Post-Game Quotes: Youngstown State
 
 
 

 

 
 

Sept. 14, 2013

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Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio

Opening Statements...
I thought today we obviously got great play from our offense. The most impressive thing to me was that we made those 50-50 catches - those catches that are difficult to make. We made them in crowds with people hanging on you. I thought (Connor) Cook played well. He ran the ball effectively and controlled things. I thought he threw the ball really well. We were solid on third downs. Shilique (Calhoun) played well again. Anytime you don't have an offense get over 200 yards you know you're playing well defensively. So, big team win, go to 3-0 which is as good as we can be right now and thankful for that.

On Connor Cook...
I thought Connor played well. It was the plan to go with him and to stick with him if he had a difficult time. I thought he responded. Connor Cook is the number one quarterback.

We made that decision (for Cook to start) later in the week and said you're going to go. He was excited about that opportunity. When you get your number called, you're going to be excited.

He's always been a good practice player. I think all of our guys work hard out there. He had a very good Thursday practice. I really thought he threw the ball well on Thursday. We upped tempo on things on how he was handling the huddle and that was a positive.

I think we had great protection from our offensive line. He's always been pretty resilient in there and I think he showed where he's at. I think he had 191 at halftime and I think he only played one more series after that, so I thought he played well. I thought he ran the ball well and made some good decisions.

On the second-string quarterback situation...
I think that has to play out. We did not want Andrew (Maxwell) to play on a lopsided win like that. Tyler O'Connor needed more of an opportunity to show what he had. I thought he played pretty well, threw the ball pretty well and did some good things. We'll evaluate his performance off the game film. He got a lot of plays in there, which was a positive. I think I've said we try to slow the game down and give people opportunities. I think we've done that. We let it roll from there.

On the importance of the quarterback decision today...
I don't think it was vital. I don't think it was crucial. I think you want to make decisions as soon as you can, but sometimes I don't make that the decision, the players make that decision. They have to play well under some pressure situations and continue to play well. When it's close and you're going back and forth, you sort of have to let things roll as a coach.

On the team's performance overall...
I thought we had a sense of urgency. I thought we needed to play well offensively because we had not to level that I think we're capable of. Defensively, we played very well. We need to continue to do that and there are things on special teams that we need to get squared away. If you look at us offensively, almost 550 yards. I think we had one turnover. We had a turnover on a punt return. Offensively, I think 10 out of 15 on third down and one-for-one on fourth, so that's a positive. We ran the ball pretty effectively. Even though it was by committee, we ran the ball. I thought you saw some guys make difficult catches. Macgarrett Kings, Jr. was obviously very exciting. (Aaron) Burbridge made a big catch and run. You saw what (R.J.) Shelton could do on the edge a little bit. Bennie Fowler made a big play on a reception and I thought Tony Lippett played well and had some big catches. We got our tight ends involved a little bit in getting catches. We spread it around, which was a positive. Defensively, we did what we had to do. It was unfortunate they got a turnover down close. Obviously a kick return gave them a ball down close, within 50 yards, as well. Still, we don't want to give up touchdowns, but they had the one and something else. I don't remember.

On Macgarrett Kings, Jr...
I continue to say that Macgarrett Kings, Jr. had a great fall camp. He catches everything. His confidence is very high right now and that's what you do. You put a premium on confidence when you're a skill player, whether that's the quarterback, tailback, or wide out. When your confidence is high, you can catch it all. We put him back there for punts today and he responded with a 15-yard return, so that's something we have been wanting to do as well. He's a playmaker. We've got to get him the ball and touches to see how he responds.

On the tailback situation...
I thought Nick Hill played very well. He gave us a spark with that big run before half. He's electrifying at times. (Jeremy) Langford can do some things, but Riley (Bullough) is a little different. He's continued to grow in really only his third game as a tail back. He brings something different to the game. Those are guys who compliment each other in some sort of way. You had 25 or 30 carries between the three of them. I thought they played well and play-calling was good.

Youngstown State Head Coach Eric Wolford

Opening statement...
Obviously Michigan State came to play today, and we're disappointed in the way we played. At Youngstown State, we don't expect to come out there and slop around on the field like that. Obviously Michigan State and their coaches had those guys ready to play. Everyone was concerned about they'd be looking ahead to Notre Dame, but obviously they were ready to play. I think it was glaring that they controlled the line of scrimmage from the get go. We had some opportunities early in the game that were kind of squandered, and the game kind of got out of reach there. Basically it was a situation where we were unable to convert on third down. On offense, we were 2-of-12 and you're not going to win too many football games like that. On defense I think we were 10-of-15 on third down, and in time of possession, they were able to run the ball at will and that's a concern.

