Post-Game Quotes: Minnesota
 
 
 

 

 
 

Nov. 30, 2013

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Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio

Opening statement...
Really, when you look at the football game from start to finish, I think it was a physical football game. Minnesota came to play, obviously. I thought our guys did, too. There was no lack of enthusiasm. We came out the first series, went down the field and scored, then did the same in the second half which is an indication of attitude. We didn't play as well maybe as we had offensively, but we grinded it out. Defensively, three points - you're not going to lose too many games giving up three points so outstanding job by our defense. Big takeaway by Tyler Hoover down inside the red zone on third-and-7 or something from the 11-yard line. I'm not sure who got the strip, if he did or not, but outstanding job by Hoover getting that. Big play of the game, probably, when they got a chance to pull within three or eight, one of the two. I'm very proud of our football team - 40 wins in four years, 11 wins this year. You're going to have some games where you've got to reach back and scratch and dig for things and we were able to do that today. I'm very proud of our guys, our senior leaders. I've said all along that we win because of our chemistry. I believe that, I believe that totally. (We're) 7-0 at home for the third time in four years, 8-0 in the conference for the first time that's ever been done, 11-1 for the third time in three years. Not too many football programs in the country can say those things, so I just want to congratulate our football team and what they've been able to accomplish. I thought our fans were outstanding today. It was loud down there. It was enthusiastic. It was the last time in the locker room; the new locker room will be done by June I guess. So it was very important that we represent this program and all those who came in front of us being in that locker room for the last time. That was important and something that we had talked about. The opportunity to win 11 maybe gets us in the top-10. Congratulations to Minnesota, tough game. They're a much improved football team. What coach (Jerry) Kill has been able to accomplish in three years is really outstanding.

On preparing any differently for the Big Ten Championship than how they did in 2011...
We've always gone live at times. I think when you come down and watch the game and really analyze the game in 2011, it was a great football game from start to finish, wire to wire. We lost the game on one of the last plays of the game. There's not too much I would change other than the last play of the game or something like that. But our guys played their hearts out. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. That was a tough one for us to swallow, but we rebounded and played very well in the Outback Bowl and ended up about No. 9 or 10 in the nation that year. I'm not sure what we would change. I just know it will be a tremendous challenge for us. It will be a tremendous environment. Our guys will be very excited. We'll play confident and we'll play to win; that's all I know.

On what it would mean to the program to get to a Rose Bowl...
Well you set goals. Everybody sets goals for themselves. That's a goal that we have not yet accomplished. So that's the number one goal - to be the outright Big Ten Champion. The way the format is structured now would be something that would be very important to this program. Obviously to get to the Rose Bowl is something that we've aspired to since the day we set foot on this campus back in 1995. When we came back in 2007, the same thing was talked about on the day that I got the job. So obviously it's always been in the background, pushing us forward and propelling us and giving us added enthusiasm for what we do.

On wanting to score on the last drive with hopes of getting in the top-10 ...
There really wasn't. I wasn't going to put the ball up in the air, that's for sure. If we were going to be able to run it in and Nick (Hill) almost busted a couple, Jeremy (Langford) almost busted a couple, if that would have happened then that's a good thing. But the bottom line is do we win or do we lose, that's the bottom line. There are a lot of football teams around that are 7-0 or 8-0 and they are No. 4 or 5 in the nation, and then they fall out. We've had to climb our way up. We've had to do it the hard way. I think with based on who's playing who, some things you can shake out but some things you have no control over. All I can tell you is that we played the game to win. At the end of the game we played to win. I'm not there to try to run up the score on anybody, so there wasn't going to be a pass in that last two minutes.

On whether he thinks MSU has earned a BCS bid regardless of Big Ten Championship result...
I think that two teams from the Big Ten should go. There's always going to be risks when you play in a championship game; they're risks. If we sit back right now and say, `hey, let's let somebody else go play in that championship game,' I don't think there would be any question that we would play in a BCS game. I don't think that there is any question that we don't at 11-1. But we're not going to do that. We're going to risk moving forward, we're going to put all the chips on the table and try to go to the Rose Bowl. I think when you do that, you put yourself at risk a little bit. That's someone else's decision. All I can do is lay it out there that we've got a good team. We've got a great, great crowd base that's going to travel to games. We've got an exciting football team. We're the No. 1 defense in America, probably in a lot of categories. This performance won't hurt us in terms of scoring defense and some other things. That's who we are and hopefully we are attractive enough if we lose, but we don't plan on losing.

