MSU Spartans
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Michigan State 28, Youngstown State 6
 
 
 

 

 
 

Sept.2, 2011

Recap |  Final Stats |  Notes

Michigan State Head Coach Mark Dantonio

Opening statement...
We got a chance to get off the field a couple of times, and we have to get off the field, then they score. We are off the field on third down and jump offsides, then we are off the field again on third down and we had an interference call. After that they score. I thought our offense did a nice job handling it; with B.J's [Cunningham] big catch and we played better in the second half. When you look at how we played here, since we've been here, one of the things that we sort of prided ourselves on is playing very well on special teams. We dropped a punt, we stop them in coming out situations, and those things are probably going to turn into points. We missed a field goal; snap is fine, the hold is not good enough, and I don't think anyone made big plays on the special teams. When you look at us, we offensively did ok, hurt ourselves and were not effective enough early in the game, and then we had a couple of nice drives in the second half. Then defensively, I thought we played much better in the second half. We played with much more emotion. They put the game in space for us, made us tackle on the perimeter; they have some pretty good running backs, and then a damn good, well-designed attack. The message is this is our first game, they all count one. We have got to get better and that is how we will take care of it.

On the comeback of Arthur Ray Jr. and him getting the start ...
It was a huge thing for me. The way that all transpired is Joel Foreman came to me and asked if we could do it. I said, `Well it's your football team, what do you want to do?' And he wanted to do that. So I said, `OK, let's check with Coach Staten and let's check with Coach Roushar, but I am ok with it.' So it was a selfless act by Joel Foreman and that is the beautiful thing there. I wanted to make sure our players understood that it wasn't Mark Dantonio being a nice guy, it was Joel Foreman being selfless. And I think that is a big step, when you have people like that on your football team who care about other people. That is what I have talked about - chemistry and leadership and those types of things. So that was a unique thing to see. And I am very proud of Arthur on that one play.

 

 

On the missed field goal, and what went wrong...
Snap looked good but the laces got turned towards the kicker. Didn't correct it, and it spun back, but still I think you need to be able to kick the laces a little better than that. But we'll work on things, don't worry. We will address our issues, I can promise you that. This is our first game so maybe it is good that we don't feel too good about ourselves. They have been saying a lot of nice things about us in August; it is time to get back to work.

On what worked in order to help get them off the field...
I think it was an adjustment. I think Coach Narduzzi did a great job adjusting. I also thought our guys played with more emotion and pressured the quarterback a little bit better. I thought we tackled in space a little better; we played much better in the second half. Credit Youngstown, Youngstown is a program with a lot of tradition. As I said, last year they were not behind, they were ahead in every football game that they played - and you can see why. Their quarterback does a nice job, they spread the ball around, they make some plays, they go no-huddle, and they do some different things like that. But, at the end of the day we can't hurt ourselves. If we don't hurt ourselves and that happens, it is a little bit easier to swallow. But when we hurt ourselves, those are the tough things you have to deal with. Offensively I thought we played much better in the second half. Early on we had some mishaps in the first series. You talk about penalties, the very first play we jump offsides, I believe. So that can't happen; it just can't happen. Defensively, we've got to adjust and go to game speed. It is tough to adjust, especially in a no-huddle offense, you have to get the rhythm of the offense down and I think we did do that in the second half, and that is probably why you saw us play better. It is a rhythm type thing, we have got to be able to adjust and we have got to make different calls.

On the motivation that this game provides...
I think everyone has got to take a look at themselves, coaches, players, everybody and go back and get ready to play the next one against Florida Atlantic. I think it can certainly serve to motivate us by asking the question, `Who are we? Who are we as a football team?' Hopefully that wasn't us out there. But we did win, and as Coach Perles used to say, 'They all count one.' Credit Youngstown, but I think at the same time we have the ability to play much better than that.

Youngstown State Head Football Coach Eric Wolford

On the overall impression of his team's performance...
Well I think the encouraging thing was that last year we played half a game of football and this year we played a little bit more. I think we're getting closer, but unfortunately being close in this game doesn't count.

