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Player Quotes: Michigan Week

Oct. 3, 2017

Game Notes | Depth Chart | Coach Dantonio Press Conference Coverage

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Several Michigan State players met with the media on Tuesday to preview this Saturday's game at No. 7 Michigan.

Below are quotes from the media roundtable.

Sophomore linebacker Joe Bachie

On keeping the turnover momentum from the game against Iowa...
We needed those couple fumbles that we had. We just have to build. Hopefully, they start going together and snowballing a bit. If we can create turnovers, if you look at the stats you know Coach [Dantonio] is always telling us that turnovers are going to win games, and we need to be better in the turnover margin.

On whether this week feels different...
The energy out there feels a little different, because we know what it means. The coaches know what it means. Coach [Dantonio] is a little bit more on edge. We're going to prepare the same way, but we know what it is in the back of our head. We know what game this is.

On the team's preparation for Michigan...
Monday was our walk-through day, so we went out there and just mentally made our calls and checks. We talked earlier in the day and we talked about stopping the run so that's one of our main focus points.

On setting the tempo and being a force early in the game...
Our number one goal every week is for the defense to stop the run, so that's never going to change -- won't change all year. We're going to come into this game and if we can stop the run, we believe that's the best chance we've got; if either team stops the run, we like to be physical, they like to be physical. We just have to control that line of scrimmage.

Senior linebacker Chris Frey

On the younger players going into rivalry week...
They'll feel the intensity this week during practice. They'll figure it out really quick. Guys have a different mentality going into practice. The enthusiasm kicks up 10 times more. There's not much that needs to be said to the younger guys, because they're going to get that feeling really quick, especially today during practice. If they don't know that feeling, then in the first hit they're like "Okay, it's Michigan week. They're coming a little bit harder than they have before." Obviously, you tell them it's Michigan week. You've got to step your game up. Things are going to be said and things are going to be done. You've just got to keep your cool and keep playing.

 

 

On the rivalry...
A lot of them (the team) grew up Michigan State fans, and if you weren't, then you get that feeling really quick from the first day of practice; from the first hit you get on that Tuesday practice. There's not really much that needs to be said, but you'll find out quick if you don't understand that rivalry.

On how the physicality of this game fits the Spartans' game-play...
We're a physical team, a physical defense, and we say all the time, `pound green, pound'. They're going to come out and I think that in the past, even if we have been struggling with the run game or struggling with certain things, when you get to this game you step your game up. You play at a higher level, you play your best because you know it's going to take everything you have to win this game.

On Joe Bachie's play this year...
Joe has made plays since the day he got here. He picked up on our defense so fast and I've got so much respect for him. I feel like guys on the field are more comfortable when he's out there because he knows what he's doing. He's going to take every run through he gets, and he's making the calls out there and for how young he is...I think a lot of times people forget how young he is because of how well he's playing. He's a guy that played 100 snaps last year, maybe, on defense and he didn't really get much recognition, but you know he has come into this season and has shown people that he can play. He's going to be a great player for us both now and in the future.

On how the young defensive players are playing at a high, more mature level...
It shows guys that just because you're young doesn't mean that you get the excuse to make a mistake. You don't get to have the coaches say, `oh, that's all right because you're young,' because Joe (Bachie) is young but he's doing it right. That's what we tell the guys, once you play a certain amount of snaps here, you're no longer a young guy, you're a veteran. I don't care if you're a freshman, and you've played 200 snaps in the first four games of the season, you're no longer a freshman anymore, you're a veteran on this team.

Sophomore quarterback Brian Lewerke

On whether the playing time vs. Michigan last year helps this year...
Yeah, a little bit. Being able to play, even for the little bit that I did helps a lot. That was probably where I felt most comfortable in the game, and where I felt that I hit the learning curve.

On Michigan's defensive line...
They trust their DB's to make plays. They like to stack the box which has been a common theme that teams have done with us this year. We're going to have to get a push up front when they play us for the passing game.

On his confidence in Coach Dantonio...
I think he's a very smart coach, obviously, so he knows what he is talking about. He knows how to play these guys. I'm definitely going into this game with a lot of confidence and trust in him.

On the Michigan v. Michigan State game last year...
Last year when I was playing in that game, that was when I felt the most comfortable. That's when I started fitting in and feeling comfortable with our offense. I was disappointed in not being able to finish the game, but I'm looking forward to this one.

Junior tight end Matt Sokol

On playing Michigan...
Each week the last couple of years I've been here and every time Michigan week comes along, it's something different around here. It's a great experience. There's so much passion and energy and intensity into this game. It's a week that we all look forward to every season. The first two years I've had great experiences in it. Last year, it was a tough game that we didn't come out with the win. I'm really excited for our team this year and for the opportunity to play those guys under the lights.

On playing one of the best defenses...
They're a very physical, flying-around defense and, watching film on them, there are some really aggressive guys playing hard. It definitely will be a challenge for us. It's a different defense than we saw last week so we're going to have to step up to the plate and we're going to have to execute as an offense and be fundamentally sound in what we're trying to do and accomplish. That will be an important factor in this game.

