Football Media Day: Assistant Coaches
 
 
 
Assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi smiles during an interview at MSU's media day on Monday.
 
Assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi smiles during an interview at MSU's media day on Monday.
 
 

Aug. 6, 2013

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.

Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Pat Narduzzi

On adding new things to the defensive scheme this year...
The new wrinkles won't be something you'll see. They'll be something you don't see. It's different stuff you haven't seen before.

On what he's learned over his career coming into this season...
You learn every day as a coach. You never stop learning. You learn how to be a better coordinator, how to be an assistant coach, how to be a better husband and father. Every day you're trying to get better.

On the trust Coach Dantonio has in him...
It feels good to know we've done a decent job on defense [in the past] and that he [Coach Dantonio] feels he doesn't need to be down there micromanaging the defense. I think it helps our kids too, because then the kids aren't hearing two different stories.

Defensive Line Coach Ron Burton

On areas of improvement...
You have guys who have strengths and you always want to continue to improve their weaknesses. That's what we're doing right now. With (James) Kittredge, he's very good inside with the pass rush. He has to continue to improve. Micajah Reynolds needs to improve on his pass rush ability. They are teaching from their strengths and what they do well and their pass rushing is getting better. It's a combination and it's just what works for you. Each kid is different.

On progression of Shilique Calhoun...
The expectation is that he is an every-down defensive end. He earned that position this spring as far as the starters are concerned. What we want is consistency and understanding what we want him to do in terms of certain calls, but also turning him loose the opportunity to make more plays.

 

 

On settling in with the personnel...
We have a good idea and we'll continue to have a good idea as we go through fall practices. We have a baseline.

On getting back to the sacks...
You always want that, but it's based on what they're giving you. That changes based on a particular call you make, whether it's a four-man rush, a five-man rush or a six-man rush. So that dictates what you're going to get.

On leadership...
We expect our leadership to come from all of our kids in the program from sophomores up. It starts with the seniors that we have like Denzel Drone, Tyler Hoover and Micajah Reynolds. That's our expectation is for them to be leaders. That's what Coach (Dantonio) has built upon them. We've got some young guys like Shilique Calhoun who also verbally is trying to lead this group as well as Marcus Rush. So it's those younger guys who have been in the program a couple of years but have great leadership potential as well. We have experience, but we need to improve on it.

Secondary Coach Harlon Barnett

On the chemistry of the defense...
We stress communication. It's a team and it should be fun to come and play football. We see it a lot. Those guys hang out and have a good time together. I think it's also based a lot on the guys we recruit and bring in. There's a certain type of personality that brings that chemistry.

On the effect of the chemistry in practice/production...
We always tell our older guys to help the younger guys coming in. That's how we keep getting better as a team as far as depth on the defense and keep their legacy going as a defense so that when they leave here, they can look back and say that's Spartan defense. That's how we expect it to be, that's how it should be.

On how Trae Waynes and Darqueze Dennard complement each other...
They complement each other very well. We've been very fortunate over the years that when you lose one corner, you pick up a corner. You go back to 2010, it was C.L. Rucker and Johnny Adams. When C.L. leaves, Johnny comes in. Then it was Darqueze and Johnny for two years. Then Johnny leaves and Trae comes in. All those guys know the standard that is set and what is expected of them. As far as complementing each other, they know what is expected, they have to perform and hold each other accountable to a higher standard.

Linebackers/Special Teams Coach Mike Tressel

On Taiwan Jones and Jairus Jones...
I wouldn't be surprised in the long run if there were some situational aspects to it, but right now, it's a competition for this job. There's no doubt that Jairus' safety experience gives him an advantage in some of the route recognition types of things. Taiwan is an athlete in space but it's just understanding the pass and route recognition. (With Jairus) having played 10, 12 yards deep, he just sees it from a different angle and understands that real well. Of course, TJ has the advantage of banging against big bodies and understanding how to do that. Right now, we're treating it as a battle but, no doubt, it could be a situational thing in the long run.

On freshman Jon Reschke...
I'm trying to teach him as much of that Mike position as possible and I'm trying to get him to watch Max (Bullough) to understand how much more there is to that position in our defense than just doing your job. You have to do everybody's job. With that being said, Kyler Elsworth is a great football player and he needs to find a way to get reps on the field somehow, someway. How it works, I don't know yet. I really, truly don't know yet. ... Kyler is a fantastic blitzer; he does have great ball skills.

