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Post-Game Quotes: Notre Dame

Sept. 24, 2017

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Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio

Opening statement...

Basically, you look at the football game and you talk about turnovers. You talk about it, you talk about it, you talk about it. They happen. Bad things come about it or good things depending on which side of the fence you're on. Obviously, with those turnovers, being minus three in the first half created a big 14-point swing, number one. When we didn't get the touchdown going in to make 21-14, and then they drove down the field, was a big turning point going into 28-7.

When you look at it statistically, statistics can lie to you. You still have the minus three turnovers and too many penalties. We didn't control the quarterback from the scramble situation, and we didn't contain the quarterback well enough. There were too many boost plays that he created. I have to give him credit. There was too much yardage per rush. I thought Wimbush ran the ball pretty effectively, even though he didn't have a lot of yards - 50 yards, 57 yards. I thought he ran the ball too effectively. We've got to get them off the field on third-down.

Offensively, we need ball security. We've got to run the ball more efficiently. Again, we had critical penalties. Some things are in question, I'm sure, but you got to play with the hand that's dealt to you. The thing we have to do is get ready for Iowa. This was an out of conference game, so our focus is on the Big Ten Conference. It would have been anyway. We're going to live and learn a little bit with the young players sometimes. We're going to make some mistakes, but we're got to be able to overcome those mistakes. The first pick-six was tough. Things happen out on the football field.

On whether penalties were lack of discipline...

Oh yeah, it's frustrating. It's third-and-one, we stopped them for a loss and we lined up offsides. You can't line up offsides. You realize that when you first start playing football. You cannot line up offsides. That's frustrating. A couple maybe were in question, because they're judgment calls. Judgments were made. A couple others, not so much. I think it was (97) yards for penalties. We've had maybe six or seven penalties in two games. We've got to play more effectively in that area, so that hurts, but ultimately the turnovers are what crushes you, being minus three in the first half.

On whether he thought of pulling Brian Lewerke...

No, I wanted him to play. We want to keep competing, and I think every snap he takes, he learns. I'm not going to say `Let's just put in our guys and let's stop trying to play.' I just don't believe in doing that. You've got to try and play. We're going to keep competing.

On the statistics favoring Michigan State...

Well, you might say we won but I don't think we ran the ball as effectively as we need to. You get 350 yards and you throw the ball 50 times, usually that's not a good thing for you. Again, you weight out the turnovers, that's a score for a touchdown, that's a fumble with a touchdown coming after that taking seven off and driving down the field. They had one big pass play their first drive, but other than that I don't think they had too many big plays. There was one on third-down, and we've got to get off the field on third-down. The quarterback created. In all situations, we have to defend. Our guys played hard, but yeah, statistics can lie to you.

On conversations with Brian Lewerke and LJ Scott about ball security...

The conversations are always about ball security and about making good decisions, especially with your quarterback. He's trying to make a play and the ball comes out. He's got to be more careful with the football. Nobody feels worse than him. As far as LJ, nobody feels worse than LJ Scott. He's got opportunities there that stick with him at 21-14. I'm not going to go over and yell at a guy when he's trying to make a play. These guys are trying to make plays, so I'm part of that, and I'm not going to be finger-pointing and saying `You do this. You did that.' We talk ball security and we work ball security every single day, seven minutes a day in drills. Credit their guy coming out, I think it was maybe 27 coming in to strip the ball. It was a very close call. It could've gone the other way. I don't know if they could make the rule from up top. I think they had to make the call from the field. It could've gone the other way, but it didn't. I don't know how to handle those things except try to stay composed as best I can and wait for the next play.

On LJ Scott's play today...

He didn't start last game. I thought he played pretty well last game, so we started him this game. The rushes sort of bounced out. He had a majority of them early on. They sort of bounced out. We'll look at that and try to make decisions. All three of those guys are good backs. All three of those guys are going to do certain things. Again, when you look back at the history of our backs and what they have done here, there's some value in looking at the history. We'll look at that again and see how they play next game, and make some evaluations.

On whether the offense did what they needed to do in terms of possession...