On whether he's seen in-season progression in a offense like he has seen this year...
No, I don't think we really have ever been a part of an in-season progression because we started slow and had a lot of young players that had not played. When you're playing a guy at the quarterback position in his first opportunity, there's going to be some mistakes and you're trying to figure out exactly who that guy's going to be because it wasn't laid out in the spring or the summer based on performance. But that's what we struggled with a little bit. I know Connor (Cook) could've played a little better today, I know he didn't play as well as he has played. But he's 10-1 as a starter right now and that's pretty good. We stayed the course with him and there's no question he should have played better at the quarterback position and that's tied to everything, as is all of this. When you're in a position of leadership, things get tied to you pretty quickly, so it's a lot of pressure on him. But he'll bounce back, he's a resilient young man and he had his moments in the game where he played outstanding.

On lack of celebration speaking to the maturity of the team...
Well we've been here before, we've won 11 games before. It feels good. I don't think there's any question it feels very good. You feel like you've attained a goal. But at the same time, you're right, nobody's giving anyone Gatorade showers. We've got one more to go. That's what we want to do. Those are our goals. That's what we've set out to do early in the season and we've accomplished running through the Big Ten, the schedule that we've had and played well enough to win, played away from home, played at home so on to the next one. They all count one out there, on to the next one. We've put ourselves in position that who knows what can happen at 12-1. Why not us? We've got to win 12 first in order to do those things. But you need to dream big and that's what we're doing.

On whether he expects some of the guys to get started on Ohio State, with the 24-hour rule ...
We've done some background things, but we need to be fresh. We need to be fresh as a program, fresh as coaches and fresh as players. So we'll just take this. We have plenty of time to find out who they are and who we are relative to that. So we'll get ready to play. It will be an exciting opportunity. That environment down there is very exciting. When you put something on the table where it's a you win, you go here or you lose, you go here or wherever, it becomes very exciting and get's you going. It's a `one and done' type thing. So I guess a week and a day from now, we'll know whether we're going to the Rose Bowl or someplace else.

On whether being at the Big Ten Championship Game before will help ...
We've been in that environment so we know what to expect. The expectations are there. We know the layout a little bit. We've not played that football team in there; we played them last year. There's some common knowledge there with both teams. But things are going to change. It's going to be exciting. It's a big deal. It's a really big deal.

On if it is better that Ohio State beat Michigan...
I really don't care about that football game, other than as a fan of course. I've got my own problems. We'll stay right here and concentrate on what we have to do. I'm sure it was a great football game and one that will be talked about for a long time.

On who he wanted to win the Ohio State vs. Michigan game, as a fan...
As a fan, that's a tough one. I could almost have my alter person over here and one over here. I couldn't even tell you that. Just play the game. We just play our game.

On the lighter mood around the team contributing to the team's success...
I think you have to be fresh. I think it's very important that you don't put pressure on yourself. There's pressure enough. You've got to stay fresh. You've got to make things fun for our football team. They've got to understand that it's not the end of the world if we don't succeed. They have to understand that. These are 18 to 22-year old young people and so you're going to play better when you play enthusiastically. That's what we'll do next week. We're going to be who we are. We're not going to get all wound up, tight. Well be who are going into this football game. But we're going to play to win and we play hard. Our football team plays hard. I don't' think anybody's going to sit there and say, `well you know what, Michigan State's not very tough. Michigan State doesn't play with a lot of effort.' People are going to say, at the bottom line, those things are going to happen.

On Minnesota winning on the time of possession ...
When I look up at the clock at the end of the third quarter and we were down by 12 minutes in possession time, I recognized that and said, `well we better run some clock this period.' But that's the first time this season that we've not won the possession time and really that's the first time Minnesota has lost when they've won the possession time. There was a reason the game seemed so close - they had the ball. I'm not sure why or how. As the game goes along, you sort of lose track of that because you're trying to play series-to-series and you're just trying to score or prevent the score. You're just in it. So I'm not really sure why. We had three turnovers and usually that equates to some of those things, but they were able to run the football, which gives them clock. They're a lot like us in a lot of ways. We were 0-8 on third-down. You've got to think of eight opportunities there that we were off the field. Usually, at 4-8 or something, you're going to have another series. We could've went for it on the one fourth-down and an inch, but at that point in time we did not. I was racking myself for that whole series afterward, but it worked out.

On being overlooked at 11-1......
Let's hope so.