On the return game...
The pool of returning men is big. It is big...We're going to do some live return stuff early in this fall camp. We're going to have to give guys opportunities, guys like Macgarrett Kings. He wasn't quite there in terms of understanding the whole scheme of it his first year, but he has some tools, now he has some confidence and swagger with him too. We've got some young guys like Darian Hicks who are explosive players too.

Co-Offensive Coordinator/Running Backs Coach Dave Warner

On what he's carried over from playing to coaching...
I think just from the experience of being so involved in the run game and the pass game from a quarterback standpoint, as well as from a coach standpoint, benefits to having that overall all-around knowledge of the entire offense. Lining up under center all the time as you do playing quarterback years ago, I think just the pressure to think quick and make quick decisions and so forth, that's a carry-over right there to calling plays.

On what's changed from his playing days...
It's definitely changed, but I think regardless of what you're doing at that position, your still making quick decisions, you're still under pressure and you've only got so much time to make those decisions when the ball is snapped. I think that's just good training.

On whether he was anxious to get going with the new position this season...
Absolutely. The summer went fast, but that was a good thing. I was anxious to get rolling.

On percentage of the spring playbook that will carry over into the fall...
We're still Michigan State football. The different things that you're going to see are just the twists and tweaks. We're not making major changes. We're still going to tailor things around who our personnel ends up being, whoever our top-11 players are. To put a number on it, maybe 75 percent, but the big thing is we're still Michigan State.

On the dynamic of a quarterback competition during fall camp...
Obviously, you've got all quarterbacks rolling through with the first offensive line and with the first group of receivers, so it might not be as ideal as you like it to be able to get that top-11 guys working together cohesively, especially at receiver. So I think you lose a little something there, but at the same time I think our football team looks at that position and that competition and they understand what's going on and they understand that it's a situation where we need to find out who's the guy.

On how long ideally to make the quarterback decision...
The ideal situation is always the sooner the better, but Coach Dantonio has stated that he's not afraid to play two quarterbacks. That remains to be seen how that all works out, but with Coach Dantonio's philosophy on that, I don't think anything will be decided before the first scrimmage. I think it will go beyond that. We'll see how the first scrimmage goes and move forward from there.

On concern over the loss of Le'Veon Bell...
It concerns me very much. When Coach Dantonio first moved things around and gave me the title, that's when we started looking at our run `cut-ups' from last year, that's when it hit me. We're missing a big part of what was our bread and butter, the run game and who was carrying in the rock in Le'Veon. We know what we got to fill those shoes and we're going to figure out how to get it done.

Co-Offensive Coordinator/Tight Ends Coach Jim Bollman

On the tight end position...
The tight ends spots are a little more unproven. There's not a whole lot of guys that have played a whole lot of ball, they've played some. Andrew Gleichert has the most experience, he's got a couple more years. Paul Lang is coming back from an injury and really missed most of the spring, but he's trying to find his way back into the mix. From there on, there's a couple of offensive line/tight end transition guys that we'll see where those guys end up. Derek Hoebing and Michael Dennis are both guys who are capable of going either way, inside or outside.

On the center position...
Travis Jackson has played center. Jack Allen has played center. Blake Treadwell has played center in the past. So it can work itself into a really good situation. Right now, guys are shuffling around a little bit, but it's good. It's not only about the numbers, but the versatility of the positions that the guys can play.

On replacing a downfield threat in Dion Sims...
Well, we'll have to see if that does emerge. There's guys who are very capable receivers, but I don't know if they are going to be really what you would call `downfield' receivers.

On emerging players...
(Donavon) Clark has actually played a lot in the past, so he'll be back. Blake Treadwell has done a great job; he's had a great spring and summer and is doing super right now.

On team mentality heading into the season...
The guys are pretty mature. They've had a great summer. They've had some experience in the past and they really want to improve. They're anxious to get going. When you've been doing this as long as I have, you see groups of guys this time of year that are kind of getting into somewhat of a drudgery. They've gone through it so many times that they're going through the motions and getting more excited as we get closer to the first game. But these guys are pretty fired up right now. They want to get better and are anxious to get going and learn plays.