On what he tells the younger players, especially this game being at night and first road game...
It's kind of hard to prepare a true freshman that hasn't been on the road and hasn't played Michigan, so it's hard to prepare them for the experience of what that will really be like on the field. Once they step in that stadium and once they are in Ann Arbor and feel what this game is like, I'm sure they will understand. Throughout the week, we'll do things to prepare guys as much as we can, make practice loud and demand a much higher standard in practice in how we're going to go about preparing for these guys.

On what he recalls from the 2015 game...
That was such an incredible experience for me being from Michigan and my first time being there. I just remember walking in there and fans yelling at you like no other stadium. At every other away game, fans don't really yell at you on the field, calling you out by your name like they do there. That was a crazy experience. That entire atmosphere and experience was something I'll never forget. Obviously, the outcome of the game was a dream come true.

On how this game is different than any other game...
Yeah, this is definitely a different feeling. This is a week that we look forward to every year. The atmosphere of this game is just something that is hard to put into words. If you haven't ever really experienced it in person, it's something really special and something we look forward to every season.

On how everybody says it's not `just another game'...
No, you can't just say it's another game. This is what coming to Michigan State and being a player here is all about. You come here to play these guys and it's a game that is just something very special, especially being a guy who is from Michigan, and for our whole team. This is just a very unique experience, a very unique game, there's something special about it.

On watching this game as a kid...
Yeah, I watched this game as a kid, I remember the 2011 season with the combat uniforms here, that one stuck out to me a lot, that was probably my favorite one watching growing up.

Junior safety Khari Willis

On preparing the younger players this week...
We just try to make sure that everybody knows their job, what we're here for and what we're doing defensively, offensively and on special teams. In every aspect of the game, we just try to make sure everybody knows what they're doing. You let them grow up in that environment and make them enjoy the moment. Don't put anything past them and don't put too much on them. Let them go out there and grow.

On the opportunity to continue moving in the right direction...
I feel like we have been taking steps in the right direction. There are a lot of high moments going on from within us, within our locker room regardless of what everybody sees. We are looking to display that, like we've been trying to do all year. This game it should be no different.

On Michigan's quarterback situation...
They do what they do regardless of who is in there. They may have a few things different here and there, but we're just going to prepare for whoever they put in there. Hopefully, we'll be ready.

On the offensive comparison with Michigan...
They have a young team and we have a young team. They have some guys, but we have some guys too. It's just a matter of who wants it more.

On the past two games in the series with Michigan...
Both teams were able to make some plays. They got loose on us on special teams a couple times. Other than that, we competed very well. Both teams did and that's what I expect. It happened last year. We competed as well, but we just came up short. We did what we were supposed to do. We put ourselves in a position to win. This year I expect to be no different. Obviously, this year I'm a little older and it means a lot more.

Senior center Brian Allen

On the rivalry against Michigan...
It's a huge game; something we obviously look forward to all year. It's just something exciting and it's different than any other game we will play in. Anytime you can beat those guys, good things happen around here. Everyone is happier and everything is genuinely better, so playing these guys means a lot to us.

On Lewerke playing Michigan...
You know like I said, people really don't know what it's like to play in this game until you've played in it. He's gotten the chance to play in it, so he knows what's going to happen and the physicality of the game. The environment will be better him having had played in that game last year.

On what the win against Michigan would mean...
It's not really anything we are thinking about. We just want to beat Michigan and that's what it kind of comes down to, not what they're ranked; I couldn't even tell you what they are ranked to be honest. We just want to play Michigan and beat them, so that's really all it is.

On the challenges Michigan's front presents...
They do a lot of stuff. They have a lot of blitzes and move a lot of pieces around. You've really got to know your rules and be committed to those if you want to block the right guy and be in the right place.

On how this game judges how good they are as a team...
Every week the stakes are higher and usually we play Michigan in the seventh or eighth week of the year. It's kind of weird having them this early in the season, but it's a huge game. I think it will let us learn a lot about ourselves, you know, coming out Saturday night and seeing what we can do.

On what sticks out about Michigan on film...
There are a lot of big athletic guys and a lot of guys that fly around the ball. They play with great energy and it's going to be a big task for us on Saturday to match that, and hopefully out-physical them and do all of the stuff we need to do to win.

On if it matters to a lineman where the running backs line up...
The RPO's, the ways those work, if the ball is handed off, there shouldn't be a linebacker in that area, or they should be running downhill regardless. If they pull it, there should be a bubble in the field or there should be a receiver open. I don't really think it makes a difference as far as getting downhill and stuff like that, because if the ball is handed off, we should have an advantage in that area. We should have one less guy in that area.

On what it's like to play against Michigan and how he prepares the younger guys for the game...
I would just say it's not something you really understand until you play in the game. Everyone can say it's this big game and there's all this build up and hype around it, but until you really play in the game and feel the competitive dislike for the other team, and you feel that from them to you, you don't really know.

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