On his team's offensive struggles...
I think you have to give credit to Michigan State's defense, first of all. They're well-coached and we knew we had our hands full. We knew our margin for error in a game like this was going to be much smaller as opposed to when you're playing a team that you're better than. Our execution at times on some key plays just was not there, and that's all it takes and then you're punting the football. But that was the glaring difference.

They [Michigan State] were playing pretty fast on defense. We normally are able to get out on the perimeter and run and break some plays. And I think early in the game if we hit a couple of those deep balls early on that you saw and complete them, it's potentially a different game. But we let it get out of reach too quick. You can't turn the ball over. We had three fumbles today, and lost two of them, and you can't do it against a team like Michigan State.

We had some guys that were caught up in the stage today; some guys that were doing some uncharacteristic things and getting caught up in the arena or the moment or playing on the Big Ten [Network], whatever. It was kind of surprising to me. I thought we would have handled the atmosphere much better.

On Michigan State's offensive success, especially by Connor Cook, in today's game...
I don't think it's as bad as maybe they think. We couldn't stop a slant all day. They've got some mismatches. They've got a tight end that can be a mismatch in the passing game, they've got some good receivers and when those guys can catch the ball and run good routes, they've got a quarterback that can put it on the money.

On facing Michigan State's defense...
Their whole defense was swarming us so much that it was frustrating. I know that their front was getting pressure on us and stopping the run. It was hard to get a first down, and that's very frustrating for us. They whipped us pretty good today, and that's not easy to swallow. I expected us to play a lot better. It's disappointing. They were just glaringly faster than us, which was kind of surprising. They were just playing a lot faster.

Michigan State Co-Offensive Coordinator Dave Warner

Opening statement...
Obviously it was a lot better than it has been in the past couple of weeks. We got our passing game going but still missed some receivers which prevented us from being even better. But overall, it's a good feeling to finally put everything together. We put the ball on the ground one time offensively and one time on special teams which is something we have to avoid. Third-down conversions were much better and we really put everything together. But that's just the start because certainly we have a long way to go and a long season in front of us so hopefully it's just the beginning.

On the performance of the wide receivers...
I thought they did excellent. We had a lot of the young guys going again and we mixed some other guys in throughout the game. I don't remember any drops and I thought we ran some pretty good routes. Conner put the ball on the money a couple of times especially down the field which is something we've been lacking. It was good to put it all together.

On how close the quarterback battle is to being settled...
You'll have to ask Coach Dantonio about that. I think Conner (Cook) played well. We went into this football game telling Connor that this is his game. We definitely went into this game different then we have in the previous couple of games, so I think that helped him from a confidence standpoint, and he seemed to settle in and make plays. I've been saying it all along hopefully we can make a decision and settle it. Hopefully were getting a little bit closer.

On how satisfied he was regarding the running backs performance...
I think there were some instances where I thought we could have put our foot in the ground, and go north and south a little bit sooner and maybe run with a little more power. I'll have to watch the film and maybe I'll have a different opinion.

On what he saw in practice this week that led him to believe there would be a different outcome offensively...
Last week we had a very good Thursday practice and I was pretty confident we would have a good game. That didn't happen. This week we had another good Thursday practice but I think there was a little more sense of urgency from the entire football team. Coach Dantonio made that very clear to everybody on our football team. We played better offensively so hopefully it's a taste of things to come.

On why true freshman quarterback Damion Terry was not ready to play...
It was an understanding of the offense. He's got tremendous tools and he's going to be a very good football player for us. At the same time we want to be smart and protect him and protect this football team and not put him in before he's ready. The jury is still out. This doesn't mean he's on the back shelf the rest of the year, just at this time he wasn't ready to go.

Michigan State Defensive Coordinator Pat Narduzzi

Opening statement...
Overall defensively I thought we played a solid game. We'll see that tape but overall we got what we expected. We got a lot of different players reps at the end of the game. We got a couple different corners and different safeties and a lot of different defensive lineman in the game. The only thing is that Jamal Lyles didn't get any defensive reps, but caught a nice ball so were proud of him.

On status of injured senior safety Isaiah Lewis...
Isaiah will be back next week. It was just precautionary. He got hurt in practice and Coach Dantonio can talk more about that, but he'll be back and ready to roll next week.

