Football Media Day: Assistant Coaches
 
 
 
Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi at media day on Monday. (Photo by Robert Hendricks)
 
Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi at media day on Monday. (Photo by Robert Hendricks)
 
 

Aug. 6, 2012

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.

Defensive Coordinator Pat Narduzzi

On the things that are impressing in the first few days...
"Really, in the first couple days, I guess our run test was impressive. Ken Mannie's got them in shape. Other than that, it is status quo. Guys have been running around for two days and pads go on today. That is when you really see how much carry over there is from last spring to this fall."

On the excitement coming into the season...
"I'm about as excited as I was last year before the season started, and the year before that. I've said this time and time again, and I remember sitting there about four years ago and people were saying our defensive is supposed to be good. And I said, `You know, it's supposed to be good.' You still have to go out there and make plays. We still have to go out and make plays, it is about that. If we don't go out and make plays, we won't be very good. I try to stress that to our defense. It doesn't matter what everyone says about our defense, it matters what we do about our defense. We've got to live up to expectations. We were good last year and we expect to be good again this year. We'll find out.

On added pressure on the defensive side of the ball...
"There's no added pressure. Our guys play every down like there is no one on offense. We play to win every play when we are on the field. All we can do is control what we do on defense. There is no added pressure. There is pressure in this sport, every day and every game. There is nothing new, you can't add anymore pressure. You are always maxed out there."

On William Gholston and his growth...
"Will has always been a quiet leader. Whether it's out with youths, he is always willing to spend extra time with people. That is what he is, he is a people person. He takes the young guys and feels like he can give them something stance wise and technique wise. Yesterday we were fighting after practice trying to teach LT (Lawrence Thomas). It was like, I'll do it. And he said, `No, I want to do it coach.' He's obviously matured every day and every year. He is an impressive individual."

 

 

On the depth on this defense...
"You guys think the depth is a lot better than I do. I think we have quality depth, I don't think we have enough guys. I wish we had more guys. We will find out. It is a long season and guys get banged up. You need to have quality guys. I feel like we may not have the numbers but we have good quality guys that we can put in that can get the job done."

Offensive Coordinator Dan Roushar

On the receiving corps and Bennie Fowler...
"Let's start with Bennie (Fowler), obviously he has playing experience, so he brings that to the table. Unfortunately we lost him last year for the most part of the season. What I see from him is a big, strong guy that has developed a lot of confidence in his ability to catch the football. We want to see him continue to gain consistency there. He'll be a guy that as we look at him, can work underneath and work on coverage in there and be physical and separate. At the same time, we think he has the vertical explosion and speed to threaten the field deep. He brings that to the table. That is the first thing that I seen in the first two days. When you go to Bennie you have a longer guy, taller, right in that 6-3 range. (He's) physically mature right now.

"Keith is again a guy that can really run. We are trying to refine his skill set, get him a little bit more efficient getting in and out of cuts. And finally to complete it, is just making him a more consistent pass receiver. Which is what Coach Samuel and the wideouts are doing.

"And then you are looking at AJ (Andre) Sims are in there and Jeremy Langford. Both of those guys have skill sets. I look at AJ and I see a very good competitor, goes after the ball and catches it consistently. And Jeremy brings a little bit of the tailback position to him. He can be physical, he can do things with the ball after the catch. He has gotten a lot better this summer at running routes and route execution. That kind of I think sums up those guys. What do the young guys bring and what do we have in the others, I think that will be determined here."

On the comfort level of Andrew Maxwell and his strengths...
"He looks very comfortable. He is very confident in their abilities. You see the summer work that they did, their timing has been good and the accuracy and the ball catching has been pretty solid.

"I think he is an excellent leader. The football team follows him very well. I think he has a lot of confidence in his abilities. He has a great understanding of our system. Those three things right there put you front and center in our offense. He is able to step into the huddle and make the calls when we have checks at the line of scrimmage right now. He is very knowledgeable and that part makes us move much quicker and smoother. I'm watching him throw the football with a high degree of accuracy; I like his decision making right now. I am expecting him to get better and better each time he goes out and when he gets that game experience we are going to find out a lot about him."

On the offensive line...
"The obvious thing is you have seven guys who started on the offensive line. There is cohesion, there is an understanding. They have been in game situations and they have a lot of experience to draw from that. That is a real positive...We're trying to get much better than we were, that is certainly first and foremost.

