MSU Spartans
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Michigan State 17, Pitt 13
 
 
 

 

 
 

Sept. 15, 2007

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Michigan State Head Coach Mark Dantoinio

On the game...
First of all, I thought it was a great win for our football team. I think when you win games like this, you start to build a sense of confidence that you can do it in close games. One thing, when you come out of a game like this, where we made penalties, some were unforced penalties, others we'll have to take a look at. I thought our guys came to play defensively, they were 0-12 on third down, got five sacks, and went 3-0 in turnovers. It's tough to win the game when you go 3-0 in turnovers. So we won the turnover battle 3-0.

On Travis Key...
Travis Key filled in and had a huge play of the game. Probably THE play of the game, with the pick for the touchdown.

On fighting through adversity...
We persevered through it, and that's what we have to do. And there was no letdown in the locker room at halftime, we were actually up, but the sense that we had a dogfight on our hands was there. And in the fourth quarter I thought we played pretty well, especially defensively, and kept them out of the end zone.

On Greg Jones...
Greg came in there and made a big stop on third down and short, I believe, and they had to kick a field goal. But Greg's a football player - you know he is a true freshman - so he may make some mistakes but he's going to come and play. He's got great power and explosiveness and he'll run to the football and make plays.

Overall...
The key to the game obviously was the turnovers and our play on third downs, was pretty good, actually great. But offensively, up and down and around a little bit, but we got the job done, we got a win. We're 3-0, we go to Notre Dame next week. And that's the bottom line.

Michigan State Offensive Coordinator Don Treadwell

Opening Statement...
Offensively, certainly it was pretty noticeable to everyone that we certainly have to play better in terms of the penalties that shot us in the foot. Quite often we had some drives established, doing some things that we wanted to do, but then we would take a step back with the penalties and those things. The good news is that those things are correctable, and as always, it's much more of a focus to correct them after a win. My hat is certainly off to the (Pittsburgh) defense, they certainly played an outstanding game, so certainly the praise is directed in their angle. We maybe weren't in-sync a little bit, but again it's hard for me to give a complete evaluation until I've watched the tape. We had some things available at times, so maybe at times in the passing, Brian (Hoyer) might have been a little off this week, et cetera, but those guys that run the football still come through to play. I think we lost one of our guards early in the game, but the backups came in and tried to fill the void as we were in there. I think as we watch the tape, I'm sure we'll find that there are some things that we would have certainly liked to do better, and you could just sense the resolve in the locker room with the offensive guys in particular. We certainly are satisfied with the performance, but we're very glad that we played as a team, and came through it regardless.

On the Pittsburgh defense...
They're a program like us; they've got a storied history of tradition, and coach (Dave) Wannstedt brought that to the table, and I think those kids came out ready to play. Just like anything else, though, we had some drives going in which we had the momentum, and had we cashed in on them - whether it was a field goal or a touchdown - it probably would have changed the complexion of the game a little bit.

On junior quarterback Brian Hoyer's play...
We may have missed a couple that we should have had, but on the other end, we may have dropped a few that we should have had. So it's kind of across the board, we had a sack or two obviously, so when you kind of go down the line like that, we all say, "OK, I need to improve upon that." We start like this as coaches, what we have to improve upon, and we'll rectify it and come out ready to play next week.

Michigan State Defensive Coordinator Pat Narduzzi

Opening Statement...
A win's a win. It was kind of an ugly win. Defensively, we didn't stop the run like we would have liked to, and we have to get that fixed. We gave up a big reverse early in the game for 64 yards, and we just didn't play it right. Maybe it was a coaching error; we kind of said to watch the reverse, because (Pittsburgh wide receiver Maurice Williams) came into the game, and he's a reverse guy and hadn't been in all game, and I think one of our ends played the reverse, and didn't come down to play the run like he should. But it's a win. As I look at it, on third down, we made some plays today, and we had some turnovers. I think we got four turnovers. We always talk defensively about creating. We want to create things, and our kids went into the challenge every time we asked them to. Before our first turnover, we got our guys huddled on the sidelines and said, "Tell them we're going to get an interception this period," and we got one. Our kids constantly responded when we asked them to respond. We told them that we had to win it on defense; if they don't score, we win. I think they came out and played a darn-good second half again.