On his emotions regarding the end of the future matchups between Michigan State and Youngstown State...
It was an emotional game. Coach Danotnio always talks about football being a personal game and this especially was a personal game for me. But I guess it doesn't matter because I'm not playing. It has to be personal to the kids. But it was a personal game for me no question about it.

On how different it was coaching the defense today knowing how well the offense was doing...
It was fun; I'll put it that way. We had a good time up in the box. We were high fiving and I think (co-offensive coordinator Jim) Bollman's shoulder is a little sore so we'll have to have (head athletic trainer) Sally (Nogle) get some ice on his shoulder because I was smacking the hell out of him. It's fun to play defense when you're scoring points. It makes the opposition one dimensional because they need to throw to score and get back in control.

On sophomore RJ Williamson making the start at strong safety...
RJ might as well be a starter. That's why we told Isaiah (Lewis) to take it easy. RJ is a great player and we have a lot of confidence in him and you can pretty much say he's a co-starter back there. It was great to see him come in and play well. He's played a lot of football for us in the past on third downs and it was good to see him get the start and do well.

On whether it is easier coaching the defense knowing it is not absolutely critical that the defense scores points...
Our job is to stop people. We didn't really overemphasize it the first few weeks. But it was great to see our offense roll like they did, so I'm fired up for them.

Michigan State sophomore wide receiver Macgarrett Kings Jr.

On how he thinks the game went...
Real good offensively. We just wanted to prove and show everybody what we can do. We're not a one dimensional offense. We can't just run the ball, we can pass the ball, we've got guys who can catch.

On if practice was different this past week...
We put pressure on ourselves as a receiver corps. No coaches put pressure on us. They kept pushing us and giving us confidence. Us as a whole put it on ourselves. We just told each other, we've got to go out here and make plays. Since everyone thinks we can't make plays, let's put pressure on ourselves and go out there and do it.

On Connor Cook...
He's an awesome quarterback. All of our quarterbacks are good. Damion Terry, Connor Cook, Andrew (Maxwell), all of them. They come in and get the job done. Whoever is in we're just going to make plays and catch the ball.

On the biggest focus this week...
Everything. Attention to detail, route running, getting your correct depth, and focusing on the ball coming all the way into your hands. Looking it in, then focus on getting up the field. As long as you catch the ball first, everything will fall into place.

On film room...
Film was good. We went over the little things like blocking, route running, depth. Coach Samuel, he's a great coach. He never puts anyone down, he just keeps pushing us to be the best that we can be. He's an awesome coach.

On how much the team was lifted because of the offense...
The defense has been on the field so much, so they had a chance to come out and get a break. We drove the ball and when the defense came back on the field they were 100 percent again. I think they were pleased with what we did today.

Michigan State fifth-year senior wide receiver Bennie Fowler

"It was very important for the offense to get off to a good start today, heading into next week's game at Notre Dame. The offense got into a rhythm early, scoring on its first three possessions.

"It was important for the wide outs to make plays, and it's something we stressed all week. We needed to be there for the quarterback to make those 50/50 catches. We also needed to pick up additional yards after the catch, and guys like Macgarrett Kings Jr. and Aaron Burbridge made big plays today. Late in the second quarter, I had an opportunity to make a play in space after the quick throw from Connor Cook. I made a couple guys miss and was fortunate to get the ball into the end zone.

"Connor Cook got into a rhythm early and led the team on three-straight touchdown drives to open the game. He got off to a good start and played with a lot of confidence."

Michigan State sophomore safety RJ Williamson

On the decision of number one quarterback...
It's good for the team to know who our number one guy is. At the same time whoever is in there they've got to take control of the huddle and be the leader of the team because we look to the quarterback as the leader of our team all the time.

On if he was worried when the quarterbacks switched...
I'm never worried. Whoever is out there, I always feel like they can compete, because I practice against them every day. I know how they are, I know how competitive they are and the skill sets that they have. I'm never nervous. Whoever is out there, I'm comfortable with them being out there.

On when he found out he was getting the start...
I found out on Thursday. I knew on Thursday I would be starting.

On how he thinks he played...
I felt I played pretty good. I felt I contributed as much as I could. I did the little things that were necessary as far as being in my position. I was just doing what I was told. I just helped out to get this team this win.

On challenges Youngstown State put out as an offense...
I really can't say we saw anything different. Everything we went over in practice, our game plan, we went out there and just executed that. Everything we saw from our scout team during practice, they came out and did. It was nothing really new that we saw. Like I said we just went out and executed and got this w.

On who the scout team quarterback was...
It was a bunch of people. There are different people every time. No matter who is in like I said, just go out there and play no matter who is out there. All of those guys go in and take turns getting us prepared for next game.