On the 2011 season serving as a motivator......
I think in 2011, you've got to look at it and say there were a couple of games early on, we lost to a good Wisconsin team in the championship game, but at the end of the day in the bowl game, we beat a very good Georgia team. So the season doesn't end after next week, the season ends after the bowl game. I think that's what you have to look at; you have to see how we finish. But I think what we've done, our book on us after 12 games is we're 11-1, our book on us after four season is 40 wins and that's impressive. That's impressive for any program. We have to build on that and keep moving.

University of Minnesota Head Coach Jerry Kill

Opening statement ...
The best things as far as our kids go, I think they played their tail end off. It was a physical football game. Football comes down to six, seven, eight plays, and they [Michigan State] made them, but our kids, I'm very proud of every one of them. They played hard and the great thing is, we've got another game to get better at - we've got some time to heal up - but I thought we physically played hard, and defensively we really played good, and offensively we moved the ball. We just didn't finish drives, and that happens sometimes. And field position was critical on some of those. But the effort was certainly there, and we just needed to make a few more plays.

At the same time, I compliment Michigan State, Coach Dantonio, and the program. I tell it like it is, and I don't know if anybody understands the job he's done at Michigan State. He's done a great job, and I compliment him. He's done a great job in recruiting and building the program, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and his coaching staff.

On his team's successful 8-4 regular season...
I give the credit to the kids and the coaches. They did a great job with the kids through some adversity. I think Coach Dantonio said before the game that we were both not expected to be where we're at, and I think we have certainly done some good things, but in adversity you either go one way or the other, and the good thing is that our season's not over and we still have a lot to accomplish.

On playing the Michigan State defense...
We knew it was going to be a physical war. In the Big Ten, the two teams that are improving from week-to-week are Michigan State and Wisconsin, they keep getting better. We knew that. We gave our best shot, and a break here or there, something may have been different. But credit them for executing at the right time.

I've said they're good all along. I've known Coach Narduzzi all the way back to Northern Illinois, so we know a lot of their people, and they're well coached and they've got good personnel. I'm glad some of them are graduating. That's a good thing because they're awful good, it all starts with their corners.

We had the ball 38 minutes to their 21. We missed a field goal, and then we had several opportunities inside the 30-yard line and came away with nothing, so I think we did some good things against a very good defense, and a lot of other people have not done that well. Michigan State is the #1 defense in the country, period, and when you're #1 in the country in defense you've got a chance to win a lot of games. So again, I can't say enough good things about what they do, and I've got a great deal of respect for the program and again, I think we gave a great effort and came up short and we feel bad about that, but we need to heal up and we know we're still playing, so that's a great advantage for us. It gives us an opportunity to still have a lot to accomplish this season.

Michigan State Offensive Coordinator Dave Warner

Opening statement...
First off, probably not a championship performance from us offensively. Hats off to Minnesota's defense, we knew they were a good defense coming in. They really didn't do anything we didn't expect. They obviously packed the box and tried to prevent us from running the football. They played a little more `bear' defense in the second half which caused some problems. We just need to play better offensively as we move forward into next week.

On whether he feels better about the offense today as opposed to at the beginning of the year...
I feel light years ahead of where we were through the month of September. You can see that prior to today you can see the confidence in our offense growing. Our quarterback is putting the ball on the money, our receivers are making good catches, our line is blocking well, and our running backs have been running very hard. All that together I think you can see for yourself that our confidence has grown as an offense. We didn't show that today but we'll be fine and we'll bounce back. We'll keep moving forward after today.

On how important it is to prepare thoroughly for the Big Ten Championship game next Saturday...
It's vital. There is a lot riding on it. We are going against a very good football team. We're in a situation where there are no second chances. This is something you work for all year. Once we returned from Arizona last year after our bowl game this is what we started working for. When you put in all that work, time, and dedication you want to take advantage of your opportunity and make your dreams a reality. We've had a great season but our guys will tell you, they don't want it to end in Indy. We want to go beyond that. So it's critical.

On what he expects out of quarterback Connor Cook after today...
The thing with Connor is he'll go through a game in which he struggles, but always seem to bounce back. He's a type of guy that can put a bad play behind him and move forward and make good plays. He's done that throughout the season and I expect him to continue to do that. He'll continue to push forward and do a great job of leading our offense.

On how the offensive line's improvement has caused the offense as a whole to make progress...
The first couple of games we really hung our hat on our defense and special teams. So I think those guys deserve a ton of credit for allowing us as an offense to really move forward. Our seniors on there have been playing phenomenal and have held us together offensively.

