Post-Game Quotes: Green-White Spring Game
 
 
 

 

 
 

April 20, 2013

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Head coach Mark Dantonio

Opening Statement...
What a great crowd out there today, even with the weather. Woke up this morning with snow on the ground. We had over 800 plus young people come to our youth clinic today, which is tremendous. We had about 1,200 - 1,400 people, with parents and everything, at our facility. I think that was outstanding. Then a great crowd came to our spring game, so I want to thank everyone for that and all of their support.

As far as the game itself, I think what you saw is how important turnovers are and how they can cut into plays on one side in terms of the white team and the number of plays that you have. When you return two turnovers for a touchdown, that's like a yahtzee deal. Your plays are going to be limited, but at the same time you get 14 points.

I thought our green team did some nice things, but they have to learn to stay in the pocket and not run around with the ball and take it as they come sometimes. I thought Connor Cook executed and threw the ball well, but had a couple of critical runs backwards and around and that's something he has to learn to do.

As far as the white team, I thought (Andrew) Maxwell was consistent, had some dropped passes. The wind was swirling out there; there were bad weather conditions. Nevertheless, I thought that he threw the ball pretty effectively, but you have to catch the ball on the other side.

We had some guys make some big plays. (DeAnthony) Arnett got involved and made some big plays; I was happy to see that. (Bennie) Fowler from what I saw and (Aaron) Burbridge made some big plays as well. So those three receivers on the green side did really well. I thought Riley Bulluogh did a nice job running with the ball. We threw some things in there from an offensive play calling stand point that were nice to see."

On the quarterback situation...
I think you leave here at the end of spring saying that (Andrew) Maxwell comes into the summer camp number one based on knowledge and consistency in terms of performance.

I think Connor Cook pushes him and quite frankly Cook doesn't make mistakes that can be easily omitted. He's right there. Because I think he throws the ball and moves well in the pocket, but you can't take a 5-yard loss and turn it into a 20-yard loss; you just can't do that. That's the bottom line of it. We've got to learn that and that's part of it.

It was Tyler O'Connor's first opportunity to play on live TV and in front of a large group of people. He needs to play with a little bit more consistency and play better. He had a big turnover for a touchdown. Again, he was playing with the white team so he didn't get as many snaps initially and we tried to force the issue at the end, playing him with the green a little bit.

As it is, it was nice to be able to overturn the referee's decision (laughing). I was really excited about that at the end of the game. You're trying to get the Big Ten Network off of the air at 4:30 p.m. and you're trying to run a two-minute drill, so it was a little bit out of whack. The green team could've used their timeouts at the end, as well.

I thought it was competitive game. I think our guys come to play and compete and have fun with it. We split it up. We don't make it "ones" versus everyone else, so it does get split up. You don't have people working with each other. We lost Kodi Kieler early in the first series who works on our second team on center. So we get ready to go."

On Riley Bullough at running back...
In my mind, he complements our running back situation. We'll see how our freshmen do when they come in. Then we will have to make some quick, tough decisions. We've got John Reschke coming in as linebacker, who is an outstanding high school linebacker. We've got Shane Jones, who is an outstanding high school linebacker. We need a guy is able to back up Max Bullough. Kyler Elsworth is a guy that can, but we don't like to back up seniors with seniors. But you can certainly do that. It depends on how our freshman linebackers come and play and how our freshman running backs come and play.

I think Riley shows the ability to play with a football IQ; he shows the ability to play on offense and the ability to play on defense. He gives us a powerful punch. You need to be able to counter that punch with a Nick Hill or a Jeremy Langford, too, or an R.J. Shelton. I felt like he has something to him. He's used to carrying the football and I thought maybe there were some possibilities there. It just depends on how they come in. It's a little bit of an unsettled position, but I think we've got some guys that can make some plays.

We had five starters that were out today; two defensive backs and three offensive linemen that have started for us and were out. To be able to put that on the field, on offensive line, a secondary offensive line, two different teams like that shows that you have some depth with scholarships players in there. That depth needs to come of age in the fall.

On what he was looking for in the game...
I wanted to come out safely, rule number one. Ezra (Robinson) had no major ligament damage so that's a positive. Shilique (Calhoun) tweaked his ankle so no major damage. Kodi Kieler tweaked an ankle so no major damage. So I wanted to come out safe. I wanted to come out penalty-free, didn't get that done. But again it speaks to how close their calling interference in the Big Ten conference. That's been a source of contention for all Big Ten coaches. It's great because I can talk about officiating today. It is what it is; we have to play what they call. There weren't a lot of delay of game penalties, not a lot of off-sides or holding penalties. So that was a positive.