On where he is taking more reps as a safety, strong or free...
I'm with the strong safeties. A boundary position. I was behind Isaiah Lewis. It's natural for me anyway, this is my natural position. If it came down to me playing free, that's nothing, I was there last year.

Michigan State Sophomore Defensive End Shilique Calhoun

Thoughts on not scoring today...
I am disappointed, but it wasn't the scoring factor. It was I missed out on a sack and I look to get three sacks a game. It was disappointing I couldn't come up with the three but my team worked hard and we got the win so I am pretty happy about that.

On the sideline...
It motivates you. It motivates you to come out and play hard, to see the offense come out and score 55 points. It just motivates you to go out and we have to stop them. Keep the train rolling, keep the bus rolling. Let's keep up with the progress and keep playing hard.

On the happiness in the locker room...
It was great man, the smiles on the offensive guy's faces - everyone's face. We were all smiling and happy that we are moving forward. We talked about during the week `keep moving forward, pound green pound' was one of our big slogans. Today proved that we can keep pounding. We can be successful on offense and as it showed in earlier games we were successful on defense. So we were ready to prove that today also.

Thoughts on heading to Notre Dame...
We have a big matchup against Notre Dame. They have always been very competitive. It has always been a big game for us. We look to win but it is going to be a dogfight, I believe that is going to be a dogfight.

Michigan State Sophomore Quarterback Connor Cook

On the difference knowing he would be starting...
We knew we would be rotating in the last two games. But when I sat down with coach Dantonio he said you're the guy and we believe in you, we have all the confidence in the world with you. I talked with some other people and they said the same stuff. It is just reassuring. I think I found my rhythm pretty early tonight, just like the last couple games, it's hard to find a rhythm when you are working with two other QB's or another QB.

Evaluating his performance today...
I thought I did a lot better than the first two weeks. It's hard to get into a rhythm when you are using two other quarterbacks in week one and week two same thing. But I felt I got into a rhythm early and it wasn't just me. Guys were making plays, I was getting it to Macgarrett (Kings) he was making plays and I got it to Bennie (Fowler) too. I was throwing a simple hitch route and it turned into a touchdown. Trevon (Pendleton) was making plays. I don't know how many guys I hit but I felt like I was getting a lot of guys involved. When you have that many guys involved in the offense it's going to be dangerous.

Thoughts on differences between this week and the past two...
I feel it was establishing a rhythm. I mean you ran for a little bit, then you're off and waiting, then you're back in. This was the first time where I was in and I was the main guy. When you know your coaches believe in you, you know your players, teammates believe in you, and you believe in yourself it just makes you a lot more confident and not afraid to make mistakes.

On the weather conditions today...
That was a lot better, too. I know the first one the game just goes by so slow and with the delay it goes by even slower. From my first start against USF I was anticipating going into the locker room and going back out and then all of a sudden it's raining. Those were both kind of hard to find a rhythm along with the delays because it is about an hour. Today was nice just going through work ups and going in the locker room and right into it. It was a lot easier to get into a rhythm.

Thoughts on Notre Dame on the horizon...
We know that they are a much better opponent than we played today. We have to go in with the mindset that we are going to make plays like we did today. I think we were trying to find certain guys to make certain plays and see who was going to step up. I think multiple guys stepped up today. That's really encouraging especially heading into South Bend. If we had another game like we had the week before it'd be pretty scary, but the day we had today with the wide outs making plays, the offensive line protecting like they did today - it's reassuring heading into Notre Dame.

On the importance of getting in a rhythm
It's really important; if you don't have a rhythm you are not going to be a successful quarterback. So finally today it was my first time actually having a sense of rhythm and it spoke for itself.

Michigan State Redshirt Freshman Tight End Josiah Price

On evaluating his performance today...
I feel like I made an improvement from the previous two weeks. But I still have a long way to go. I was able to catch the ball a few times which was fun.

Thoughts on having stability at quarterback...
I think it helps out on the chemistry, taking all of the reps all week with the ones, and in the game being the guy to go to. Like I have said before I think all of our quarterbacks are great quarterbacks.

Thoughts on the receivers improving every week...
It was exciting today to watch all of our receivers making plays; catch everything that was thrown their way. Everybody was able to make plays today and the offense was moving the ball well.

Redshirt Freshman Quarterback Tyler O'Connor

On his performance today...
I feel good. There's no substitute for that game experience and obviously I had a lot of it today because the first team offense performed so well in the first half. It's great to get out there and really get into the rhythm basically for a full half. We moved the ball and did some good things so I feel pretty good about today.

