition is real and itâ€™s live and they need to perform under pressure. Because it is. Itâ€™s much different. Much, much different at any position when the quarterbackâ€™s live. Because you gotta finish on defense. At quarterback you gotta make a throw when you know youâ€™re gonna get hit, which is very different than getting tagged when youâ€™re running by. I think that sends a message to the whole team.
Q: Who were a couple of guys during spring ball that looked to be really poised for a breakout year?
A: I think Jairus Jones had a great spring. Moving to linebacker was obviously a tough move, as it would be for anyone. And AJ Troupâ€¦if you were gonna name two guys that had the best spring, it was AJ Troup. Unfortunately he got hurt over the summer, but he was really poised to really breakout and I feel for him.