It was a seven play drive. It was quick plays. They made the one big one, and then it was sort of rapid fire so I think that was the point drive that sort of caught up with us a little bit. It was hot out there, but I didn’t sense that we were tired. I felt like we started playing without the emotion maybe that we had. Every time we had a pivotal play, where maybe we could back into this thing, something would happen whether it was penalty on third-and-one that gives them first down or a fumble in the one situation. We got a chance to get up the field and at least maybe kick a field goal. Things happen for a reason, but in terms of the question asked, the offense needs to control the football. I don’t think there’s any question we need to run the ball more effectively. They probably won the game up front, when you look at it. I don’t think we’ve won a game up front. It’s a team game. Coaches are involved in this, too.

On fixing the team...

It’s not broken. We’re not broken. We’ve played two good football games. There were times in this football game where it looks like we make a play, and then something happens. You’ve got to execute and you’ve got to execute consistently. We’re not broken. I think we’re a football team that can win a lot of football games. We’ve got guys who can make plays. I was impressed with Trishton Jackson tonight. He made some catches, which he needed to do to step up. You saw a couple younger players make some catches as well, so that was a positive thing. We’ve got to evaluate the film. I’m just going off of what I saw on the field. There’s plenty of things we’re going to see and say, ‘Well if this would’ve happened...’ or ‘Should that have happened?’ The bottom line is, minus three and two of them impact the score by 14 points. That’s very difficult to overcome in any football game.

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly

Opening remarks...

Good win for our kids, anytime you go on the road. We win back-to-back weeks against Power Five teams, it's hard to win on the road anyway, and to come in here against a team that's nationally ranked defensively and take the football away like we did and be opportunistic, really pleased with the results.

You know, really starting to establish who we really are in that we got much more balance today. [QB] Brandon [Wimbush] threw the ball well today, 14-for-20, so we can probably move on about he can't throw it. He's just got the ability to do a lot at that position, he's just growing, he hasn't arrived, but he did some really good things at the position tonight that helped us become efficient on offense. But again, I think the story here is defensively we're taking the football away, we hadn't been able to take the football away the last few years. We're taking it away, and then we're opportunistic. Rushing yards don't really matter much, passing yards don't matter much, when you can take the football away and capitalize on it in the red-zone, those are the real numbers when you get down to it, because they equal points and point differentials, and they equal winning football games.

On Brandon Wimbush's preparation for to this week...

I just knew being with him over the last two years that he would be in the kind of rhythm necessary. Made a couple of tweaks to his motion, he was getting underneath the ball a little bit, seated a little bit better. But more importantly I think we were in a game last week that presented ourselves a little bit differently than most games, with so much man-coverage, and this was a more traditional game for our offense in the sense that there would be more balance. So, some slight tweaks, but I had seen him throw the ball with great effectiveness and knew it was just going to come.

On Brandon Wimbush's performance from last week compared to this week...

I think the balance for us, offensively, will still be about managing third down situations, if we feel like we can keep ourselves out of long third down situations then you limit your need to be throwing a lot of passes. We're going to take our shots down field, we had big throw to [WR Equanimeous St. Brown] earlier in the game, [WR Chase] Claypool makes a great catch on the sidelines, so we'll still be able to push the ball down the field, but it should be more about through our play action and quick game.

On shift in momentum following MSU fumble at goal line with score following it up...

Well I think that's the narrative, in terms of who we're becoming. You know, each team takes on a different kind of look each year, and this team, and the way it's coached, and the way [defensive coordinator] Mike Elko was brought here because we knew that that's the kind of defense that he has coached in his tenure as defensive coordinator. He coaches it every day, he talks about it, but more importantly it's taught every single day, so those aren't coincidences. And if we could be a very efficient offense in terms of running the football and be efficient in the red-zone, those equal differential points that puts you in the win column and that's all were looking to do here is win games.

On running back game plan...

I don't think there was a set plan. [RB] Josh [Adams] is our bell cow, if you will, and we're going to continue to utilize his physicality at the position. We think [RB] Dexter [Williams] is a great complementary back in terms of what he can do, and you saw what [RB] Deon [McIntosh] was capable [of], he runs hard, he's a tough kid with a burst. [RB] Tony [Jones Jr.] wasn't able to go but we'll get him back most likely next week, and we think we're very fortunate that we've got some depth at that position.