I wanted to see the guys play hard; I didn't want to see the guys tag off on people too much. I wanted to see guys play through the whistle and I think we saw that. I wanted see guys play smart and keep our quarterbacks safe. But what you saw was active. There were a couple of guys take a couple of hits. The last thing I wanted them to do was have fun and I think they did that. I wanted it to be competitive. We tried to get things accomplished. It's never a perfect game.

Michigan State Defensive Coordinator Pat Narduzzi

On his impressions of the defensive performance...
I thought we did a good job stopping the run at times, but we gave up some loose plays here and there. Hopefully we don't have that problem next fall when we have all of our guys on one side.

On what individuals stood out during today's scrimmage...
Standing on the sideline it's hard to tell because you can't see very well. I couldn't tell you stat-wise what people did or what to make of it but we'll look at the tape.

On what he is most pleased with about his defense at the conclusion of the spring...
I'm pleased with the way they came out and practiced with an attitude every day, which is all you can ask for. The attitude, intensity and physicality that we have come out each practice is what I like to see.

On who has improved the most throughout spring practice...
Jairus Jones and Trae Waynes have both had spectacular spring practices. They were tremendous the entire spring and will really make an impact on our defense next year. I could probably name 10 other guys though so we will find out next fall.

On the defensive scores...
For a defense yes it was good to see those. I don't know who threw them or dropped them or missed blocks, but as you sit here as a defensive coach you obviously want to see a cleaner game than that. I don't want to see any turnovers for touchdowns when we're playing each other but I certainly want to see them against our opponents.

On the Riley Bullough to Max Bullough play and the preparation for it...
I think they prepared for that exactly zero times. Obviously it was the highlight of the day. As one of our defensive guys it was good to see Riley (Bullough) carrying the ball well out there. From what I saw today I think he will be able to help us out next fall.

Michigan State Co-Offensive Coordinator Dave Warner

On what he was most pleased and worried about with the offense...
Most pleased - I think you may not have seen it today, but we tried to mix things up today; we got a little more creative than we have in the past. Today, what you saw was Mark Staten being creative with his offense over on the green team. I continue to be concerned with our pass game, with our efficiency there. Throwing, catching, protecting, the whole thing put together. I think we made strides there but I think we've got a ways to go.

On the dropped passes from wide receivers...
I thought we did a better job throughout 14 practices of consistently catching the football, so I was a little bit surprised with what I saw. But I did see some great catches today too, which is very encouraging. So we've just got to develop some consistency there and those great catches certainly help us out.

On if today changed his perception of the quarterback situation...
Not a whole lot because you're working with your split offense. We're looking for guys who are making plays, so don't put a whole lot into this game.

On the play of Riley Bullough and on if he looks like a viable running back option...
You say it's been a couple weeks; really it's been a couple practices, basically four or five practices and even through those practices he's split time. He certainly adds another dimension to our offense. He's got some power, obviously, so you can see what he can do there. The limit for him there is still out there; he's never played running back and played quarterback on offense in high school even though he ran the ball. So we feel like if he gets a lot more individual work and a better feel for our offense he's going to keep getting better and better. I think it remains to be seen whether he's the number one running back. I certainly think there's a possibility of that. I think we've got a couple guys at that position - Nick Hill and Jeremy Langford that played well today and Nick Tompkins played well today and had a couple big runs. We know the bottom line is that we have to have a stable of running backs for our offense. That's been that way for the years we've been here. We feel like we've got three or four right now with Riley in the mix and they'll all get their opportunities.

On whether Andrew Maxwell is your clear number one quarterback...
I think he was a leader going in today, my personal opinion. But certainly, like a lot of positions, it's going to be an ongoing competition, but I thought Andrew did okay today.

On the play of the tight ends...
That has not been us; that has not been Michigan State football, and today was certainly not by design. It's something we need to continue to work on.

Michigan State quarterback Andrew Maxwell

On the white team's recovery...
That's what's most important is you have to be able to regroup yourself if you have a slow start. At halftime, we were able to regroup ourselves; I was able to regroup myself. The way we finished is what we're working for, what we hope to have kind of all game. We had that drive that ended in the field goal and then obviously when (AJ) Troup took the hitch to the end zone, that's obviously a huge play and something that we needed. So we finished well and that's what we're proud of.

