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Post-Game Quotes: Michigan

Oct. 29, 2016

Recap |  Final Stats |  Notes |  Photo Gallery 1  |  Photo Gallery 2 

Recap | Final Stats |  Photo Gallery 

Michigan State Head Coach Mark Dantonio

Opening statement...

First thing I want to do is congratulate U of M and Coach Harbaugh. Rough game. I thought they executed well. As far as Michigan State is concerned, too many missed opportunities as the game went on. I thought we came out fast. We scored on out first series. We went down the field and ran the football effectively, which is something that we needed to do. Just too many missed opportunities when you get down to it. Fourth and one - we have to get one yeard. I don't care what they draw up or what we draw up. You have to be able to get one yard. Later on in the third quarter, I think we're down three scores at that point. You have to go for the touchdown and try to cut the lead. I guess we could have kicked it, but my sense of it was that we had to go. I'm not going to sell our football team short, but you have to be able to process it and win in that situation. Win the inches. Fourth quarter we had a missed field goal, and again trying to cut it to two scores. We didn't make the kick. And at the end of the first half we throw a pick that let's them get three points. Somewhere in that frame of everything, you have to be able to not have those things happen. But, we ran the ball effectively and got into the red zone effectively. We never stopped playing - never quit. Showed some resilience and toughness. Got to be able to get off the field on third down. They made plays. They're a good football team. I thought we would have to be able to make them punt in the first half, and that did not occur. Some things we did do and some things we didn't. And that's the end result. I'm going to keep scratching. So if there's one second on the clock, were going to go for two. At that point in time, we're probably losing the game. So, we went for two. It's unfortunate that it had to end in a big celebration for them. But, it happened.

On the decision to kick on 4th and 17...

First of all, it's fourth and 17, so the end result - that's a very small percentage, I think. So you kick the football and try to cut it to two scores. So we have to take what we can get, that was my thought process there.

On four straight runs on first and goal from the 2 yard line...

We ran the ball for two-hundred and some yards. LJ (Scott) had 150 yards. It's first and goal from the two. My thinking is that we have to get the inches. Obviously, I was wrong. Ever since 2007 when Jehuu Caulcrick had 22 touchdowns, that's what we do. But that was my decision and I'll take the heat for it.

On subbing Gerald Holmes for LJ Scott on the game's second drive...

Gerald deserves to play. LJ carried the ball quite a few times on that drive so we probably rested him. We were going to play two tailbacks a little bit, and that was an opportunity for Gerald to get the ball.

On the decision to pull Tyler O'Connor...

First of all, three scores down, we needed to make a little bit of a change. But mostly, I wanted the other two quarterbacks who are coming back next year to have a taste of this football game. I thought it was very important for them to gain in game experience against U of M. So that's what we did. I thought Damien (Terry) took a step on the field. We had an opportunity to score there in the red zone. We ended up having to kick a field goal and missed it. Then Lewerke, when Damien got hurt - I thought it was important for Brian Lewerke to experience this football game. He's done some good things - you've seen some of the things he has done out there. Came back with Tyler after Brian got up gingerly, and he took us down the field. So, Tyler did a nice job, but I thought it was important that these other guys get an opportunity here.

On the "ride the hot hand" running back philosophy, and if that has changed over the season...

No, I mean, Gerald (Holmes) carried the ball 6 times. I don't have my glasses on, but I think he carried the ball 6 times. LJ (Scott) carried the ball 22 times. We stayed with what we wanted to do, but I feel like Gerald Holmes has made a lot of big plays around here, and I think he deserves an opportunity. And if he got hot, he would have been going in.

On Donnie Corley playing both sides of the ball...

I think he has the skills to play out there. He was recruited here to be a possible two-way player. If we see people with those types of skills, we're going to do that. So we'll give him the opportunity to play in nickel situations. I think maybe even a couple of other snaps he was in there, other than the nickel situations when we had Darian Hicks at the star. So we actually played with three corners there.