Michigan State Co-Offensive Coordinator Dave Warner
 
On Brian Lewerke's decision-making...

I think it's an ongoing process. It's not something that we're going to address now, that's something we've talked about all the time. That's part of a quarterback's job, is decision-making. The biggest part of his job is decision-making and he just needs to focus in, first on the interception, focus in on the receiver. Saw it coming and I couldn't do anything about it. That's a continuing process, we need to make progress in that area.
 
On addressing ball security...

I think we've got to change our approach, maybe, because what we're doing is not working. We're doing what we've been doing for years and years around here, been very good about protecting the football, but it's not taking place right now. We'll just evaluate it, look at it and see if there's new ways to go about emphasizing it. We could not have emphasized it more these last two weeks, but obviously we didn't get it done.
 
On being pleased with the offense besides the turnovers...

It's irrelevant, it really is. The turnovers stick out like a big sore thumb and because of that we ended up throwing the ball, what 50, 53 times, something like that and if we're throwing the ball that many times we're not going to be successful offensively. Or as a football team we're not going to be successful.
 
On if there were any thoughts putting in another quarterback in the fourth quarter...

Not really. I mean Coach Dantonio was one to press ahead. He used some timeouts to try and score points. Just a never give up mentality, those slim pickings right there, but we just kept trying to.
 
Associate Head Coach and Co-Defensive Coordinator Harlon Barnett
 
On the cause of the amount of penalties...

Obviously we don't want to get those types of penalties, that's way too many. I think coach just mentioned that's more than what we had in the first two games combined, if I'm not mistaken. Obviously we need to get that cleaned up. We stress penalties all the time, we talked about it a lot in the last two weeks, but we'll get those cleaned up.
 
On if Notre Dame showed anything unexpected offensively...

No, I wouldn't say that. They actually stuck to their plan, they just executed better than us to be honest with you, but we'll get that fixed. They pretty much stuck to what they were and what they did. They had a few wrinkled things in there but nothing that we hadn't seen before. Nothing so special that we were like `wow we can't handle that.'
 
On if Brandon Wimbush's ability to throw mid-range passes surprised him...
 
It did a little bit. Because like you said, you hadn't seen that out of him. This is his first year, he's a first-year starter so the body of work you have to base it on is what he's done so far. Yes, he did a good job for them tonight. We actually expected him to run a little bit more than he actually did, he got a run late in the game but we anticipated more of him not seeing his first read and taking off running. He made some plays for them tonight, he had a good game.

Michigan State Senior Linebacker Chris Frey

On the lack of execution…

Things were really frustrating. You know we prepared ourselves. We knew what they were doing a lot of the time and we just failed to make plays. We turned the ball over way too much and then on top of that they made good plays and they were able to drive the field on our defense. Something that hasn’t really happened this year. We need to get back to focusing on what we did wrong and see how we can improve.

On how to adjust as a defense…

It’s tough and it’s something we practice a lot in practice. We call them sudden changes when the offense turns the ball over or something happens and we got to right back out on the field. It takes them out of the game, it’s tough but we’re put in situations at practice so we should be able to be put in the situation in the game and come out without them scoring a touchdown. We’ve done that and we’ve done that multiple times this year and we just failed to do it tonight.

On the young players…

No, our young players have enough playing time and reps under their belts to not be considered or get the ‘oh he’s young, he can make mistakes or do this.’ We’re past that point and those guys know that. We hold them as a team and as a coaching staff to a higher standard. If you are starting on our defense, you are expected to make plays. You know I expect you to mess up and even for me. I’m expected to make plays and if I mess up I get pulled out of the game, it’s that simple. We’re not going to let one loss change our mindset and who plays and who doesn’t. We’re just going to continue to get better and go into this week with a mindset that we are going to come out victorious next week.