Michigan State Defensive Coordinator Pat Narduzzi

Opening statement ...
Undefeated at home is a heck of an accomplishment and I'm really excited for our seniors to have been able to do that. Those seniors on defense really played their tails off again today. It was a heck of a performance by them, only allowing three points as well as forcing three turnovers.

On cornerback Trae Waynes' performance...
They're not throwing it up on (Darqueze Dennard) side so they're throwing it up to his side. We talked about making plays all year, and that's what he did today. I'm really proud of him. That guy is a great corner and will be a great corner for the future. I hope in a couple years he's a Thorpe finalist as well. I have a lot of confidence in him and he's got great hands. The ball came his way today and he responded.

On how much of an impact the seniors leaving on defense will have...
We are losing some great players. No doubt about it. We lose a lot but we'll worry about that in spring ball. When you have Max Bullough, Denicos Allen, Isaiah Lewis, Darqueze Dennard you have a good bunch. Tyler Hoover on the line has come back great and played well for us after his injury. We lose a lot but we have some great depth behind them for the future.

On how excited he is for the Big Ten Championship game next Saturday...
I'm really excited. I got excited after the game last week. We talked about being 4-0 in November and taking it one at a time. Championships are won in November and we have an opportunity to clean up something from a year ago. So we'll be live on defense again this week, I guarantee it. That was a mistake from a year ago. It'll be all out.

On whether he has watched Ohio State play yet...
I haven't seen them on tape a whole bunch. We haven't really had a chance to see them because they've had they're breaks while we did. So haven't seen them a whole lot yet. I've heard that they are very similar to last year.

On whether he believes they have an advantage because of having played in the Big Ten Championship game in 2011...
A lot of our guys have played in it before so I think the advantage for us right now is we've been there. We know what that locker room looks like. We know what Indianapolis is like and we know how intense the game is going to be. We just have to go play our type of football game.

On whether this is the best defense he has ever coached...
There's no doubt about it. With the senior leadership we have now it's been special. I don't know if we are going to be able to do this again next season but that is just a credit to how good our seniors are. It's a great group and by far the best defense I've ever been a part of. I haven't been here as long as some of you have been but it has to rival as one of the best defense's ever at Michigan State, forget the last seven years.

Michigan State senior linebacker Denicos Allen

On getting the stop behind the line...
I was reading the tailback and I saw action away. Throughout the game I was seeing the `A' gaps open up wide and the backside `A' gaps when they ran power away. I just knew I had to shoot my gun and sell out to make a play for a loss. It was a critical play in a critical situation and that's when you have to step up and do what you have to do.

On how much he's looking forward to playing Ohio State...
I'm really looking forward to it. During the regular season last year and the year before we played Ohio State, and it was a big game for me. Being that we play them in the championship game this year it's even more of a big game for me. It's my last chance I get to play them, it's just a lot. There's a lot that I have building up for this game and I can't wait to let it all out.

On how far he's come as a man...
I've come a very long way. I came here just a player, looking to learn and better myself. I can honestly say I've accomplished that goal. I feel like I'm a better football person, I'm a better person and I feel like my journey throughout my Michigan State career that really taught me.

On if it was difficult to play today knowing what he had next weekend...
Not really. We come out every week to play. That's what the number one, as a defense that's what we do. If you want to stay number one, you've got to play like number one. We told the team all week we've got to play like a championship team no matter who we're playing or when we're playing. We've got to focus on one game at a time and dominate each game. I feel like we came out this game, not our best performance, but we held them to three points. That's good for defense, but you always want to do better. With all the yards we gave up, it may not be a lot, but it's a lot for us. It's just our mentality.

On being close to a win against Ohio State last year and close in Indianapolis a couple years ago as motivation...
That's a lot of motivation. For this team, coming off of last year, all the teams we lost to by inches, that's been our main task this year is to fight for those inches and win them. I feel like the team is ready for it. We've got something to prove. We owe them from last year. They got by us by an inch. This year we're all going to come out and do whatever we've got to do to not let that happen this year. Especially last year, looking in the seniors eyes and seeing the hurt. I saw people cry that I never thought I would see cry. I know it's a lot of emotion; it's a lot at hand. Not being to the Rose Bowl in so long and having it in our hands. All the opportunities are in front of us. I think that's definitely motivation for this team.

Michigan State Senior Linebacker Max Bullough

On if the emotion has hit him yet that it was his last game in Spartan Stadium...
Not quite yet, we've got Ohio State next week. It hits you a little bit when you're sitting in the tunnel and everyone calling their names out because you sat there for three of them already and it wasn't you, you're the one in the locker room. It kind of hit me there, just the realization that it was my last game. For me it's hard to realize. When we were running out by ourselves to see our parents that's when it kind of hit me.

