Monday Football Press Conference: Michigan State Week

Oct. 28, 2013

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Game Notes PDF | Game Central

Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke

Opening statement ... "It's always an exciting week -- believe me -- I think on both campuses, both schools, both programs. The opportunity to play in a rivalry that has a lot at stake, obviously with both of us being in the same division. They are an awfully good football team. I think they've come a long way from earlier in the season as far as an offensive perspective. I think Connor Cook has done a nice job. I think their whole offense has really taken off and you can see it. We pay attention throughout the year but they are a football team -- their defense is as good as any and that's going to be a real challenge for us. Playing up in East Lansing is always a little bit of a challenge; I think any time you play away from home, it just is part of it, to make sure that our focus and discipline as a team has to spot-on for us to go out and compete at our highest level, that's what we have to do. We are excited, it's going to be a fun week."

On embracing physicality this week ... "You hope your team does the same thing (as Michigan State). We've been inconsistent in that department. They all know -- the guys who have been here, I think there were 27 of them who were in East Lansing two years ago -- they understand that it is physical next five weeks and it starts with the physicality that Michigan State will play with."

On the importance of winning this week to stay in the Big Ten race ... "Number one, there is so much passion for this football game for Spartans and Wolverines -- it's something that you as a coach or competitor that you understand and you look forward to it. The other part of it, the other piece of the puzzle, it is an important football game when you look at where we want to be and where they want to be at the end of November."

On a facet Michigan that needs to improve going into the game ... "I think our special teams need to get much better. I don't think we've punted the ball as well as we need to. We've covered at times the way we've needed to. Big plays, defensively -- we can't give up those big plays and we can't have those lapses. From an offensive standpoint you always want to be able to have a running game and you count on the guys up front to be physical on the line of scrimmage to get Fitz (Touissant), or whoever it may be in the backfield, started."

On Michigan's guards defending Michigan State's blitzes ... "With those two guys (Kyle Bosch and Eric Magnuson), you've got nine other guys out there with them. Believe me, there are some guys who will be there for the first time in more significant roles than they were in (in 2011). I think how we handle their defense and their front, their front seven, how we get off bump coverage and all of those things with as tight as they play, those are all things we're going to learn. I'd like to know a little more before the game, but that's not going to be the case."

On Michigan building an identity in this game ... "I think it gives you a little bit of an idea for sure. There is no doubt that I think every part of this game -- from the offense to the defense and every fabric of whatever it is -- you're going to find something out about your team."

On relying on Devin Gardner without asking too much of him ... "You can't give the ball away, and I think (Michigan State) leads the conference in turnover margin, but we've got to do a great job of taking care of the football, a great job of decision-making. I think a lot of it -- and you asked specifically about Devin -- a lot of it for guys is the fundamentals that you play with and the techniques, and not getting yourself out-of-kilter with how you play."

On what is behind Michigan State's offensive turnaround ... "I think their offensive line is better, I think they are playing better together as a group. I think Langford is a very patient back and he's come on. I think the quarterback situation is settled now and there's not a question of who's going to play and who's not going to play."

On Michigan State's propensity to change its offense in rivalry games ... "You've got to prepare for what they do. Most teams are going to have four base running plays, four pass concepts. You've got to be a little different in some ways, maybe in how you call a game. But at the same time, it's the same plays. You get all the looks you can at those plays and that's what's going to help you."

On who will play guard ... "Obviously we're going to have the same lineup -- we should. Now if from Tuesday on we're not ready, then obviously Chris Bryant and Kyle Kalis, we think they are two pretty good football players and they could have an opportunity. But as far as Eric (Magnuson) and Kyle Bosch, both have done a nice job since the last time we played in the practices we've had."

On Michigan State's open dislike for Michigan ... "Well, we don't necessarily like them, either. This isn't an admiration society. It's a great rivalry. You've got two teams that are about 45 miles apart and that's what it is."

U-M Fifth-Year Senior Offensive Tackle Taylor Lewan

On counteracting Michigan State's physicality ... "We just have to play more physical than they do. They are a physical team. They have the Number One defense in the nation. It is a great opportunity for us. I know that Devin [Gardner] plays great in the big games that we have played in. I am excited for this offense, our defense, and the whole team. We'll see what happens."

On managing expectations in a rivalry game ... "I expect every single guy, whether they are a freshman or a senior, to understand the rivalry between Michigan and Michigan State, especially the guys that are from Michigan that understand the rivalry a lot more than other guys do. Like I said, you prepare, you prepare, you prepare. You get ready for a very physical game. It doesn't matter who it is. It's the biggest game of our lives right now because it's the next game. If we want to win a Big Ten Championship, we have to win the rest of our games."

On his key matchup with Shilique Calhoun ... "He's a very good player and a great pass rusher. They give him the opportunity to go inside and outside. He has a lot of one-on-one opportunities to go inside. He utilizes speed rushes. He's fast, he's long. He has great range and power to an extent for being 260 pounds. He has a couple of swim moves here or there. I've watched twelve hours of film so far. He's a good player, he's a really good player."

On helping Erik Magnuson and Kyle Bosch prepare ... "I want them to understand that this is a physical game, a very, very, physical game. You have to prepare for that every single snap and every single down. If there is little stuff here and there you have to keep calm and cool and play football. If worse comes to worse and they don't understand a call, and they're young and might know everything, you have to go one hundred percent from Point A to Point B and try to take someone's head off."

On the most unique part about Michigan State week ... "It's like high school. It's like a state championship game. We are playing for the State of Michigan and the Paul Bunyan trophy. It's a great game. It's fun. The last few years the game has been physical, and I am extremely excited for this year's game."

U-M Redshirt Junior Linebacker Jake Ryan

On how the team approaches Michigan State this week ... "This week is going to be a physical week of practice. We're going to prepare just like every single other week. We are going to play fast and play physical. It's going to be a fun game."

On limiting big play opportunities on defense ... We're focused on Michigan State. We're not going to focus on the past. We've been a little bit inconsistent, but I definitely think we're coming together as a defense.

On the differences between the Ohio State and Michigan State rivalries ... "It's for the state. It's a state championship. We don't like them and they don't like us. I think that's good and I think it's fun. It is going to be a fun game to play in. It will be a hostile environment."

On relishing the hostile environment at Michigan State ... "It is one of my favorite things. That's why you play the game of football, those road games that are just the best. Stepping in there and getting all the boos is sometimes better than cheers."

On what stands out about the Michigan State offense ... "They have a good run game. [Connor] Cook has done real well these last three games, and he had a great game last week. Their running game is doing real well. We just need to focus on how they run the ball and their tendencies. Looking at the film, they have been doing pretty well these last few weeks."

U-M Fifth-Year Senior Offensive Tackle Michael Schofield

On turning up the intensity against Michigan State ... "You don't have to look for an extra notch of intensity when you are playing a rivalry game like Michigan State. It just comes naturally. You are going to turn it up."

On understanding the Michigan State rivalry and how Kyle Bosch will learn to understand the rivalry ... "Bosch will get the rivalry the first play of the game. My first time rally understanding was also my first start against State. That was two years ago, the last time we were there. I didn't really understand the rivalry until I started playing against them. Then you realize how big and how intense of a rivalry it is. He'll understand it pretty quick."

On not getting bullied by State again ... "We talk about it all the time. As a senior class, there are a lot of us who played in that game [in 2011 at East Lansing] and we try to remind the young guys what happened. We talk about it all the time. We don't want to forget what happened."

On playing at a high level against Michigan State's defense ... "Yes, State does have a great defense. I think it will be a great test for our offense. We can really show what our offense can do if we do well against these guys."

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