Nov. 17, 2013
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Opening statement and finally beating Nebraska for the first time...
It is not about me, it is about our football program. We look at our football program right now, as far as I am concerned, we have been one out of three (against Nebraska) since we have been here. I thought it was an outstanding job by our football team as a team. You had an opportunity to take away five turnovers first of all. It is tough to lose a football game when that happens. We started out on the short side of the field, and we were able to score during those opportunities.
But, with that being said, I thought Nebraska rallied and played extremely well as the game progressed. Look at our offense; slow to start but I thought Connor Cook threw the ball effectively in the second half. Big catches by our wide receivers. We had some plays on special teams - which if you are going to win you have to win plays on special teams. I thought we were solid, we had the fake field goal and we also had a big punt return so I thought we won special teams.
I thought our defense - a little uncharacteristic, they were able to run the ball a little bit more effectively than we thought, but credit Nebraska on that. Abdullah is an outstanding running back, but our defense played extremely well. When you come up with five turnovers, you did something right, too. Just a team win, program win and we are excited about being 9-1. Everything is in our corner.
On the fake field goal...
Well at some point in time, your head football coach has to take some chances. I told our football team at halftime, 'hey we are going to roll the dice.' I already made up my mind on that series, if we got within field goal range we were running the field goal fake 'Charlie Brown'. So that is what we decided to do, then when we got up there and it was fourth-and-1 and I thought maybe we should just go for it, but it was too late. It worked. Big touchdown catch (on third-down following the fake field goal) or otherwise we would only have gotten a field goal.
On Connor Cook's play during the fourth-quarter drive that put Michigan State ahead by two scores...
I think he has done an outstanding job throughout this season. Things are not going to be perfect out there, and there are going to be some times where he steps back, but I continue to talk about his resiliency. He has that ability to put it past him and move forward. There were a couple times he got sacked, he held on to the football. He delivered. He had some big throws in the third and fourth quarter that really put us over the top a little bit. I am very, very happy for all of our Spartans, everywhere. This is a moment...a moment we can kind of sit back and take in. We have 24 hours, then we move on to Northwestern.
On what the win means for the program...
Well the reality is, we have played for a championship in 2008 at the end of the season, 2010, 2011 and now 2013, we will have a chance to play for a championship. On the last game of the season, any way you cut it, it is a Legends Championship, any way you cut it. Those are positives, those are big positive steps for a program from when we came here. It shows we have a solid foundation but we need to continue to coach, and play and play up and continue to climb the latter. You want to be where we are at, at the end of the season. I think it was a statement for a lot of people, for recruits and for everybody else.
On Nebraska I-back Ameer Abdullah...
Abdullah is a very good running back. Quick, explosive, he gets a crease and he can get it and go. He is a very good player. There is a reason why he was the league's leader in rushing.
On deciding to call for the fake field goal...
Well if you look back at our history we have taken chances, we have taken opportunities. You can't do it every game, but at some point in time you can take calculated risks. It is all risk and reward and it is all about timing. It is all about the situation. We have been fortunate we have been on the front end of some of those things, because they can all be defended if you knew they were coming.