Football Media Day: Assistant Coaches
 
 
 
Assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi talks to reporters at media day.
 
Assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi talks to reporters at media day.
 
 
Aug. 4, 2014

EAST LANSING, Mich. - All nine of MSU's assistant coaches attended media day on Monday in the Huntington Club at Spartan Stadium to preview the upcoming season.

Below are quotes from each of the assistant coaches.

DEFENSE:

Assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi

On today's practice...
It was ok. There was good recall from spring ball. I think there are some guys that were average in the spring and came out above average, so they got better in the summer and they know what they're doing better.

On the new two-hour rule...
I think it helped quite a bit. I think it was good to be able to sit and talk and get them caught up on football, to just get some of the basics out of the way.

On finding more effort in the defense...
I was pretty happy after spring ball and getting real happy after three days of what we've got. I think with spring ball there's always this `it's spring ball; it's nothing,' but when they see that countdown clock they know it's right around the corner. I always think it's more serious than during spring ball. They're into it right now.

On Joel Heath...
He's got to continue to be sound fundamentally. He works his hands well one snap and the next snap, he doesn't. It's just consistency. I think that's at every position, every player, not just Joel Heath. He's got the athletic ability. He's very coachable, always coachable.

Secondary coach Harlon Barnett

On replacing players from last season...
I have been telling people all offseason that this is a big year to find out if we are an elite program. The names change, but does the winning continue? We are about to find out if that is what we are. I believe it is and I am excited to find out.


 

 

On building the secondary back up...
Our older guys will help with that and that is how we get better. There is big time competition, but if you are secure in your abilities, then you don't mind helping others out. You know what you can do and you don't mind competing, and that is what we have always stressed. If injuries occur, then the person who goes in can have confidence.

On Michigan State's championship...
I know people around the country are starting to see what we are doing. We are as consistent as we have been in many, many years. When we go out recruiting, you can hear young men saying things to us that we don't have to say. I went to several places where people knew who Darqueze Dennard was. We have to continue to do what we do. Don't get caught up in the success. If we do what we can do, we will be just fine.

Defensive line coach Ron Burton

On Malik McDowell...
We are looking for guys who can help us inside and out. Right now it is a race to find out who that is. In the first three days we have shown more than one guy who has the opportunity to help us this fall and he is one of the guys.

Thoughts on the injury to Damon Knox...
Well, number one with Damon being hurt you lose his three hundred plus plays for us last year. We are going to utilize Lawrence Thomas inside as much as possible. He is a 300-pound kid with great get off and good strength and we expect a lot out of him this year until Damon comes back.

On the next man up mentality...
I think that is a necessity because of what we do up front. Inside we play five guys and I think that is necessary to understand where we need to be as the season progresses we have to play more than two deep physical tackles inside. You will see four, five guys just as we did last year.

Linebackers/Special Teams coach Mike Tressel

On having special teams game ready...
It is huge. We are going to play a lot of tight football games. We are not often going to be in a situation where making or missing field goals are a non factor. We recruited Michael (Giger) because he was the most consistent.

On the line backing crew this season... The tone has been set that the linebackers for MSU are going to be great football players. They have had the opportunity to watch some of these players prepare and that is going to help them.

OFFENSE:

Co-offensive coordinator/running backs coach Dave Warner

Similarities of plays from last season...
I wouldn't say a lot. It is too early to tell but I think we are who we are. We have been that way for seven years and we will for year number eight. But I mean if I were going to put a percentage on it 90-95% is Michigan State offense.

Looking back at" the inches" last year...
I think first off our red zone offense was better last year. There was one area where we thought we needed to improve. I don't think we are all way there yet. You want to score touchdowns when you are down there. We scored better, we were better in the red zone. But at the same time we have to score touchdowns so we are better there but we need to continue to get better. The inches came up in a couple of different categories. You ask for inches but in the long run it ends up being yards and we had a lot more big plays last year, way more big plays we had the year before. Ten-yard run, 15-yard passes, a lot more. Our third-down percentage was much higher last year than it was the previous year. So I guess I am not giving you inches but I am giving you situations where we failed two years ago where we made the improvement to make and last year it made a difference for us.

On having the quarterback position solidified...
Obviously Connor (Cook) has proven that he can be the guy for us. It is good to have that confidence not just for us as coaches but us as an offensive football team. His confidence breeds confidence into our offense. I think that is the biggest thing we know for the most part that Connor is going to be the guy. Let's face it; he earned that by what he did last year on the football field. I think that permeates throughout our offense and gives us a lot for confidence in 2014.