"On the backend you have backs that run the ball very effectively for us. It starts there, it always will. We will find out more about ourselves today as we put the pads on. I like where we are at up front. Guys are moving in the right direction, the communication has been good and you can sense their comfort with one another. The consistency is there, as is the cohesion and that has been very impressive. Does it change us much offensively? I don't believe so. I think we will just take it one step at a time. We want to be balanced. But we know there are going to be times where everyone in the stadium knows we are going to throw it and we are going to have to throw it effectively. And there are going to be times where everyone knows we are going to run it and we have to run it effectively. That is what we are striving for."

On the difference between Kirk Cousins and Andrew Maxwell...
"I don't think you will see too much difference. As the pieces around us merge at the skill positions that will bring a level of perspective of who we are. I think that will be determined over the next 26 practices. And as we get into the season and finding the things we do well and highlight those. I am very confident that Andrew will be the best Andrew can be. We had this discussion a while back, I said to him, `You don't have to be Kirk Cousins. You have to be the best Andrew Maxwell can be.' He is relentless in his studies, he is very passionate about his football skill sets, he has great knowledge. That is very evident already as we've went out for the first two days of practice. I love his demeanor in the huddle. I like the way he's been leading the football team. He's been positive. I am excited for his development to shine. Like we know about all these guys at the quarterback position, there are going to be days when it is not exactly the way that we want it to be. I believe that he will respond in a real positive way and the guys will follow him."

Defensive Backs Coach Harlon Barnett

On progress that has been made...
"I think we have more depth now and guys that are comfortable in our scheme. We recruit to our scheme, so we have guys that fit our scheme."

On fundamentals...
"We have to put people into place where we thought they fit best for our scheme. And again, I'm not knocking any of those previous guys, because we have some guys that can play and they did a good job for us. It's just a matter of fitting them into the right place and that's what it really boils down to."

On incoming players...
"I can honestly say after our first two days they are probably the most solid as a group of freshmen that we brought in. As a total group of guys their skill set and their mental capacity, they pick things up quick. So it's a really good group."

On developing the depth...
"The depth is pretty good, but we are still developing the depth. But talent wise and potential of the depth is there. As long as the guys keep progressing as the game goes along we should have pretty good depth throughout this entire season."

On the free safety competition...
"We thought possibly in the spring (someone would win the position)...but it hasn't been taken yet. In particular talking between Kurtis Drummond and RJ Williamson, and then we have only had two days of practice so far at camp. They are both doing well, it's a competition, they know it's a competition, they know it's there. Over the first couple days even though there are no pads on yet, Jairus Jones has been showing some things as well as Demetrious Cox, so those guys will be competing. We will see who it will be on opening day. And they will compete throughout the season which is good because it makes your game go up."

Defensive Line Coach Ted Gill

On replacing All-American and second-round NFL draft pick Jerel Worthy...
"Nobody ever recognized Anthony Rashad White until the Georgia game. Rashad made plays like that all season. What happens is when Jerel steps out of there we had (Kevin) Pickleman and Rashad and they played just as well. People don't remember how we were ranked in our defense and Jerel wasn't our whole defense. A lot of those guys stepped in there and played well also. You replace Jerel with getting more depth at different positions, a different kind of guy there. Someone else will step up and we will have some other guys be able to help out there."

On Micajah Reynolds...
"He really has been a pleasant surprise. He continues to get better and better and he is growing up. A lot of times people get older and wiser and I think he is at a point in his career that he feels like he has to get better and continue to learn. He is growing and he spent the whole summer getting better. He is in excellent condition and everything he's done all summer has really paid off."

On James Kittredge...
"He has really done a good job of getting himself ready. He was on offense the year before and he is coming over. I think he had a good spring and learned a lot about what we do as a defense. When guys come into our defense they don't know what to expect yet and it takes some time to transition from one position to another. I've been pleasantly surprised about his progress."

Linebackers/Special teams Coach Mike Tressel

On Denicos Allen and his coverage skills...
"The fact that he recognized that this is an area of growth for him, that I need to be better in coverage. He will put his mind to it and get better. I think year one as a starter he just had an aggressive; I'm going to go get `em mentality. Which is what we want, that's step one, you've got to be aggressive. And then once you get to that point there is some other things you can focus one and coverage is one for him. He also saw Greg Jones who was great against the run, great at blitzing and not as good against the pass. Greg has talked to Denicos and said, `Hey if you want to continue playing after Michigan State you better learn this coverage stuff, and learn it well. Don't just go through the motions.' He will focus on that, and be better."

On Chris Norman...
"The big thing with Chris is he is a concise kid and he wanted to be perfect all the time. Football isn't a perfect game. Especially at the linebacker position where your job can completely change depending on what happens, your job can completely change from A to Z. That caused him to freeze a little bit and over analyze things, paralysis by analysis. Now he is starting to realize, I know this game more than the people that are going to be on the field, I just have to trust myself and go. And we are starting to see that."

