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Player Quotes: Notre Dame

Sept. 19, 2017

Game Notes | Depth Chart

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State football players junior linebacker Byron Bullough, senior linebacker Chris Frey, junior linebacker Andrew Dowell, senior center Brian Allen and sophomore quarter Brian Lewerke spoke to the media Tuesday in the Izzo Family Media Center, previewing the Spartans' game against Notre Dame on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 8 p.m. in Spartan Stadium.

Fresh off a bye week, Michigan State (2-0) will play host to Notre Dame (2-1) in Spartan Stadium Saturday night in the battle for the Megaphone Trophy. The game will be televised nationally on FOX. The Spartans are 2-0 for the third consecutive year after opening the season with home wins over Bowling Green (35-10) and Western Michigan (28-14). The Fighting Irish improved to 2-1 with a 49-20 victory at Boston College last Saturday.

Below are quotes from the players that spoke to the media on Tuesday:

Junior linebacker Byron Bullough:

On being the last Bullough to play Notre Dame...

Yeah, last one. That's crazy to think about actually. I remember my brother Max's first game in 2010 as a true freshman against Notre Dame, so yeah that's pretty crazy to think about.

 

 

On how the Michigan State/Notre Dame rivalry is personal for the Bullough family...

I grew up watching Notre Dame on the TV and going to games. I vividly remember going to the bookstore actually with my grandparents and everyone before the games. That was kind of a little tradition, it's definitely special.

On how he feels toward Notre Dame...

Growing up I was definitely a Notre Dame fan, but once I decided to come here, it's now just another team. It's another team that Michigan State has to play, another team that Michigan State has to try to beat.

On remembering the first Notre Dame/Michigan State game he ever watched...

I really don't remember that far back, but I do remember the 2010 game here when my brother was a true freshman. That is a very fond memory.

On how he feels toward Notre Dame....

Notre Dame, I've always been a fan of them. That's a special place there. My grandpa was always showing me around, but like I said earlier, I'm Michigan State now so it's just another team MSU has to try to beat.

On stepping in for Joe Bachie...

It feels great. Every time that I can be on the field helping the team win that's great. Obviously Joe is a spectacular player and I want him out there because he just makes play after play. Whenever I get the chance to be out there making plays it's special.

On being named the team captain for the weekend...

It's my first time being a team captain; Notre Dame game, primetime game, under the lights, it's special. It'll be a very special moment. I just found out yesterday I was going to be a captain. What better game could you ask for? I'm very excited about it. It's definitely a dream come true.

On what sticks out on film about Notre Dame...

They're a dynamic team. They can run it, they can throw it. Their quarterback, Brandon Wimbush, he's special. Once he gets out in the open he can run a little bit so we have to defend both areas of running as well as the passing game.

On Connor Heyward being Wimbush in practice...

Connor, he's an exceptional athlete as well. He can do it on both sides of the field as well as on special teams. He's doing a great job replicating that.

On if this game is a statement game being it is the last time Michigan State and Notre Dame will meet for a while...

I definitely think it's a statement game. It's a rivalry game. It's at 8 p.m. under the lights. We have two wins. Two wins against MAC teams, but I think this is a game that will put Michigan State back in the spotlight if we come out with a win.

On being a young team and keeping the excitement level high for a night game...

I think we just have to come out with the same mindset that we've had the first two games and we'll be fine. We have to stay focused and stay in the moment. At the end of the day, no matter what team you're playing, it's still football so you have to go out there and make plays.

On if this game means a little more to him because of the Bullough family history...

I think it does (mean a little more), yeah. It's just been in my family. I've got posters of Notre Dame and Michigan State all around the house so it is extra, but at the end of the day we're just trying to go 3-0.

On what his brothers, dad and grandpa tell him about this game...

It's a rivalry game; it's up there with the Michigan game and things like that so you better bring your A-game. It's going to be physical game until the end so you better be ready for it.

Senior linebacker Chris Frey:

On Notre Dame's quarterback and how tough he is to defend...

We just need to focus on our keys; reading our keys and doing our jobs. We can't take one for one. What I mean by that is that you can't take on a blocker one-on-one. You can't just go one-on-one with that guy, you need to take two. You need to allow someone else to come open and make the tackle. They have their plays that they think can beat our defense and we just have to do what we do and take two and stop the plays. I think that we have the ability to do that. They have a few plays that we have really been working on with the double pullers, we call them trucks, so they're going to come out with those plays and we just have to be able to stop them and I think we can.