Co-offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Jim Bollman

On expanding upon the existing offensive line...
Those guys have played a number of significant snaps. Well, right now we feel like we have five of those eight guys back with a sixth one who's ready to go. Now, let's see if we can work a seventh or eighth guy in, whoever that may be. It's easier said than done. First of all, guys have to be capable of playing when you stick them in there; you don't want to put anyone at risk. If you're going to put in a sixth or seventh guy, they have to be able to work with the other guys in there so there's not a flaw in communication or in the execution of things.

If you can do it, there are big benefits. It keeps people fresh as the year goes on. As people graduate, there are people who are ready to step in who have a lot of experience other than mop-up kind of things. The other thing it does that people don't take into account is that you practice a lot differently. If you're only a second-team guy, you might know you're not going to be in there and, try as you might, you end up just going through the motions. When you know you're going to be in there, you better know how to pick up that blitz. You need to recognize that front and that makes everyone more tuned in at practice. So, I think there are big benefits.

On Kodi Kieler...
He's a really great athlete for the position. He's now entering his third year in a program, so he's starting to get that experience. He shows himself on the field as a person who's going to be in the game for sure. Whether he actually starts, I don't know, but he's going to be in there. He's going to be a major contributor on the offensive line.

Quarterbacks coach Brad Salem

On Connor Cook's in-game presence
I think any time that, with any experience, there will be calmness within. The reality of experience is valuable. You can see it in his demeanor, his presence in the huddle. He just doesn't seem as anxious. He's doing a nice job.

On Cook handling the hype...
He's very simple-minded that way. He really understands what it takes to play the position. In his mind, he looks at himself and sees how far he has to go. I think that's a positive thing. He's just not satisfied. He wants to continue to work and continue to improve at the craft of quarterback.

On the stability of chemistry with the receiving corp...
You can see it. They're working together. I think you will see that it makes it a little more seamless this fall.

On Damion Terry's recovery...
We have to be careful with certain things that he does, but he can do all the team stuff and hand-off, drop back and throw. He has all the reps he needs to continue to develop as a quarterback. I think his summer was really good to him. I think he was very conscious of what he needed to learn and get done. Even compared to spring ball, there's just a different comfort level of him verbalizing and calling signals. There are so many mechanics of just getting to the line of scrimmage. That's the simple part, but there's a process.

Wide receivers coach Terrence Samuel

On how far the receivers have come...
You knew it was going to happen. You could see flashes of it with these guys. You have to give them a chance to grow. Now, we want to continue where we left off. I thought we kept getting better. It was rock at first, but we kept going up and getting better.

On Aaron Burbridge...
Where he is at right now is great. He is 4.4 speed all day. He is finally comfortable with the offense. He can play any position and understands the offense at a great level. That is a tribute to him because we have moved him around a lot and now he understands it all. He is comfortable with all of them. The biggest thing for him is finishing catches and he has done that so far in camp. He has great hands and now that he is finishing catches, that is big for him.

On R.J. Shelton...
R.J. learned the playbook over the summer and it has now opened up to him. We have put him into the slot and can do a lot more with him with sweeps and things of that nature, so it will be fun to see how he develops. We have to find a way to make sure that he is getting his touches. If I am putting him out there, you know I trust him.

Offensive line coach Mark Staten

Combinations on the offensive line and the tight ends...
We've got guys; (Jim) Bollman is deep now at tight end. We don't need to move a big, big guy out there because he has got three guys who are almost 260 pounds at the tight end position right now and he has got some other guys that can move and got sped to stretch the field. So I don't know if we need to do that but we can. That's the nice thing, because you have a guy like Connor Cruz who played that position a year ago when we go to the hogs. So, we can move him out, move Donavon (Clark) in. We've got all kinds of combinations we can have fun with.

Thoughts on a rotating offensive line...
I can't tell you that there is an ideal number. It's something that I wanted to do and felt good about doing last year. If I feel good with seven, we will go with seven. If I feel good with eight, we will go with eight. If I feel good with nine we will go with nine. Because it does nothing but make us better all the way across the board, because you are not getting as many injuries, you are getting guys experience not only for this year but years to come. There is a higher sense of detail because it could be second series, it could be third series, and it could be fourth series when they are going in. So they better know what is going on.

On Jack Conklin slimming down...
He lost a lot of body fat. He was a bit tubby and it was his choice. I like him around 310 pounds, but what he tried to do was change the composition of his body and he's young. He is turning 20 here in a couple of weeks so he is till really young and his body still has many ways to develop.