On the feeling in the locker room...

Well I thought we had an edge to us. How's the locker room? It's just like every other locker room after losing a football game. It's tough. Especially for our senior group. That's the first time our senior group has lost that game. I guess, in theory, the answer to your question, would be that we'll be ready to play next week. I don't think we have guys that quit. I think our guys will play. We have enough young players that this is an exciting thing for them. Played a lot of freshman, a lot of young players, and I think they'll earn their way.

I think it's very important that they get a taste of this football game, and that they understand what this game is about. There aren't any moral victories, just like I said before, so we gotta take it, but I think that you can feel good that you competed. You can feel good that things went this direction. You can feel good as a coach that we got an opportunity to win this football game. We really do.

We have to convert on our opportunities. When you play a good football team, you can't miss on opportunities. You have to make good on opportunities. A lot of that is play-calling, a lot of that is my decision making. A lot of that is execution. That's why I always say it's all inclusive. It's all inclusive. But at the end, I'm proud of our guys, I'm proud that we came out to play. I'm very proud of how we came out the second half, you know 27-10. And somehow, I'm not sure really how, because they beat the ball up enough on us, you know they had 30 points until the two-point deal. We played and got back in the football game, but we just gotta convert those opportunities. That third down, that third quarter, cutting that, at that point in time, that's a huge goal line stand for them, when we don't get in.

On the fault from Tyler O'Connor's interception throw...

The quarterback makes decisions on the field. When the quarterback goes out there and makes checks and makes decisions on the field, over the course of time, guys have made good decisions and good plays. Over the course of time, guys have made bad decisions. The quarterback is about the game manager. They're going to get a lot of the praise, or they're going to get a lot of the criticism.

He checked to a play because basically the screen that we had was going to be covered, so he checked to a play to go down field with it. You gotta try and make plays. It got caught up in the wind, or it was a bad throw, whatever the case was. It still didn't mean that they had to go down the field and score before halftime. To me it's like the punt. We had to make a decision, they had two time outs, we had to make a decision. 39 seconds to go, we're down by two scores, my feeling is, we need to give people their money's worth and compete. So he's trying to make a play. He's trying to make a play. Nobody is angry at Tyler in any sense. But on the flip side of things, defensively you gotta make a play, they can't go down there and kick a field goal.

On offense improving...

I thought we ran the ball effectively. I thought in the fourth quarter certainly, we made a couple plays, with LJ especially. So it's fourth quarter, but they all count. So bottom line is how many touchdowns did we get back in it? Five seconds to go we break the seven points. You know, we needed that to happen at the four minute mark, which was the challenge. Get that at the four minute mark. Get within one score at the four minute mark. That didn't happen. So, you know, they sorta hung on a little bit, who knows what defense they're playing and what philosophy they have at that point in time, but I did think at the end of the first half, we ran the ball effectively, even at the end of the third quarter, we ran the ball effectively, and we had ourselves in a situation where we score a touchdown and we're down by 10. But we didn't.

On Damion Terry over Brian Lewerke...

Quarterback decisions were made based on our coaching staff. If I had to go to a week of practice, all those guys make plays. All those guys have that opportunity to be in the football game. I asked who should be the guy earlier in the week, they felt like it was Damion, based on practice. And then when I asked at game time, they felt like it should be Damion. I felt like he needed that opportunity as well.

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh

On the success of the running game...

Yeah it was running pretty hard, all of our backs were going. Both teams were having success with the run early, that got us going and set up quite a few things in the play-action game and the passing game and then our guys made plays. Amara Darboh, heck of a game, maybe one of his best. Talk about guys making plays, Amara Darboh was really making plays today. Wilton [Speight], another tremendous game by him. The throw he made before the half to Amara [Darboh] on the deep end route, you know I thought that was especially good after taking a hit and getting knocked down, pretty hard hit then coming back and throwing that one right on the money.