On Pittsburgh's direct-snap plays...
I don't think that was anything that they just ran here, and just put it in (the playbook) this week. I believe, probably now that we've seen it, that they ran it well enough and had enough different things off of it, that they probably worked at it all during camp and during the first two weeks. They didn't need to spring it on Grambling or anybody else, so we had not ever - and we played them for two years at Cincinnati - seen that. It's good stuff, and it's stuff that Florida used against Ohio State in the National Championship game, and we had talked about it but really didn't think we'd see it. We made some adjustments to it to stop it, and obviously got a turnover in the end when they ran it.

Pittsburgh Head Coach Dave Wannstedt

Thoughts on the game...
I told our players (the loss) wasn't because of effort. I don't know what more you can ask of a defense. They kept us in it the entire game. When you come up here and play on the road it is tough enough, without turning the ball over. Especially when you play a good football team, and Michigan State is a good football team. With LeSean McCoy playing quarterback half the game, it is hard to play catch up. The plan was to keep it close into the fourth quarter and then make a play, but then we turned the ball over. That cost us the game.

On the Panthers' special teams...
Some parts were good, some parts not good. Our kickoff returns, we have to do better than that. On the other hand, we blocked a field goal that gave us a chance to win the game. I thought that was going to be the play to switch the momentum of the game.

About putting LeSean McCoy at quarterback in the second half...
We worked on it all during training camp and in the offseason. Everybody knew it was something we would use sooner or later. It is something that we do for a change of pace.

On the Panthers' offensive line...
We have to bring that group along a little bit. They are getting better. Our offensive line has improved week by week, but not to the point that we are happy or excited about it. But they are getting better.

Michigan State senior tight end Kellen Davis

On struggling to a victory...
Today was a rough day but we played with a lot of heart and effort. We didn't execute as well as we usually do and I think that goes back to us having a bit of an off-week in practice. I think we've got to pay more attention to detail and execute better.

On problems with the passing game...
I think that falls a little bit on everybody. When we don't bring it and everybody's not on cue then miscues happen. It's all about timing and it's all about preparation and execution. I think we were just a slight bit off today and we need to work on that in practice.

On getting a win in a close game...
I attribute this win totally and entirely to effort. We made some plays down the stretch when we needed to and I thought the defense played great today. It came down to who wanted it more and I think we did.

Michigan State senior linebacker Kaleb Thornhill

On Pitt's direct-snap offense in the second half...
We weren't expecting that and we tried to make some adjustments to it. We had some problems with it obviously and we'll see what we did wrong on film.

On Pitt running back LeSean McCoy...
He's going to be a great back. He had an incredible game today and he's real great out in the open field. I thought we hit him pretty hard at times but he was real shifty. It was good for us to see a back that good to get us ready for the Big Ten season.

On Michigan State's pass rush...
Obviously we're bringing more pressure and it's good pressure. The defensive line has a knack for getting there right now and it's real good to see. There's still some improvements to make, but it's good to get out of here with a win. They all count as one.

Michigan State Senior Nose Tackle Ogemdi Nwagbuo

On the strong defensive play this season...
We're a new team. We're getting after the quarterback, getting pressure on the quarterback. We're just trying to penetrate, get up field, play aggressive and play fast.

On his fumble recovery...
(Jonal) Saint-Dic popped it loose, I just saw it and grabbed it, it was just one of the big plays we had. Guys were scratching, pulling arms, I was just holding onto it with two hands while guys were trying to rip it away from me.

Michigan State Junior Cornerback Ashton Henderson

On the defense forcing turnovers...
Our coaches are always talking about turnovers and getting the ball back and that's our main goal on defense. Everybody's trying to get to the ball and make plays.

On stopping Pittsburgh's offense...
They were trying to mix it up, but we did a good job and made some big stops. We definitely had our hands full today.

. Michigan State Freshman Linebacker Greg Jones

On the keys to the game...
Turnovers were very key. The defensive line causing fumbles, it's all we've worked on all week long. But the offense has to score too, they did their job and we did our job.

On his biggest improvements from week one...
Probably confidence, feeling confident and going into the game with the right mindset. Just not being scared and being very together and feeling very comfortable.

On playing Notre Dame next week...
We have to eliminate mistakes. Notre Dame is a passing team and uses a lot of good quarterbacks and we have to be able to shut down the running game and passing game as well.