On today's weather conditions...
It's no excuse because when you play in Michigan, that's what you're going to get. (The wind) never really picked a direction to blow in. In the first half it was kind of blowing south and then second half it completely flipped, then the gusting. That's not an excuse; you learn to deal with it when you play quarterback. Those are all things when we talk about managing the game, which comes with it, managing the weather.

On the green team receiving game...
(DeAnthony Arnett) played great. He made the touchdown catch when it went up in traffic, when there were two defenders on him and he was able to come down with it. That's the kind of player that he can be, that's the kind of player we expect him to be. He made some huge catches; Aaron Burbridge made some huge catches today. That's what you look for. The spring game is the most game-like scenario we get. You have fans; you kind of go through warm-ups; you have locker rooms, so you're looking for guys that will show up on a game day and make plays.

On the competition of the spring game...
That's kind of been the theme of the spring is how competitive we've been and that's what you hope for in a spring game, just to make it as competitive and game-like as possible. You put in 14 practices of work and it all kind of builds to this. I think it was pretty game-like; I think it was competitive and that's what we're looking for.

On the importance of his performance today going into the summer...
Anytime you can finish well, with a touchdown and with a win, that leaves you with a good taste in your mouth and leaves you feeling pretty good about how the spring game went.

On any disappointment today...
The one I was really sick over was the one I overthrew the post to Keith (Mumphery) on the third and short. He had them beat, we were past the safety, I just overthrew him and I was just sick over it.

Michigan State Linebacker Max Bullough

On the spring...
We had a good spring. I thought we got better in a lot of areas like turnovers. They showed today, more specifically today on the white side of the ball, but we got better. It was a lot of fun. The spring game is always fun because you get to do a few different things.

On Riley Bullough...
I'm really proud of him. He has always excelled at whatever he is doing, whether it is offense, defense, basketball or football. I'm proud of what he has done and I think he has proven he can play on either side of the ball.

On whether today was visible evidence of what Riley Bullough can do...
I think you have to come out and get battle tested. You have to be able to do it out in front of some fans and out at Spartan Stadium. There was no doubt in my mind because I have seen him perform his whole life and I knew he would perform. I guess if you are looking for that aspect, then yeah, absolutely.

On the defense being where it was a year ago...
We have a lot of the same guys back minus a few pieces, but for the most part it is a lot of the same guys back. It is just one more year under everyone's experience belt so why not be more confident. If it is a lot of the same guys playing the same defense then you should be more confident. That is why we are playing. We don't want to be as good as last year, we want to be better.

On what will make this defense better...
Like I said, we have a lot of the same guys back from last year. It just adds to the experience and we have pin-pointed a few areas like turnovers and getting pressure on the quarterback, things that we didn't do last year, and we have gotten better at them. That makes us better right there.

On quarterbacks being live in the spring...
It helped a lot. It speeds the game up. It is kind of awkward when the quarterback is not live. You saw it today. You get around the quarterback and you don't know when to hit the running back or when not to hit the running back. It is just kind of awkward. Having them be live helped us as much as it helped the offense.

On the offensive line...
They are a good unit. You look back to our line last year, and we got two of our top three guys banged up for the whole year. We got both of those guys back and they are a good group. Offensive line is kind of a rhythm and flow thing and you have to play together quite a bit to be successful. They started proving that towards the end of spring.

On the defensive line...
We got guys that have been in the system that are playing. We also have guys like Shilique Calhoun who got limited reps last year who have had a tremendous spring. It is about guys who have been here getting better, and guys who have limited plays in the past who are going to now come up big for us.

On competitiveness of spring...
It is very competitive. It's not the same as playing a Michigan out there, but it is definitely competitive. When you are the guy drafting your teammates, I feel like that made it more competitive for me.

Michigan State Running Back/Linebacker Riley Bullough

On being on the other side of the ball...
When Coach Dantonio first told me I was surprised. It was the Tuesday before practice, he called me in, and he said `what do you think about doing a little experiment at running back?' I kind of laughed, but I'm just glad he gave me the opportunity and I'm just kind of running with it to see what we can do.