Defensively, we made plays, guys made plays. For three out of four, fourth down stops were huge in the ball game, Jabrill [Peppers] getting that fourth down stop and also picking up that conversion at the end, scored a touchdown. Guys made plays that's where I feel right now, got the W.

On Amara Darboh's play this season...

His game is at a very high level, some of the highest I've seen of a college receiver. I think he's well established as a great play-maker and also disciplined in every single route that he runs, he blocks, great teammate and he just does it all at the best that he can possibly do. He's got a lot of God given talent and a great work ethic, but I think it was a premier game for him today.

On Kenny Allen in the punt and kicking game...

He was in the kick-off game, he was flawless today and we needed that. Tough ball game today, guys were tested in all phases, our offense was tested, our kicking game was tested and our defense was tested. Our guys came through, Kenny [Allen] came through, was in 100 percent of all his kicks.

On having the Paul Bunyan trophy back...

A lot of joy, it's the great thrill of victory, a wonderful feeling. Jim McKay right, the thrill of victory. A good feeling.

On Michigan State continuing to fight in the second half...

Like I said, we were tested in all phases and we were sure that was going to be the case. Our guys made the plays throughout the ball game really, from start to finish our guys made a few more plays, it was a good tight game. Good for our guys to get tested that way and good for them to come through.

On Wilton Speight's growth...

Wilton [Speight] just gets better and better in terms of his poise. He's very calm, very strategic, he's thinking the whole time and he's able to operate at a very high level. But it's getting better every week, very Jake Rudock like, I mean Jake really grew at that and was a great example for Wilton last year. He's definitely an ascending player in that area.

On the feeling of victory after last year's loss to Michigan State...

Anytime you lose it's that, the agony of defeat and anytime you win it's the thrill of victory and wonderful feeling of winning, just the fact of business.

On the significance of beating Michigan State...

We treat every game like it's a big game, we treat every game like it's the championship game and fortunately our guys made the play today and the credit goes to the players, also the assistant coaches did a tremendous job. Really proud of everybody, all our staff and now it's onward.

On the team's composure and attitude...

I thought our guys played really good, solid football and made big plays. That's the way I look at it, I was really proud of them and really proud of the way they played. They performed admirably and got the W. Did they play with composure and poise, I thought so yes.

Michigan State co-offensive coordinator Dave Warner

On first and goal and if there was a consideration of a pass play...

We were running the ball well on that formation leading up to that, and I thought we would get it in. There is a consideration for a pass every time, but right there we thought we could smash it in because we were doing a good job in that formation up to that time.

On taking LJ Scott out...

LJ (Scott) was in there for a lot of plays today and the first drive was a long drive - we probably should have taken him out before the end of the first drive - but Gerald (Holmes) was in there throughout the course of the game because he deserves to play, so LJ (Scott) is just not going to get every play. It was just a situation where Gerald (Holmes) needed to get in there, and he deserved to be in there.

On if something physical was keeping Brian Lewerke from going in sooner...

I won't comment on that. With our injury policy, I won't talk about that. Damion Terry, I will tell you that Damion Terry worked hard and deserved the opportunity to be in there. It was a good opportunity for him, but unfortunately, he got a little dinged up too. I thought he did some good things when he was in there.

On if Tyler O'Connor will be the starter going forward...

I don't know. It's not a great situation, but I thought they all did some great things today, but as plays were made, we probably could have made some different decisions. We'll evaluate, as we've been doing the past couple weeks, we'll evaluate both physically and game plan and execution-wise in practice and then we'll go from there.

On Brian Lewerke...

I've said all along, sometimes you just wonder where his eyes are going. Sometimes he's supposed to be looking one way and then he looks the other way, but then all of a sudden he'll move around and scramble around and make something happen. He has the ability to do that and I think that's a great quality for a quarterback.

On running game...