On what it means to him that he is a part of what (Pat) Narduzzi said is the best defense he's coached here...
That's everything. That's what I've been saying all along. I want to be a part of a Michigan State defense that's at least mentioned as one of the best or the best to ever be at Michigan State. That's something we strive for. That's one of our goals. Our goals are very high. I think it's rightfully so the way we've performed the last few years. That means everything. That's what we want to be. We want to be the best defense.

On if he was thinking about Ohio State as he was walking off the field today...
Yea, I was thinking about Ohio State. We're always on to the next thing. What are we working on next? I did take a moment to look back and just try to enjoy it, try to realize what's really going on. I just tried to stop and think for a minute. As much as we have Ohio State next week, it was a big day for us, it was a big day for the seniors, big day for this team. We handled ourselves correctly. We took care of business. People thought we would be focused on something else. It was senior day so it was a big day for the seniors and a big day for this team and we performed.

On if it was difficult to keep the focus on this game...
I think the only conversation was that a lot of teams tend to come up flat on senior day. I think that's something that happens all around the country. That was one thing we were kind of worried about, one thing we were necessarily aware of. I think that's the one thing we mentioned a little bit, but not excessively. It's just something we needed to get over and I thought we did.

On the job the defense did in the red zone today...
It's tough. Minnesota, give credit to them, they're a good football team, they've change a lot. That coaching staff does an outstanding job. They were able to run the ball on us more than we would have liked. We knew what they were doing, we just needed to be a little bit more violent in some areas and finish some plays. They can drive down the field as many times as they want, but that's not going to win the game. It might change field position and time of possession, but if we just don't let them in the end zone. At the end of the day they can have as many yards as they want, we can be mad about that, they had 180 rush yards or whatever it was, but they had three points. They had three points, let's think about that. It's a Big Ten team that's won a lot of games and they had three points. In the end that's what matters and that's what wins football games.

On growth as a man in time at Michigan State...
I was a punk when I got here. I didn't know anything about football. Everyone thinks I knew about football, but I got here and I didn't know anything. High school football for me was just kind of about running around, I don't think I even had any past responsibilities in high school. I learned a lot. In terms of football I've learned everything. I think I've come from knowing nothing to pretty dang near knowing everything about the defense, being able to conduct it efficiently and fast. Just as a person, I've seen so many things and had so many experiences that I wouldn't have had otherwise. I wouldn't trade it for the world. Michigan State has probably been the best experience of my life so far and I'm excited to say that.

On how special it was to play football with his brother for two years at Michigan State...
It's unbelievable. I played with him in high school and even that was special. It was a little bit more interaction when we were in high school because he was a quarterback and I was a tight end and he would just throw it up to me. It's fun. It's just fun to have your brother around. He's your best friend no matter how many years apart you are. He's who you grew up with. He's the guy that you hung out with, you fought with, and you had fun times with, you complained with. He's my best friend and so are my other brothers and sisters. It's an unbelievable experience and I'll never be able to forget that.

On reflecting on the family history at Spartan Stadium and Michigan State...
I looked back right before I walked in the tunnel and I tried to take it in. I tried to stop for a minute. That's one of the things that's hard for me is to just stop for a minute and understand. Not only the players I've played with, the coaches I've had, but also all the hard work we've done. You kind of get into the routine of things and you have to lift, you have to run, you have to do that, but if you just stop and take a minute to think about all those days you didn't want to go, how many times we wouldn't of practiced if we didn't have to. All of that stuff is what kind of comes to mind as you're walking off.

On how much the last two years come into play thinking about Indianapolis...
I think this is a new team. We've got new football players, we've got older football players. It's definitely a motivating factor, it's definitely something that they were talking about earlier that we're comfortable with going there. We know what it's like. When you first go down there you kind of walk around the field for like an hour or hour and a half. The first time down there you're looking around and you've got big eyes. It's an unbelievable place, an unbelievable venue. Having said that, we've been there, we know what it takes. We're comfortable with the area, that's just something to our advantage.

On what he expects from this week and what he'll demand from his team...
It has to be the best week of practice we've ever had. It has to be a physical practice. Like Coach Narduzzi said, we've got to be live. I don't know how you guys didn't laugh at that, it's the 14th week of the season and we're going live. It's the truth. That's what we need to do and that's what we're going to do. That was a mistake that we made previously. When you've got a good quarterback, a guy that can run and pass like Braxton Miller, you need to be prepared. You need to be able to take him down to the ground. Even today I thought we missed some tackles on that tailback who's a good player. We need to be prepared for it. We can do whatever we do and as hard as practice is this week, if we win that game it doesn't matter. If we win that game we won't remember that week of practice.