On if he's given any thought to this being the last game against Notre Dame in the foreseeable future...

No, honestly I didn't think about that at all. We're just trying to take it week by week, like I said it's a big game for us; it's a rivalry week and we're playing for the Megaphone. We want to keep that and we're going to do whatever we have to do to be able to keep that.

On if there is a specific moment that sticks out in this rivalry throughout his career...

Not really. It was just a huge win for us last year. We were excited coming out of that win. We just want to keep the ball rolling here this year, focus on this week, coming out with a win and taking it into next week.

On Notre Dame quaterback Brandon Wimbush's ability and being a dual-threat quarterback...

Like you said he's a dual-threat quarterback. Last week he showed what he can do running the ball which adds another aspect to their game and another ability for them on offense. It's something we really have to focus on. Like I said earlier he's a capture guy, not a kill guy. We've got to keep him in the pocket and get pressure on him, force him to our help rather than taking a shot and trying to wrap him up ourselves. He's a guy that can make plays and he is someone we really have to focus on stopping.

On if Notre Dame is personal to him...

Yes, it's very personal. It's a rivalry game and it's the last time we're going to be able to play them for a while. It's a trophy game, we're playing for a trophy and it's been personal for a long time and we're going to keep it that way.

On playing under the lights...

It's the first time that we've had our permanent lights up and playing under the lights. It's going to be a fun atmosphere, it always is at night games. You think about it all day, you have all day Saturday to think about it and when you get out there on the field, you're ready to go.

On the biggest area of growth during the bye week...

Just getting our bodies ready, honestly. We practiced twice last week and it was an opportunity for us to focus on ourselves, focus on getting ahead of what Notre Dame does, but at the same time focus on getting our bodies ready and getting ourselves ready for the rest of the season because we've got a long road ahead of us. We were able to get a head start on them a week early.

On the change of Notre Dame's offense...

I think DeShone Kizer last year was a pro-style quarterback but could get out and run when he needed to. (Brandon) Wimbush has a cannon, the dude can throw the ball far and he may not be as accurate as Kizer, but what he does a little bit better is he can get out and run. He has 140 yards rushing and three or four rushing touchdowns. That adds to their game and allows them to expand on what they do.

On how to defend against Wimbush...

Something we always say, depending on the quarterback we play, is he is either a capture or a kill quarterback? A guy that is not really a scrambler, a guy that is going to sit in the pocket and take as much time as he can get is a kill guy. A guy you can take a shot at and a guy that you can come in hot. With a capture guy, you've got to keep him in the pocket. You can't let him escape the pocket because if he does, he is dangerous. That's what we are talking about, those guys that are a capture guy, not a kill guy.

On whether Lewerke is a capture or kill guy...

He is a little bit of both honestly.

On Notre Dame's running game...

I think it's something we look forward to every single week. We pride ourselves constantly on stopping the run. Obviously you just said they are one of the best run offenses in the nation so it's going to be a big head-to-head battle and we're excited to take it on. They're a great run team, a great team overall, so we're just excited to show what we can do against a team like that; an offensive line like that, and a good running back.

Junior linebacker Andrew Dowell:

On the Spartan Defense...

The main focus of the Spartan defense is to stop the run. The linebacker position I play also features passing a little bit, so I have to look at both responsibilities on both sides of what is going on.

On what he took away from his first two performances...

Still have some things to build on, I look forward to playing in this nationally televised game. I'm just trying to stay focused.

On how it feels playing a night game at Spartan Stadium...

The whole atmosphere, the Spartan atmosphere, is just perfect in itself. You add a night game under the lights, a nationally televised game, a great opponent against Notre Dame. This is what people come to Michigan State for.

On past moments against Notre Dame...

Personally, just running out into their stadium last year and just seeing the whole place and taking it all in was electric.

On his views of the team now and moving forward...

That's something we build upon each week. We never try to be a defense or a team that pats ourselves on the back too much. We know the two teams that we just played and we have to take it up another level playing a team like Notre Dame as well as for the rest of our schedule.