I think it starts with an attitude and when two weeks ago we weren't running the ball very good we decided that we needed to force it on our offense to run the football. Our offensive line took that as a challenge and the last couple weeks they've been doing better. We found ways to try and get guards and our lines have been blocking well for the most part. Our backs have been running well. When things go right, it's sort of a team deal, but we screwed up here and screwed up there and I think it's the whole team.

On pass that was intercepted before the half...

Tyler [O'Connor] was trying to make something happen. I think had we protected better, it would have been a better throw. Again, it was not on Tyler (O'Connor). He did do a little something different. He changed the protection, but it was part of the play. It was not a good decision looking back. It was not a good decision on my part and it wasn't a good decision on Tyler (O'Connor's) part.

Michigan State assistant head coach/co-defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett

On the difference between the first and second half...

The guys started playing smarter. That's the best way I can say it. I mean, they did. I felt like it was what we prepared for throughout the course of the week. For whatever reason, when those things were happening in the first half - communication and execution - whatever it may be, it wasn't getting done. We talked about that at half time and they came out and played a little better.

On tweaking things going forward...

Absolutely. I think we are always just trying to find ways to get better and put our guys in a position to make plays. There were a few things out there that were a little different. We will keep moving forward from there.

On Donnie Corley playing both sides...

That was something that was talked about back in recruiting. It was something that he always wanted to do. With the injuries and everything, we thought it was time to bring him over and give him some reps. We felt comfortable with him out there.

On the frustration level...

It is as high as it can be. Nobody likes losing, especially with the success that we've had around here. It's not an easy pill to swallow. What we keep doing, every week - some people are more resilient than other people, but as coaches, we get ourselves back on, we get our juice back on and the week goes on and we're ready to go. I always expect to win. That's who I am. I always think that I'm going to win, and that's how I feel about our team. We have to finish out strong, and we have to get a win.

On lack of pass rush...

You try to fix it with what you have right now. You try and say, `what do we need to do to be better?' The only thing you can do is going out and recruiting and things like that. Not to throw any of our guys under the bus, but it is what it is. They had great pass rush as well. Great schemes and getting guys through. So we really have to look at that, and we are looking at that now. We're trying. We moved Malik (McDowell) out to the end a few weeks ago because he is our most dynamic pass rusher, so we are just trying to find ways. We definitely need to get that fixed.

On containing Darboh...

Well first of all, it's not just the individuals; it's the schemes they run. They are well-coached and that allows them to make plays. When their players have the opportunity to make plays, them seem to make them because they know that that's the position that their coaches put them in.

On Ed Davis...

Ed (Davis) was moving around pretty good today. He was excited to play in this game, obviously, being a young man from the Detroit area and he didn't get to play it in last year, so he was excited. It looked like he played fast and physical and that's what we talked about before the game - everybody playing fast, physical and violent. It looked like he did a good job with that form what I could see without watching the film.

Michigan State senior tight end Josiah Price

On his reflection of the game...

You know it's tough. I mean we did a lot of positive things offensively. Moved the ball really well, ran the ball really well, but it's a big rivalry game and we came out on the sour end of it. It's really frustrating, especially it being my senior year, and I don't get another crack at those guys. But it was a fun game, got to give credit to Michigan. They came in and played a great game. But we really left a lot out there. I feel like especially offensively.

On playing well but still taking a loss...

Yeah [it was a moral victory], but not really. We got to get a win here.

On team mentality...

I think it's the mentality and it's an execution thing you know. We got all eleven guys working on the same page, we're going to run the ball pretty darn well like we did today. And yeah I do think it has a huge thing to do with mentality. We came out there and we were ready to play today. We came out and had the mojo. Our MO this week was we were going to run the ball on them, we were going to pound the ball on them. But we didn't care how or what or why, and I think we showed that.

On the morale after the first drive...

Yeah like I said I mean it was fun out there. It was fun running the ball on those dudes. It was fun running the ball really effectively. So I said there were a lot of positives to take away, especially offensively, but just frustrating. I think it was four times we were on the plus side of the field. Probably in the plus 40, maybe even 30, and we came away with no points. Three turnovers went down and a missed field goal. I saw offensively that's just not good enough. You're not going to win against a number two team in the nation when you do that. So, it's really frustrating, but we'll bounce back.