Michigan State sophomore quarterback Connor Cook

On the progress of the offense over the course of the season...
What happened earlier in the year, we didn't play well against Purdue and I did not play well against Purdue, but we bounced right back against Illinois and we played awesome. Our offense was clicking on all cylinders. We know what we're capable of. Things just didn't really go our way. To win a game when you're 0-for-8 on third down, that shows you how great our offense can be. We've got to be better on third down, but we've got to be resilient. We've been resilient all year.

We made some big plays in the pass game and in the run game. Jeremy Langford busted a couple long ones and so did Aaron Burbridge, but the next one, we'd turn it over. With stuff like that, you shoot yourself in the foot. We've just got to protect the football.

On his confidence in the team...
Our guys are confident. You can see the confidence in practice and in the game, even when things aren't really going our way. They know they're playmakers, their coaches know they're playmakers, and we know they're playmakers. Confidence is never an issue.

On his feelings after today's win...
It's a great feeling. First and foremost, I'm so happy for the seniors. They've worked so hard. They've put in so much work for our programs. They've made so many sacrifices, so I'm just happy that the work I put in helped contribute to putting our team on top for the seniors.

On the coming week...
We'll probably just do what we've been doing. What we've been doing has been working so, we'll just treat it like any other game, maybe watch a little extra film because there's a lot riding on this game. So if I'm going to prepare any differently, I'm probably going to watch a lot more film.

On the potential to grow as an offense...
There's always room for improvement, especially in a game like today. You only score 14 points, but the way we were moving the ball, you'd think we would've scored a lot more. There were just some stupid mental errors on my part, not putting us in the best situations. You look at a game like this and think we could be a lot better. So, our best offensive game is still yet to come and hopefully we could get that this next Saturday.

On how he stays focused moving into the Big Ten Championship...
I think we just keep doing what we've been doing. We've played in some pretty big games. We've played in some pretty hostile environments and this will be like any other hostile environment, so we're just going to prepare for it like any other game.

Michigan State Senior Safety Isaiah Lewis

On what this last home game means...
It's fun coming back for this one. It's good feeling being undefeated in the Big Ten, coming back this week, being able to play the full game, and play with my brothers for the last time in this stadium. It's just a great accomplishment. It's a dream come true.

On sophomore corner back Trae Waynes' first two interceptions...
We always give him a hard time about it but he finally got his two today. We just play around with him and motivate him but he finally got them today and I'm happy for him.

On how Minnesota's offense runs the ball...
They're good at what they do - I got to give that to them. Good for us that we're a run-stopping defense. If we weren't a good run-stopping defense, it might have been worse. They are good at what they do and I feel like we still did our job today.

On not looking past this week...
I never look past a game. We weren't really thinking about the Big Ten Championship Game. I'm thinking about the game we just played. That's what you need to do, we go 1-0 every week - that's what we talk about. Stay focused on the game ahead, don't look past the game or your competition. The game might have been closer than it was. If you look past a team, you might slip up and they might beat you. So, you never try to look past a team, you always respect them and be ready for that game.

On getting another shot at the Big Ten Championship Game...
I'm happy. You don't even understand, the last time I was in Indianapolis, for me, I was heartbroken. I was embarrassed to lose that game. The way that I left that game, the play that happened, it just left a bad taste in my mouth. I'm just ready to go back. I was ready to go there last year but we weren't fortunate enough to make it. So this year it's time to go.

On how the championship game two years ago motivates the team now...
You never forget something like that. We use it as motivation but don't dwell on it, don't think about it so much that bad things start to happen. You don't completely want to forget it, you want to use it as motivation but at the same time, like I said, don't think about it too much because you can dwell back onto something else that you shouldn't even be worried about. It's a new game.

On the match-up against Ohio State...
We played them well last year - they only beat us by one point, but at the same time, they aren't the same team that they were last year, I have to respect them for that. They are undefeated, but you just have to play the game. Don't let their record or what people are saying about them intimidate you. We are still a D1 football team just like them. We're still a Big Ten team just like them.

On having a home field advantage...
We didn't win any Big Ten games in here last year so that was a big thing going out - going from not winning any Big Ten games in Spartan Stadium to winning all of them. It was really fun and I'm happy to be a part of this team.