On the quarterback competition...
We don't see it as a competition. We're all together and we're all pulling for each other. The biggest thing for us is that we have Notre Dame next and whoever gets the call, we're all pulling for him. We're all going to get excited for whoever makes that throw and whatever the coaches decide to do, we're going to be pulling for that guy.

On his performance today compared to last week's...
I would say the first play of the last game compared to this game was like night and day. I walked out there with more confidence than I had in that first play. It was awesome - I felt more in charge and more in command. I was leading the huddle and talking about the plays with the players, not just relaying it from the coaches. I felt so much better and obviously it was a different situation this week - we were ahead by quite a bit and we went out there and had fun. As the number two offense, or whoever all was in, we went out there, had fun, and moved the ball and that's what this game is all about.

On how he practices...
Just like I always have. Whatever the coaches want to do, I'll be ready. I said that in fall camp, you have got to prepare every week like you're going to be the starter because you never know what will happen. I'll do the same thing I did this week, no different.

Senior defensive lineman Tyler Hoover

On quarterback Connor Cook...
I think he brings a lot of confidence out in the guys and when someone says `you play with swag'- with just that extra `oomph' - I think Connor is bringing that to the guys.

On the atmosphere in the locker room after today's win...
We knew we could get better and we knew that both sides could produce better. So, after this game we are happy and we should be. On facing Notre Dame next weekend...
It's a huge game. It's one of those games that you talk about the whole year. When you start in the winter conditioning, you say this one is for Notre Dame. So it's in our heads and we know how big it is and that's why we are going to come out to play.


I think he was there last season athletically and then he just put all the puzzle pieces together. He figured out how to finish each play. I think he got there a lot last year but you didn't see the production. Now he's just getting to the right position and he's finishing.

On the relief of the offense making plays this game...
I don't think it was relief. You heard all of us - we were going to do everything we could do to win and that was the bottom line. So this game was obviously nicer, we're staying fresh and our bodies are feeling better. So each play when we go out there, we can play a little faster.

Sophomore offensive lineman Jack Allen

On today's game performance...
I think it was a good step we took but we can't be happy with this. We need to take another step this week and have a good few days of practice and then be ready to go.

On Quarterback Connor Cook and the offense...
I think he handled himself well and with control. He controlled the offense today and he did a good job. He was poised and that's the calmest I've seen him so it felt good. He had his shots and he took them, he stepped up to the challenge today. I'm glad we took this step because we obviously didn't have the games we wanted to with these last two. I think this is a good stepping stone and we need to keep going.

Youngstown State senior quarterback Kurt Hess

On the first drive...
Coming into a place like this and starting there is kind of like instant adversity. You know, we talked about it as a team coming in earlier in the week; we were going to face some challenges. They're a great defense; they're a great football team, very well-coached. They're going to make some plays, and we kind of got that right away over there. We tried to take a shot and it didn't really work out for us, but, you know, it set the tone for the game, but we've got to overcome that.

On the offense's fumble late in the first half...
I think it was [a momentum swing]; I think any turnover is, especially against a team like this. The defense, they've created turnovers all season and they've done a great job of capitalizing and they definitely did today. But that's what good football teams do so give all the credit to them. We put the ball on the ground, we're going to have to look into ourselves, and we can't make those mistakes because the margin of error is so much smaller when playing a team like Michigan State, so we're going to have to get better there.

On how much of it was beating yourselves and how much was MSU beating you...
I always think it's probably a little bit of both. We definitely made some mistakes that we didn't need to make at certain times, but if we make mistakes and Michigan State doesn't capitalize on them offensively, then it's not as huge. But they did a great job today, really capitalizing on our mistakes, and we can't let that happen, especially against a big team like this. If you want to come in here and win a game and steal a game from these guys you've got to be on your stuff.

Youngstown State freshman running back Martin Ruiz

On the pressure leading into the game...
Well, the pressure was on them because they were a big team and we were playing them here at their house. They're a bigger team than us, so we just have to try and reach their level and correct our mistakes. We've got to focus on the next game, take it one game at a time, and focus on our conference.

On his comfort level with the offense...
I felt more comfortable when they kept giving me all those carries, with so much playing time as I got. I felt comfortable communicating with the offense, the O-Line. When [Head] Coach [Eric] Wolford was recruiting me, he told me I was going to be playing [right away], so I just had to show him that I can play, and I had to step up when our starting running back Adaris Bellamy got hurt.