Michigan State Quarterback Brian Lewerke

On his expectations on the team…

I think the mistakes that were made, the interception that wasn’t really me trying to make a play, it was just a bad decision to make on my part. I think you have to take your risk, but also cut and just try to be safer and limit turnovers.

On what he has learned this past years…

I think as every game goes by you learn more and more stuff about the game of college football and how it works and how the speed works. That’s just something that this team has to do. Obviously we are a lot younger team, but I think as the games go on we will eventually get to that point.

On LJ Scott’s play this season…

I told him don’t worry about it . Obviously he’s a guy that’s led us the past three years, for the past two years I guess. He’s been really big for us that playoff year and even last year. I have all the confidence in the world for him.

Senior offensive lineman Brian Allen

On committing undisciplined penalties…

You don’t like to see them, but it comes with playing physical. We just have to clean them up a little bit. We have to be a little more mature about it moving forward. It’s good to have guys trying to finish. We just have to learn from them.

On the turnovers…

They’re the story of the season. We could get away with it with Bowling Green, but when you play a good team like Notre Dame they will make you pay for it. It’s a whole different game when you get rid of those. We’ll learn from this and move forward.

On what lessons you will take away from the game …

With a loss you’ll have to learn from it, and clean it up. We have to beat the turnovers, and fix that up. The score didn’t indicate the game, but Notre Dame is a good team.

Junior safety Matt Morrissey


On what you take away after a game like today…

We have a lot of lessons to learn. It was a non-conference game, and we have goal ahead of us. We didn’t execute to the best of our ability, but we will fix it and come back ready to play next week. The biggest thing is we have to tackle better and play more disciplined.

On the message in the locker room after the game…

Tough game, and we have the Big Ten coming up. We have to get ready for nine big games that we’re going to get ready for. We’re excited to get into conference play.

Are the mistakes caused by the young guys on the field…

We have to execute better. We had a lot of penalties, and we will fix it by watching film, and reviewing our mistakes.

On how the loss affects the beginning of Big Ten play…

We have to go week by week and move on to the next one. It’s never good to lose at home, but we have goals ahead of us in order to ready for a Big Ten season next week. You never go out there to lose, but they have a great program. It’s a good rivalry even though we came up short tonight, we are going to learn from our mistakes and do better next week. You can’t dwell on a tough loss. We have to learn from our mistakes and move on to the next week.

Junior linebacker Andrew Dowell 

On the turnovers and the late hit after the turnover...

Yeah, it's obviously frustration there, but that's not something we have to concern ourselves with. With the defense, we just have to be resilient. We've got to respond in sudden change moments, we should've done a better job of that today.

On the growth from tonight's game...

We had a lot of young guys play today, everybody's got to build upon this. We have to get back in the film room so we can get back after it next week.

On if Wimbush's play surprised the defense...

No, we just have to be on our p's and q's better, we've got to play the ball.

On what they told the young players before the game...

Don't shy away from the moment. The fans came out and supported and we loved to see the fans out there packed and they striped the stadium. We just have to play better ball as both a defense and an offense.

On the conversation in the locker-room after the game...

Just knowing we've got to get better. That's a team we can play with, the score shouldn't have been that bad. The defense has got to do a better job, we can't look at the fact that the offense turned the ball over a few times.

Notre Dame QB Brandon Wimbush

On what was different for you this week...

I have to look at these yards.I just felt a little bit more comfortable. Not that I didn't feel comfortable last week, I think that the guys did a great job up front, giving me time,and this week the receivers definitely got open.They made plays when their numbers were called. I thought I delivered the ball the way that I know I could, and like I said, they definitely made plays. Even out of the backfield, Dexter Williams with a great catch in the end zone. Shout-out to my surrounding cast; they did a hell of a job making plays, like I said, when their number was called.
 
On why the offense is so good responding to a defensive turnover...

I don't think that we think about it. I think that we think about each drive as a separate drive. The defense, like you said, they've been doing a great job of taking the ball away and giving us field position. We've been able to capitalize, not just with field goals but with six, seven points. That's been great for us. I don't know the stat regarding that asset of the game. I think we've done a great job of capitalizing when the opportunity presents itself.


 

 

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