Michigan State senior wide receiver R.J. Shelton

On the morale after another loss...

Yeah, I mean we came out and then we had a good offense. Came out on fire and ran the ball. Controlled the line of scrimmage. You know it got away from us. We were shooting ourselves in the foot once again. But you got to keep playing and you got to keep pushing.

On the first drive...

Of course you mean you want that every time. You want that continuously. It's not just one drive. You got to put that for multiple drives and continue to make plays.

On light at the end of tunnel...

The light is that we got to keep pushing. Can't hide the elephant in the room. You got to keep pushing and keep striving to be great. You got to take it upon yourself to be great. Each individual needs to come out and the preparation that you put in is going to show on the field. Both sides of the ball, offense, defense and special teams. As a person you got to do your job and come ready to work.

On the success of the running game...

Well that's what happens when you believe in each other and you believe in the line. You're confident and that's what happens. Guys doing their jobs. When guys do their jobs, it's home run hitters, you're at least getting 10 or 15 yards, in a 7 yard game. Guys come out and do their jobs, that's what's going to happen every time.

Michigan State senior linebacker Riley Bullough

On turning missed opportunities into success...

"I think the biggest thing to learn from this game defensively is we have the guys that can go in there and do the job, but all 11 guys got to know exactly their job on every play. I think it's tough, we don't have too many seniors on the defense so you're dealing with younger guys, and that is always tough for them. Everyone has to know their job on every play, and I don't think we did that, and I think Michigan took advantage of that, especially in the first half."

On coming out of the locker room with more fire and how will that help the upcoming final games...

"I think some of the guys did gain some confidence today playing against a really good Michigan team. We will just have to use that moving forward. We have a few games left, and we have to come out firing on all cylinders for all of them, so that's the plan."

On seeing the Paul Bunyan go away...

"Well it doesn't feel good especially this being my last time. I have faith in the guys next year to bring it back to EL, and keep it here."

On the second half defense...

"Everyone started doing their assignments. In football all 11 guys have to do their job every single play. When you play a good team like Michigan like we did today, if you don't they're going to take advantage of it, and that's what happened a few times. Our guys played tough. We kept fighting the whole game so that is something positive."

On Ed Davis' performance...

"We have seen that in practice. He has been able to move a little bit more, and is getting comfortable on his knee. I think you saw some of that today, and he will only continue to get better."

On the second half defense...

"We have competitive guys, we want to win, and we want to play tough. We want to play Spartan defense. It is all about the little things, you have to do your job. I am going to keep saying that because that is extremely important. It is extremely important to get in the film room to see what the other teams are doing and that's the difference between an average defense and a great defense. 11 guys can understand that's what you need to win. But we've got competitive guys, athletes that can play, and I think they learned a lot, and I think their confidence has been helped today."

On what stood out the most about the defense...

"We wanted to finish a game, and play tough all four quarters, and I think you saw that from the defense. I think if we could have played a better first half there could have been a different outcome, but I am just proud of the guys that keep fighting and doing everything they can to come back and try to get a win. It didn't happen, but I am proud of the guys who fight for it."

Michigan State Redshirt senior QB Tyler O'Connor

On if he feels the team had a little bit more of an edge to them this week...

Most definitely. It is Michigan week, so it is going to be that way. As a football team, we came out with the mindset that we were going to run the ball and we did that. To us, obviously there are no moral victories in a game like this...We were physical and we were tougher, and had many opportunities in that game. We just needed to score more points than we did. We had three trips down to the red zone, stopped on fourth down and then a missed field goal. If we do the things that we need to do on 4th-and-1 or 4th-and-2, I think we have a very good opportunity to win that game.

On running the ball four times inside of the 5-yard line and if there was any thought of a pass...