On the linebackers role and what they need to do...
"I want them to trust their reads and rep those reads. We will get them to the point where they are good at reading their keys. I want them to trust their reads and go. He (Chris Norman) always wanted to read it, re-read it, and verify it. Can't do that, the game is too fast. You have to trust your reads and go. I think he trusts himself now."

On Max Bullough...
"We have been working on Max in terms of his fundamentals, using his hands, playing with the power that he has. In terms of leadership and knowing where to be on the field and doing his job, he is very, very good. Doing your job, and doing your job excellent are two different things. And that is the step he is taking, just becoming better fundamentally. He has all the size and power; he needs to play with that all the time, consistently. That is where his focus really is."

Running Backs Coach Brad Salem

On the fullback position...
"We have Niko Palazeti and he has really had a great offseason. You see him athletically, he is more flexible and has the ability to change direction. In spring ball you noticed his ability to move people, create movement and create holes. He has came a long way and it is his third year, it's not his first time being around the offense. He is confident and ready to play. Also we have Taylor Calero that has moved over there to help us add depth and is learning the position right now with Trevon Pendleton. We have those three guys battling and fullback is a part of our offense. We have to have guys at that position that can make plays for us."

On Larry Caper coming into this season...
"He is a great kid to coach and has a great perspective on football. He's handled things really well. All of them want to start and carry the ball 40 times a game. If you're a tailback and you don't, that's a problem. He wants to compete. He's willing and able and he has to be ready for this season. He has a great attitude. He is great leader in our program, in the locker room, on the field, and guys follow his example. We are excited about what he is going to contribute this fall."

Wide Receivers Coach Terrence Samuel

On Tony Lippett...
"He practiced with me all during last year. He split time. He is fine, he understands the offense. This summer was really good for him to focus on the position and get past the ankle injury. I'm really excited about what he brings to the table."

On DeAnthony Arnett and learning the system...
"I really have been impressed with DeAnthony. I wanted him to come in and learn the offense and not worry about making mistakes in the spring. He did that, he had some drops but he is doing better now, he is understanding the offense, lining up and is playing faster. I really have been impressed how he went about his business so far. He has to continue on with the same progress, it is not perfect. He is not Keshawn (Martin) or B.J. (Cunningham) yet, we don't have those guys yet. Those guys are gone and now we are trying to groom them and get them better. But I like where we are right now, they are getting better."

Offensive Line Coach Mark Staten

On establishing the run...
"I think we could have established the run last year and we did more in the second half of the season. I just think you play the cards you are dealt. And knowing Roushar as long as I've known him he is very smart in knowing protections, knowing how we can get the best. We had a guy drafted at quarterback, two of our receivers, one of our running backs who is good at catching the ball. We feel like things are going good right now...That has been our motto since the spring, let's run the ball."

On the continutity...
"There is some chemistry here. We talk about how Spartan football is a family and it truly is. It comes all the way from the top with (Mark) Hollis and how he treats the entire athletic department. I told the guys, I took off my bowl ring from last year, I put it away and will not put it on again. This is 2012, and we are ready to go. That is the mindset you have to have. It will be exciting. The scoreboards and the stuff that our administration has been able to do has been phenomenal. Our kids see it, they sense it, and they appreciate it. And it gives them that extra boost."

Quarterbacks Coach Dave Warner

On Andrew Maxwell and his attributes...
"He showed right off the bat when he arrived here, and even before that in camp, he showed that he has the physical tools. He has the arm strength, he has the release, he has the physical size and has a little bit of athletic ability to him. He showed that early on. The biggest assets he has going for him right now is his ability to understand the offense, to know where to throw it and when to throw it. He has learned that through the years. He stepped in from day one right after our bowl game and I talked to him after the Outback Bowl and told him, `It's your turn.' He took it and ran with it right from the get go, as far as leadership. He's done a great job of that."

On if waiting has been the toughest part for Maxwell...
"That would be my guess. He has handled it very well. He has been very mature and very patient. I know it has been hard on him. He has done a great job of sitting and waiting in the wings."

On having a healthy Bennie Fowler this season...
"With our lack of experience, not be confused with lack of talent, at the wide receiver position, I think Bennie obviously has more experience than anybody. I'm sure there is a confidence factor there just because of previous years, plus the spring and the summer as Bennie got healthy. I know they worked very hard hand in hand. And I'm sure there is a very good confidence level as far as Bennie being the guy. Again, Bennie's got to go out and do it too. He's done it in a reserve role years ago. Now he has to do it as being the guy at that position."