On what he thinks he got out of his players tonight ...
I think we got to about 8:18 left in the fourth quarter. I felt like that turnover really changed the momentum and cost us right there.

On being competitive throughout the entire game...
We came in expecting to win. I know there is no one else in America that expected us to win but we expect to win; it's one of our fundamentals of success. They are a great football team, no question. Big Ten champs who are very talented and very well coached. That was clear.

On the positives of the offense throughout the game...
I think we made some progress and I liked some of the things we did. We possessed the ball early, won the time of possession battle and I think we were 50% on third down. We had a couple drops here and there but at times protected the quarterback very well. We moved the ball, we just couldn't get into the end zone.

On the problems with special teams...
It was our long snapper's first game; he's a freshman, but that's easily correctable. His first kick in a big game was about 42 yards which is just outside our range. I thought we did some good things in the return game and punted the ball very well.

On the improvement of the defense...
I think we're definitely getting closer on defense and the problems are all correctable. I think the big question mark everybody had coming into this game was that we had 48 new guys on this football team and 29 of them are on defense. And I think we showed them that we can play together and I think we have a chance to have a good football team if we can correct our mistakes and continue to work hard everyday. There are no moral victories though - and I want to make that clear. You either win or you lose, and tonight we were on the short end of the stick.

Michigan State Defensive Coordinator Pat Narduzzi

Opening statement ...
I can't wait to watch the tape. Things happen out there fast, I'd like to see how things are going. I think it was an average performance, typical opener. Youngstown, give them credit, I've known [Offensive Coordinator] Shane Montgomery for 10 years now and worked with him. They do a great job on offense, they were averaging 30 points a game last year in their first year as a staff, and I think you'll see those guys win seven, eight, nine games this year. So I think we played a good football team and I think we played okay. They dinged us a little bit, we bent but didn't break and gave up six points.

On his defense playing a little too "fast and reckless" early in the game...
I don't know, we'll see. That's all early in the game; tackling just wasn't as crisp as you'd like it. [Youngstown State's Jamaine Cook] is a good tailback, spinning off us and I saw our guys just throwing shoulders instead of just thudding him up. I think we got better as a team as the game went on tackling-wise. But again, it's our first look at a spread offense and since we don't see that from our offense, it's a little harder to get our scout team to do something like that. Overall, I talked to a bunch of the players after the game here and they were saying, 'Coach, we've got to do better against that spread.'

On Sophomore Linebacker Max Bullough's performance leading the defense...
It's so hard to see out there, it's so fast, we'll know a lot more tomorrow afternoon or tomorrow morning. I think he played okay. It was his first start; we've got a lot of young guys out there. [Sophomore Tackle] William Gholston's first start, [Red-shirt Freshman Defensive End] Marcus Rush's first start, and [Sophomore Defensive End] Denzel Drone hadn't played a lot at some of those positions. We'll see, there's certainly a lot of mistakes out there which we anticipated in the first game. But I think we made some plays today.

On the play of the defensive line in general ...
When I was in the locker room I had some recruits say 'Man that was some mad pass rush out there today.' And I was like, 'Man, I didn't see it.' They're throwing the ball so quick and tossing it and throwing jailbreak screens. It's not a drop back team - they're throwing quick slants and that kind of thing. They threw a couple deep outs, but, hard to tell. I'll tell you afterwards that's for sure.

On whether he observed the team being flat this week in practice or during the game ...
I thought the sideline was flat in the first half, but not really. We had a great Thursday practice and I didn't see them being flat but it's not Notre Dame or Michigan you're playing either - but it really was a good football team.

Michigan State Offensive Coordinator Dan Roushar

Opening statement...
I thought at times we did some things pretty well but certainly made a lot of mistakes, things that are very correctable. I'm anxious to get in and look at the film and determine exactly what it is we need to work on. I thought we had some individual performances, particularly in BJ [Cunningham], that I thought were outstanding. He had a great night and I thought Kirk delivered the ball pretty well. We started with a win, but I think we've got a lot of work to do.