On being compared to TJ Duckett and the opportunity to be the running back...
It would be awesome. I'm just trying to fill in on offense and defense, wherever they need me. I obviously love playing tailback so I'm just trying to do the best I can right now and see what happens come fall.

On being in the running for the number one running back...
It's definitely awesome. I also contribute it to the other running backs that have helped me since I've played running back. So Nick Hill, Jeremy Langford, Nick Tompkins, Andrew Maxwell have helped me a lot. I'm just trying to go in there and do the best I can do and today I think worked out for me for the most part.

On not seeing offense as an option when he first committed...
No I never thought I would play offense here. That's why I was so surprised when Coach Dantonio called me up and told me I was going to play some running back. I've had fun so hopefully I can continue on the offense.

On throwing to his big brother Max...
It's kind of like high school, takes me back. I played quarterback he played tight end. Really to us we've done that a million times. We did have a touchdown pass in the championship game.

On having his teammates' faith this quick...
It means a ton to have your teammates behind you. These are guys you're working out with, watching film with everyday. Just to have them with you gives you confidence really, just gives you confidence on the field and you need confidence in order to do good. They've helped me along, so I just contribute it to them.

On watching different film...
I've been thinking about that ever since they put me at tailback. I need to learn the offense more. It helps you if you know what every guy is doing. That's something that I'm going to try to do this summer.

On watching film of bigger running backs...
I could definitely look at them, but I kind of want to get my own style. I'll probably watch the film on this; I still want to see what kind of runner I am. I think watching film in the future is going to help with that.

Michigan State Quarterback Connor Cook

Thoughts on what was learned today...
I learned that we have some playmakers at the wide receiver spot. Guys at times went up and made plays and caught the ball. I know on the one pass that I zipped in to Bennie Fowler, the ball was behind him, he made a great play, dodged two guys and kept running. I also learned that our offensive line is good. Even with guys who are out, and with the backups, I felt that I was well protected.

On what he was trying to accomplish today...
Just go out there and have fun. I mean compete, try to be better than everyone else. Be better than (Tyler) O'Conner, better than (Andrew) Maxwell. In this job you just have to go out there and throw completions and make big plays; be a playmaker like coach says.

On cleaning things up...
If I just clean up some of the stuff I did, trying to do too much. I just have to play within myself and trust myself and everything that I do. Not trying to create all this stuff that is going on around me. But I felt like that is what needed to happen at that time. It was fourth down, it was the end of the game. I felt like I needed to make a play.

On the differences from a year ago...
I just feel so much more comfortable with everything; protections, plays, audibles, checks like that. Especially going up against our defense, this is my third year in a row. Including last year, last year in the spring and summer it was my third year going up against the defense. There is stuff that I see now that I never saw last year or that I saw in my first year. Just being with the same guys too, just being with the same wideouts, the same offensive line, stuff like that. You build team chemistry, you build team bonds. There are plays where you don't even need to look, you just throw to a spot and they will be there.

Michigan State Linebacker Kyler Elsworth

On turnovers...
That was a big thing that we were talking about going into spring ball, getting turnovers and not only getting turnovers, but also making a big play out of it. Getting the pick six, getting the fumble recovery and getting the touchdown. All spring ball that has been our one goal on defense, it's been the one thing we have all been working on. We've been keeping tallies on who's trying to strip the ball, how many strips each position has; that has been a huge focus. Today, Taiwan Jones was in on the tackle, and we were able to do what we did and get the ball free. Chris Laneaux had a pick six, I had a fumble recovery, we had a couple other picks that were in the game. I think the defense is really focusing on getting those turnovers because they are such a game changer. Our first two scores on the White team were defensive scores. It's a big game changer to keep you in the game.

On Jarius Jones...
Jarius came down (to linebacker) and is undersized. He came down and picked it up right away. He knew the defense when he was in secondary. The thing that Coach D always says is that the defense is a puzzle. You fit and you know your job. If everyone does their job that is when we get turnovers and you get stops. Jarius came down there playing outside back, he is very good at the pass and the transition into the run. He is doing great and makes our team dynamic.

On being a playmaker...
I just try to do exactly what the coaches ask. The defense is set up and basically is a puzzle. If you do your job and the guy next to you does their job, it's going to cause turnovers and three and outs. It just happened that I was in the right spot at the right time, scrapping over trusting that Taiwan Jones was going to get the spill or the tackle. I was in the right spot just trying find what the coach is looking at.