On the continuity of the offense...
They know that they have to be a servant for everybody. They have to give everyone else a chance to do their job. It's hard to get a new offensive line or new quarterbacks or new tight ends when those guys inside are having a lot of problems. So it's good to get it all ironed out and get some continuity in there and in place as soon as you can without jumping the gun and doing it too fast. Sometimes it's better to let things evolve instead of force a situation.

Offensive line coach Mark Staten

On strengths in the offensive line...
We'll just keep letting them know. It's nice. Kodi (Kieler) has been able to move out to right tackle, which is his natural position. I said to Fou (Fonoti), `He's chomping at your heels, Fou. He's chomping at your heels.' He said, `That's great, Kodi. That's great.' So it's exciting.

On Coach Dantonio's progress over the past years...
He understands and he knows us as individuals. Then the addition of (Jim) Bollman, who he has coached with. This is the fourth time they've coached together and I want to say that the first time around, Bollman was the defensive coordinator and Dantonio was coaching DBs. He knows he gets what he asks for. That's exciting. He's still Mark Dantonio, he's still got his expectations, and he knows we're going to work hard to achieve those as a staff. All he says, as I was mentioning to Jim earlier, is that seniors leave a really good feeling. I know he feels good about the seniors.

We're always learning. That's the thing with him and there'll still be times that I might mess something up addressing a player, watching a film later, and come to a player and say that's my bad. He'll do the same thing. That just seems like anything, you grow in what you do. You grow as a father, a husband, a coach, a player, a reporter.

They (the players) feed off that. With us as his staff, being around him as long as we've been around him, we've seen that more than maybe you've seen. People see him as a very stoic, kind of on-edge, tight, and he's always had things, in my 12 years of being around him, it's never been a question. I think there is comfortableness in his own skin. I know there is. It's something I gained more of as his full-time offensive line coach.

Quarterbacks coach Brad Salem

On Andrew Maxwell's strengths...
I just think his presence and knowledge of the offense, decision making, he has the ability to get us in the right play or out of the wrong one. He's an accurate thrower with a strong arm. Every day, we're working with little things with footwork and quickness of the feet, being able to throw with your feet, we've been talking about that a lot. You have your body in position to get rid of the football quicker. Then, the little nuances of keeping compact, moving within the pocket, and knowing where to go. Trusting protection, but knowing if something breaks down or a blitz happens, understanding.

On Connor Cook's strengths...
I think Connor has the ability to move and create a little bit. He's still learning the offense. His thing, we really talked about communication. Each one of them wrote two things on the board in my office, here's the two things I need to get better at and they all got all kind of see, here's our focus for the summer.

Every year, you see such growth in a quarterback. There is so much to this position. So you look at Connor and just game experience and how valuable that was.

Mechanically, his feet, from spring ball to now, that stuff he's able to work on. The biggest thing as a football player, I don't care what position, once you get a guy out of thinking, you don't have time to think, you've just got to be able to react to a play, and just anticipate what's going to happen. I think he's moving in that direction. That's the goal for all of them and for me as I've coached these guys.

Wide receivers coach Terrence Samuel

On some of the abilities of the wide receivers...
They're doing well. Tres Barksdale understands the offense, making plays down the field. Macgarrett Kings has that ability to move around and make people miss in a short space. Like I said, I'm very happy with them. Macgarrett Kings is making his push. So it's been fun to watch him grow up and mature. He needed to do that during the summer. During the offseason, he's done what he's needed to do to put himself in a position to play more.

On the versatility of the group...
What they've done is learned the offense so they've got versatility in being able to play a lot of different positions. That's what's been key. You know, you're trying to get a lot of young kids to play. Learning the offense is not going to be easy when you're a pro-style offense. We throw a lot at them. Now, after having a summer to be with the quarterbacks and understand the rhythm, you see it, you see the confidence. This group lost confidence, but we're not worried about the offense anymore, we're not learning the offense.

On DeAnthony Arnett...
I don't see him having any problems. I don't see any lingering effects. He knows the offense. I can say it's not the offense. We're just going to go out there and make plays. That's what we talk about as a group. That's been our focus, to make more plays and be there when the team needs us, you know, produce.