Michigan State Junior Wide Receiver Tony Lippett

On his comfort level in the passing game...
I feel pretty comfortable out there. I try to go out there every day at practice and just try to find little inches, find little ways to get myself better and just to keep my confidence up, keeping being aggressive and attacking the ball. That's one thing I feel like I can do and I want to keep doing.

On his one-handed catch earlier in the game...
It was a great check by Connor (Cook). He saw the safeties were real shallow, they were real down and the corners were pressed up. We talked about it earlier in the week that we can win, we just got to make the play and I just tried to find a way to make a play on the ball. He kind of held my right arm so I just tried to go up aggressive with my left and just tried to bring it in.

On Jeremy Langford's progression throughout the season...
I feel like Jeremy gets stronger through the course of the game; his runs in the first quarter all the way to the fourth quarter. He continues to get stronger and that kind of wears the defense out when you see a running back just continuously grinding out no matter if it's three yards, five yards, six yards or even 30 or 40 yards. He can break a long run. As a wide out, we just try to put ourselves in the best position to block the safeties and just contribute to the play. He's been doing a real good job.

On halftime adjustments...
When we came into halftime we kind of figured out they were running a lot of press and they were blitzing a lot so we had to get little rub formations and little rub plays. I just tried to execute the rub with the tight end Josiah (Price) and we knew the corners would be trailing me so I just tried to make it so the corner had to belly over Josiah and all that traffic in the middle. We just tried to make plays, catch the ball, just try to focus and try to continue to make plays so that was one thing we really keyed in to at halftime.

On the growth of the offense throughout the season...
We progressed pretty good. It's basically confidence, I feel like we always had the ability - like Coach D always said we've always got the ability and the talent - but confidence comes, it comes. That's it right there. If you're not confident out there, everybody else can see it kind of. We just try to go out there and play confident. It's not the plays we're calling or anything, and not trying to blame it on the players or anything, so we just try to basically be confident and make plays.

On what the coming week will look like...
I think it's going to be intense. It's a big week for us, a big week for this program and we are just going to grind it out this week and Saturday come ready to play.

Michigan State Senior Defensive Back Darqueze Dennard

On staying focused on this game...
We did a great job throughout the week. We focused on Minnesota and basically found out their tendencies and got ready to play the game. I think everybody - offense, defense, and special teams - were all in on this game, weren't looking forward, and we all had great focus coming in.

On holding Minnesota to three points when they had multiple chances to score a touchdown...
Every time they get down there, the whole defensive mindset we get is they don't score. We don't want them to score three points, we were mad they scored three points off us. When they get down there, the whole defense just gets ready to focus even more and give great detail to all we need and just go out there and make plays.

On first thoughts on Ohio State...
It's just another opportunity. They're a great team obviously. We had them last year, they got us by one point. We know what we can do, we know we're a lot better in all aspects of the game this year and I think we all are ready to go.

On finishing out this week and the possibility of a BCS bowl...
As a whole, I think we shouldn't really worry about the whole BCS bowl. We've got to put all our time into Ohio State, watch film and dedicate ourselves this week and really try to find out what they do, whatever the players do. And find out what they do the best and try to take it away from them. Coach (Narduzzi) and the rest of the coaching staff are going to do a great job game-planning them, we're just going to come in focused and ready to play.

On being the underdog next week...
We're always the underdog. I think every person on this team we love being the underdog, we love being counted out because we all know what we all can do. Throughout this season we've been counted out, they didn't think we would be this good. I think we all just take it personal and play with an even bigger chip on our shoulder. Coming in Saturday, we're going to be ready to go.

On returning to the Big Ten Championship game as an upperclassmen...
From my experience, just telling the young guys how it felt and you don't want to have that feeling that I had. Everybody that played in the game will pretty much do the same thing, telling the young guys we need to focus up. Be in the film room, ask questions. Ask as many questions as you can and go out there and perform in practice and have a great game come the Big Ten Championship.

On what next week's game will mean...
It's all on the line. Just knowing all the hard work we put in through the offseason and we're finally here. Just how close we are. That's enough energy right there, we all spent throughout the summer running those gassers and lifting all those weights and just knowing we're there. We set our goal, we're at our goal right now and it's right there. Everybody is ready to go.

On Trae Waynes' two interceptions...
It's a great relief for me because I've been telling these guys since he got here, I've been watching him and I told them he's going to be the best corner to ever play here. Just seeing him get those picks, I told him throughout this week, `you've got to get an interception on my senior day, you got to get one.' When he got the first one I was excited and I sat on the bench and told him `when you get an interception, they come in bunches.' And then get got another one. It's a great feeling for me, I know it's a great feeling for him.