We had done such a great job of running the ball so far and I understand the play calls. You can't argue them with how effectively we ran the ball. We didn't really have the formation to check to a pass in that type of situation. Bottom line is we have to get a push. 1st-and-goal from the 2-yard line, we expect to be able to run the ball. If it takes four times, it shouldn't, but if it takes four times, we expect to get it in.

On if there was a chance to sneak the ball on 4th-and-1...

The 4th-and-1 was a big play. I ran off the field saying that we should have checked to it. It is tough. Hindsight is 20/20. It is tough. It is an opportunity that we look back and should have checked it. It was a great defense called off of what we ran, and we probably could have gotten out of it.

On how they start to capitalize on opportunities with four games to go...

It is tough, and I say that repetitively. We keep facing those same issues and like I said, there is no moral victories and there are missed opportunities and things like that, but we just have to keep overcoming, keep teaching people and wherever this season leads us, our goal is to finish this season on a high note and go to a bowl game and take these younger classmen to where they should be and where we should have been this year.

On if it is becoming a challenge to make sure this team doesn't emotionally check out...

This week could be a big way to answer that, because this week, it is easy to get hype to play Michigan. We feel disrespect every time we go play them. Obviously, our record didn't show coming into this game this year, but every year, we kind of feel disrespect by anybody. But, it is easy to get hyped this week, but this upcoming week is going to be tougher than ever to get everyone hyped up. I think what you saw in today's game was the fight and a lot of character from a lot of guys. Even the audacity from Coach D to go for two in a situation that might not have even mattered, because we are fighting for inches here every single play no matter what. We are going to bring that character every single game and try to roll that into next week.

Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight

On U of M's second half offense...

We had a game plan to go into the second half and we thought we executed very well, so does the coaches. There was a couple plays here and there that we wish we had back but I'm cool with it.

On U of M's running game...

Anytime you can get the ball moving on the ground, it's demoralizing to their defense, whoever you're playing. But, the fact that is was a rivalry game and we were able to come out and hit them in the mouth offense line wise and running back wise it opened up the passing game.

On getting Paul Bunyan back...

Guys my class and under have never experienced that feeling so it was cool.

On passing to Amara Darboh...

There was a couple times here and there when they weren't exactly wide open, they were covered, but when you're throwing to guys like Jake Butt or Amara Darboh that's not really considered covered in the quarterbacks eyes, I was able to throw him a couple high balls because I knew he'd be able to go and get it over the top of the corner.

On third down conversions...

That's very important. From a football standpoint, when your back is against the wall on third down, the momentum can shift easily back to the other team if they're able to make a stop. It was enough to keep the momentum on our side and that's what we've been trying to do.

On their defense making plays on 4th down...

That fires us up. The defense all year are really a bend and don't break type defense. They bent a little bit more than usual today and we'll admit that, but, they never break and it speaks very highly of the defensive line with the linebackers. Like I said having your backs against the wall to be able to fire up out on the offensive line and make sure the push goes in our favor.

Michigan wide receiver Amara Darboh

On getting Paul Bunyan back...

It was a great moment, it's a great rivalry and anytime we can get Paul back to Ann Arbor is a great thing for us.

On making catches...

Yeah it starts off with practice, Monday through Friday, I try to go out and practice like it's a game and Wilton was putting the ball where I needed it to be, the line was blocking and the running backs were picking up blitz. It was on me to plays if it's one on one out there.

On talks of winning by a larger margin and team records...

It's a rivalry game so when you go into games like that records really don't matter, we understood that they were a good team. I think they had a lot of the guys coming back from last year so we really didn't focus on that we just focus on us and preparing and making sure we executed to get enough points to win.

On Wilton's poise...

I thought he was very poised, I think he's getting better with that throughout the season. I think throughout the bye-week that was something that he improved on, he's more confident calling the plays and everything -- confident in the pocket and that confidence translates to him building a better ball game.


 

 

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