On what he has learned about the team for the first two games...

We know we are a resilient defense. As a defense we can trust our offense, and we just have to continue to build on things.

On Wimbush...

He's a dual threat quarterback. That makes the preparation for them go up even more because they've got two options versus a guy who is just standing back there throwing it.

On the pressures of a big game...

I always like the pressure. There is a big opportunity against Notre Dame, under the lights, and the whole atmosphere will be electric. Personally, I know our entire defense and offense is ready for the game.

Senior center Brian Allen:

On the team's preparation for Notre Dame...

I would say we are a little tentative on some stuff, but last week against Western I think we played pretty physical and got after guys, and we knew were going to win that game from the start to the end. We were pushing away and it was physical football and it's good to see young guys doing that, too. As far as going into Notre Dame, we are going to have to match that and take it another step. I'm excited to see how we do against them. It's a new test and hopefully our best is enough.

On Michigan State's offense...

We have had two weeks with a lot of turnovers, mistakes and stuff like that, but we have always responded. It's good to see guys pick each other up and we support each other when things go wrong. I think it is good to see that every time something has gone wrong, we have turned it into something positive and hopefully we clean those things up.

On playing a tough team...

It's just a good challenge to have, a lot of safety blitzes and stuff like that. For me as a competitor, it's kind of something that you like and something to be excited about. Just playing Notre Dame, it doesn't really matter what they're bringing. It's an opportunity for us to try to beat them so that's kind of something we are excited or.

On how the bye week went...

It was good. We rested up and healed up the little nicks we had from the first two games. We practiced twice last week in full pads so we got a jump start on Notre Dame; we've been watching film on them for a week already so we feel pretty good on knowing what they do.

On why the Notre Dame game is personal to him...

Being from the Chicagoland area I think people are either Illinois or Northwestern fans, but it's really more of a Notre Dame territory there. Growing up everyone goes to Notre Dame games and getting out of there, traffic is horrible because that's where all of their fans are from for the most part. I've been around those fans for a while and it's kind of a game that I'm always excited for.

On this being a huge game for Michigan State...

All of the history, my first game here in Spartan Stadium was actually the Little Giants game -- Sept. 18, 2010 -- so seven years ago yesterday. I was on the sidelines for the pre-game and then in the stands for the touchdown. It was pretty cool. That was my first real college football experience, so just being there for that and seeing that ending was pretty sweet. Back then this is where the old lockerroom was and the trailer so it was pretty cool being in there and watching those guys celebrate. Some of the great Spartans like Greg Jones and Max Bullough, having those guys in there and being able to see that as a 14-year-old kid was pretty amazing.

On if he was a fan for the Little Giants game...

I was a Michigan State fan because at that point my brother had decided he was coming here, but before that I didn't really know much about Michigan State. That was my first opportunity to really get to see it so it was pretty impactful.

On being a senior and this being the final time playing Notre Dame...

Even last year, that's going to be a highlight that sticks out forever. Going down to Notre Dame and beating those guys there was a really special thing. Just getting an opportunity to play them and play there. It's a game that you dream about as a little kid, growing up and getting to play Notre Dame.

On if this game is bigger than the previous two games this season...

The two teams that we played before are both good teams, but this is obviously a step up in competition. It's just something that we are getting more excited for getting a chance to play them.

Sophomore quarterback Brian Lewerke:

On beating people with his arm downfield...

I think that's the next step. That's kind of something that I've realized along with everyone else, is that it's something that I need to be able to do if we want to start beating good teams like Notre Dame.

On if it feels like this is the first big game of the season...

Yeah it definitely does. This is probably going to be the best team that we've faced so far, so a win here on Saturday would definitely be a step in the right direction for sure.

On if he's surprised with how well the group of wide receivers have done this season...

I wouldn't say surprised, I saw it in the spring, I saw it in fall camp; they were ballin' out and they were doing the right things. It's been very good to see it translate into football games against real teams who have solid defenses.

On playing night football...

I like it very much. You get a lot of people out there; you're under the lights and it's just a different feel.

On how he'll prepare for the game Saturday with it being a night game...

You get a little later wakeup call, you get to sleep in a little longer. I'll watch College GameDay in the morning and probably watch a little more film as the day goes on and just try to get ready for the game later.

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