Michigan State Junior Quarterback Brian Hoyer

On not throwing any interceptions this week ...
That's something we emphasized in practice, especially after I threw two interceptions against Bowling Green last week. In the back of my head, I was saying `Don't turn the ball over, and you'll give us a chance.'

On the performance of the offense and the defense ...
The defense came to play today. They stepped up and played great. On offense, we pounded the ball well, but we hurt ourselves with penalties and a missed assignment here or there. For the most part, I thought we pounded the ball when we needed to and took some time off the clock. It's unfortunate that we couldn't get more points on the board, but we came to play. A win's a win. Whether we beat them 55-7 or 17-13, it's a W in the books.

On his completion percentage being lower than usual ...
Sometimes you have to give up a throw to avoid an interception. Whether it's close coverage or you're throwing the ball away, if you give yourself an opportunity to run that next play, bad things aren't going to happen.

On taking six sacks ...
Sometimes the smartest thing to do is to take a sack, but some were on me where I held onto the ball too long. This was kind of a wake-up call for us. There were some things we could've done to change the outcome and not hurt ourselves a little more.

On MSU's morale after being called for 11 penalties ...
Some of the calls you have to take as motivation and go out there and play. You can't let it affect you in a negative way. Obviously, it was the most we've been penalized all year and it's been talked about in the papers how we weren't getting penalized. But you can't let it affect you negatively. You have to bounce back.

Michigan State Senior Running Back Jehuu Caulcrick

On splitting carries with Javon Ringer ...
When it comes down to it, we're both ready to come in and pound the ball.

On pulling out a close game ...
This was very important. Last year in games like this we would let down. We might have lost this game last year. But this year, the coaching staff is throwing a lot of adversity at us with summer conditioning, winter work-outs and everything. We just relax and play ball.

On having the defense make key plays in the fourth quarter ...
It's a nice thing. The defense is out here to play ball, too. They did a great job and carried the game for us. There are going to be times when they're going to be down a little, and we'll step up and outscore the opposing team. They did a great job of tightening up.

On going to Notre Dame with a 3-0 record ...
It's great to go there after going 3-0 at home. We defended our home turf. It hurt last year to lose to Notre Dame. It's going to be personal.

Pittsburgh Redshirt Freshman Quarterback Kevan Smith

How he felt about today ...
This game definitely made us stronger as a team. Our coach has talked about adversity and how teams will have to overcome things like this. It came down to the last play of the game even. Everyone was working their tales off out there. I guess we'll just have to look to next week and winning a Big East Championship.

On the cause of the problems today ...
I'm going to give credit to Michigan State defense. They put a lot of pressure on us. But we've just got to get stronger as an offense. We got some looks we'll have to work on. There were some plays I think we did real well on. We were players out there. Turnovers were a problem today, and I'm going to take the fault for the two interceptions. The one got picked off in the end. It should have been a hard throw. But I guess I just didn't recognize. I've got to get the ball off quick. The second one I put a little behind him, and that's something I've got to get better at. But we've just got to look past that and move on to the next play. We can't let that distract us.

On how he felt in that kind of environment.....
It was exciting. It was definitely a college atmosphere that every football player wants to play in. I went out there a little overwhelmed, and yeah it was loud. So it was distracting. But I think we did well, and it helped us to get better for next week.

On how he felt the offense worked.....
It was the first time we showed it. It definitely worked out. I'm sure you'll see it again.

Pittsburgh Freshman Running Back LeSean McCoy

On the Offense....
Oh definitely, we don't want to get away from it. Today, we learned a lot of things. Hopefully we can develop more plays from it. Next week, hopefully it will be bigger and better. It's something that's different and the defense doesn't expect it.

On the receiving the direct snap...
It's more reading the defense. Any play can be called, but it has a lot to do with the different blocking schemes. Today it worked well, we came into the game with a plan and for the most part everything worked according to it. I love doing it. I guarantee the defense didn't think that we would be doing it. We saved it for them and it worked, they were so surprised.

On the adjustment to the college game...
One of the biggest things that I have noticed is the size of the players. It's different you have to know what you're going to do before you do it. I think that's the biggest thing.

On the first three games...
Everything is happening so fast. One day you're taking the SATs, trying to get into school, practicing. Then all of sudden you're in a game against the Big Ten, playing in front of 85,000 people with big time guys running after you. It's all new to me. I still have three years of it.

 

 

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