On Arthur Ray Jr.'s start tonight...
Arthur is a tremendous story and I'm so impressed with his perseverance and toughness and all the things he's made up of - and it was very emotional. It was emotional for our football team and I was very proud of him, like our entire staff.

On his offense's play...
I'm anxious to watch the film. We've got a long way to go, that's obvious; but credit Youngstown State, they played hard. At times we looked like we could move the football, but at other times we just shot ourselves in the foot. We can't make those mistakes and beat a good football team.

Michigan State Senior Quarterback Kirk Cousins

Opening Statement...
Overall it was good to get the win and good to move to 1-0. I was grateful for the way my teammates hung in there, obviously their offense did a nice job tonight keeping the ball out of our hands. They were an explosive offense last year. I very pleased with the way our student section came out and the fan base in general. The first game of the year and the place was packed, which was great to see. So it was an exciting atmosphere, and obviously there's some things we need to clean up. Those things are all fixable - it's not an issue of do we have the right personnel or the right talent. Jumping offsides, dropping a punt, those kinds of things are all cleaned up; especially during week one, those things tend to happen. Week one to week two is typically your greatest improvement, so that's obviously what we're working for. Next week will be very important - to make sure we clean things up.

On whether he saw the team as being "flat" throughout this week's practices...
I don't think we were flat, the first game there is a lot of excitement but you've got to still execute. Sometimes the excitement and the jitters can turn into a lack of execution and I think you saw that at times. Ultimately I think time of possession was one of the factors; I think we only ran 20-22 plays in the first half, which just isn't a lot of plays. It's hard to do much with that few number of plays. So we'll work on some things. We've got some young players and guys who have switched positions, you guys know all of that. So we're going to have some mistakes understandably, but the important thing is that we get them fixed and don't see them again.

On Senior Offensive Guard Arthur Ray, Jr.'s start...
It was Joel Foreman's idea to have him start in his place. Joel and Arthur came in the same recruiting class, Joel's career has taken off while Arthur has basically had to sit back because of what's happened to him. It was a tremendous tribute to the way Joel operates--to have Arthur start in his place--and I think it's a tribute to our entire team and the way we carry ourselves. It's a tribute to Arthur and the type of person he is and how much respect we have for him. He's kept a positive attitude through all of this and hopefully we see him out there more in the future.

On thinking about B.J. Cunningham's receptions record while on the field...
It's always in the back of your mind, but at the same time when you're in the middle of a play, you're not thinking about it, we're just trying to execute. What you'll find though is that good receivers find a way to get open and find a way to draw the quarterback's attention. There were times tonight where B.J. wasn't the primary, he wasn't the secondary but he was the third or fourth option. But I was getting to him because he finds a way to get open. I think that's a credit to him and an attribute of a good receiver.

On the importance of Youngstown State's methodical offensive play...
It was very important, it reminded me of two years ago in 2009 when we lost to Central Michigan. We had very, very little time of possession. We felt that when we had the football, we were able to move the ball against Central, but just couldn't get the ball enough. I think the same was true tonight; we just didn't quite have it enough. But at the same time that's a very good offense, you've got to credit Youngstown State. They had a nice system where they were throwing a lot of underneath passes where they're designed to churn the clock. And they executed well, you've got the credit them.

Michigan State Senior Offensive Guard Arthur Ray Jr.

On what was going through his head when he first walked onto the field...
A lot of emotions, a lot of different emotions. I have been waiting for this moment for so long. It was a great feeling.

On the adrenaline of the game...
I had butterflies two hours before the game. I was like, man I miss this feeling. I have missed this feeling for so long. I haven't experienced this for so long.

On when he found out that he would start today...
I found out at pregame meal. Coach D told me to stand up and told me in front of the guys. I was ecstatic.