Michigan State Sophomore Defensive Back Trae Waynes

On Ohio State's offense against Michigan State's defense...
It's a great opportunity to go up against a team like that. The only way I look at this is something that will make me better as a player.

On the defense's performance today...
At first we came out pretty strong but then we started playing down to what we should be. I'm just glad we stuck it out and stayed strong and made a lot of stops when we needed to. Championship teams do what they're supposed to do all the time when they're supposed to do it. We made some errors on our part but that's something we can look at in film and correct for next week. Today was definitely not our best day, but our best is still to come. We still have two more games for sure so it will be interesting to see. Coach (Narduzzi) knows how good we can be. Even in that game, he'll nit-pick on the things we could have done better. We've still got to exceed that expectation.

Minnesota redshirt freshman quarterback Mitch Leidner

On entering the game towards the end...
We prepare for that all along. You just have to be ready to get your shot. I would like to have some things back but it is what it is.

On Minnesota's inability to make it into the end zone...
It's frustrating at times. We're working hard, we're just trying to get better. We went against a pretty good defense today and last week, and we just got to keep continuing to get better.

On the comparisons between Michigan State and Wisconsin...
I didn't play last week [against Wisconsin] but obviously both are very physical defenses. They've got some big guys there and they're both really solid.

On the mood in the locker room after playing Wisconsin and MSU close...
Guys are disappointed because we have high expectations and we go into every game thinking that we are going to win and compete as well as we can. Guys worked hard and things didn't fall the way we wanted them to but we're going to just keep getting better.

On MSU's sacks...
It makes it tough to move around in the pocket when you've got guys flying all around you and make moves on you. Credit to them, they did a good job getting pressure on us. At the same time, the offensive line played great all day. Both me and Phil [Nelson] got to avoid them and make throws.

On the adjustment to Minnesota's young receivers...
I think they've really stepped up well. Both Donovahn [Jones] and Andrew [Wolitarsky] have been working really hard all season long and continue to get better. I thought they both played really well.

Minnesota senior defensive lineman Ra'Shede Hageman

On the MSU offense...
They obviously had us on our toes because of the plays they had, but really it was going back to the basics. At the end of the day, it was just old school football.

On the MSU offense scoring at the beginning of each half and then getting stopped after...
I feel like we had to catch a groove. Obviously them scoring right away let us know that we have to crank it in, just keep playing. We just had to get in a groove and I feel like we got in one after they scored. On what Minnesota's defense had to do to keep MSU from scoring at the start of each half...
We had to catch a groove and I feel like we needed to do that earlier, right off the bat. That's one thing we need to improve. The fact that they scored right away just told the locker room that we had to go out and get after it. On if he felt like the defense needed to score to pick the offense back up...
Always, when the offense isn't going so good it's kind of up to the defense to make plays. With that fumble I could have had, I feel like I definitely could have got up and scored but I was down. I feel like defense is all about making plays. Overall I feel like the defense had to make plays and contribute to scoring.

On what he'll miss the most about playing in Big Ten games...
Probably just being with my family on the field and going through the things we've gone through, on and off the field. The brotherhood we have off the field and the friendship. I feel like it gets a lot more serious at the next level and really it's a job at the next level. Playing college football, I feel like that's way more competitive and more emotional because you have each other to play for. I'm definitely going to miss playing with the coaches and being around my teammates.

On the loss of Brock Vereen during the game...
I didn't even know that happened. I'm just so focused on the game. I usually don't even look back, I'm always facing forward so I know when I'm ready. Obviously you hope he gets better and he has a few weeks to rest.

Minnesota junior cornerback Derrick Wells

On Minnesota's defense effort...
I think today we played as a team on defense. We just try to make plays to get the offense back the ball.

On his interception...
It boosted my confidence, just to get back out there and make some plays. It boosted me up a little bit to get me back out there. If I had taken it to the house it would have been a big thing.

On what their defense has proved in the past two weeks...
I think we showed that we are a physical football team and that we can play any style offense. If they want to come out and throw, we have the DBs to guard it. If they want to run the ball downhill, we know how to come back downhill and hit them.

On how the team is feeling after playing Wisconsin and MSU back to back...
It's always hard when you lose but we had the chance to make some plays. We played good on defense. We left a couple of plays out there, but as a whole we played Division I football, we're a good team and can play the rest of the top teams in the NCAA.