On the next step...
It's just the beginning. Everybody else's expectations for Arthur Ray has never been mine. It means stepping back on that field, proving everyone wrong. A lot of people thought I couldn't get to this point. I am ready to keep going.

On the emotions of the game...
Just a bunch of different emotions. The walk was a very emotional experience for me. I just thought about my days on chemo. I thought about listening to that first doctor visit when I first found out the news. It all came to this great moment.

On not losing hope...
A lot of people told me to turn around. A lot of people told me to go do other things. I never really listened to them. Football has always been my heart and my passion. If I proved anything today and throughout camp, it was that I can still play.

Michigan State Senior Wide Receiver B.J. Cunningham

On thinking about breaking the career catches record ...
It's always in the back of your head, but I wasn't thinking about it on the field. But when I got to the sideline people would tell me how many catches I had and things like that - but I wasn't really worried about it. I was just out there playing ball and if the ball came my way, I would catch it.

On what it's like to have his name on the top of the list with some of the other all-time MSU greats ...
There's a lot of great receivers on that list that came through here. It's a blessing to be a part of that group and just to be out here doing what I do- catching the football. I give all the credit to the o-line, my teammates, and Kirk [Cousins], for giving me the opportunity.

On if he thought the team was too excited for this game...
No, I wouldn't say too excited. With the crowd, it was a great atmosphere out there. For a lot of guys, it was their first game in college. We have a lot of stuff to fix up, but it's all fixable and we can fix and clean it up by FAU.

On how far this program has evolved since he got here...
When I first got here, it wasn't like that. We expect to be great. We know we can be great, so that's what we expect to be. A 22-point win over Youngstown State, we won the game but a lot of guys aren't happy with how they played. But like I said, it's all fixable.

Michigan State Sophomore Linebacker Max Bullough

On his play...
I think I played well, but I think the team as a whole, and myself included, we have a lot to get better on. We came out in the first half and were on the field a lot. The offensive had a turnover, but it is our job to get off the field. I think in the second half we were able to turn that up and make plays we were making, but on third down get off the field, and let the offensive do their thing.

On his excitement level for his first start...
It was incredible. It was a long day today, I can tell you that much. When we finally got on the field, we got chills and goose bumps. It was an amazing feeling for me and I was able to take advantage of it. I am happy for myself and the team.

Michigan State Junior Cornerback Johnny Adams

On the MSU adjustments in the second half ...
I think it brought a lot of momentum to the team. We went out there and started playing a little faster and a little harder.

On if giving up the touchdown but then blocking the extra point swung the momentum...
I think the blocked extra point helped us. They didn't get it going up like they wanted to. I think that helped us a lot.

On how he would evaluate the secondary after today...
We still have a lot of work to do. It was our first game, everybody got the jitters out now, and we have a lot of work to do. I think we are going to be pretty good. We are going to be flying around, we are going to be communicating and we are going to be playing football.

On whether missed tackles were a result of the team being too excited for the games...
It's exciting - the first game, Friday night. Even though we were playing a good Youngstown State team, I think missed tackles are part of football.

Youngstown State Sophomore Quarterback Kurt Hess

On whether or not six points was indicative of their performance...
I don't think it was, we probably only had six points because we made one too many mistakes on those drives. We can't let those drives stall, and we can't afford that against a team like this.

On the preparedness of the defensive schemes they faced...
I think we were very prepared. We saw a lot of looks in preparation two weeks prior to this game, and our defense helped us out a lot with what they threw at us. We didn't execute poorly, but we need to get a lot better.

On giving Coach Wolford four quarters of solid football...
I think we gave him a good portion of the game but I don't want to say four quarters. I would like to say we played four quarters and won the game which is what Youngstown football is all about. But we did a good job until about eight minutes left in the game, kept it close and gave ourselves an opportunity to win.

On his interception...
It's a throw I can't make and a read I can't make and I would take it back, but those things happen and I have to learn from them.

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