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Player Analysis: Northwestern

Oct. 8, 2008

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Members of the Michigan State football team met with the media after Tuesday's practice to talk about this week's game at Northwestern. The No. 19 Spartans (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) and No. 22 Wildcats (5-0, 1-0) will meet Saturday at 3:45 p.m. at Ryan Field. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN2.

Player Interviews

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Senior Quarterback Brian Hoyer
On being a nationally ranked team...
I still think we have a lot to prove. You know it's great to be recognized a little bit nationally but really I don't think we've let it affect us at all. We're worried about Northwestern and they're a great team too. I know they're in one of the polls and they're 5-0 so we know we have a huge task at hand and we're not letting that affect us. We're just staying focused on this week and playing Northwestern, and everything else will fall into place after that.

On becoming more and more comfortable each week...
Each week in itself is a different kind of accomplishment. Two weeks ago at Indiana we were in a dog fight, just fighting back and forth and then last week winning a close game. That's something we couldn't do last year so hopefully that's just another step in our progress and we just have to keep taking those steps. We're just trying to focus one week at a time so Northwestern is our task right now. They're a great team and if anything we have a little extra motivation because they got us last year.

On having fun this season...
It's been fun. To win five games straight has been a joy but like I said, you can't worry about what's in the past. You have to worry about this week, this game and then just go every week and attack it that way.

Senior Safety Otis Wiley
On being nationally ranked...
It does feel good because our hard work has paid off, but we could easily drop out of there. So we are cherishing it and handling the success we have had this year. We have not been ranked since my freshman year in 2005, when we were 11th in the nation but then we lost to Michigan and basically went out of the rankings. It is easier said than done, so we have to go into each game with motivation and know that even though we are nationally ranked it doesn't mean a thing unless you get on that field and know someone is trying to beat you. Our coaches have addressed it, and the first question is how the team can handle the success. It is just motivation to never be complacent and always being humble, because we could easily drop from the rankings. We have worked so hard and have been trying to get back in the rankings since 2005, so this is definitely a good feeling and good for our program.

On the team's defensive progress...
Of course we have some good things going on, but we still have a long way to go. But we also have to correct the weakness we have as team going into this game. This has known to be a little bit of a rivalry because we have been battling back and forth with them. Two years ago we had a big comeback, so there is a lot of motivation not only on our side but Northwestern's side as well. I know it's going to be a great game.

On Northwestern's offense...
I know they are going to give us their best shot, and try to get us tired by running the ball and also passing it more than we have seen this year. We were able to handle that at Indiana, where being tired and fatigued played a huge factor. We have handled that during practice. We know we are targeted, and their offense is going to try and run around us and never quit, but we are geared up for it.

On the feeling of success...
It is an amazing feeling, and we are always focusing on getting that next win. We have not been 2-0 in the Big Ten for a long time, so it's uplifting for our program. Of course it's all about handling our success well, because you can easily get full of yourself.

Michigan State Junior Linebacker Adam Decker
On his comfort level...
It helps when a team's offense is like ours, because we get to see the power running game every day in practice. So against teams like Norte Dame and Iowa I felt more comfortable out there. But on the same point, the more snaps you get no matter what team you are playing against, the more comfortable you will feel. Northwestern is a complete 180 from what we saw last week, so I think the main thing is to see a lot of film and do as much as we can mentally to switch our mentality of trying to be physical to trying to use more finesse on defense.

On his extended playing time...
It can't hurt being out there for more of those third down plays like I was against Indiana. Hopefully that will help me out when I am in a similar situation in the future. But at the same point, some of those guys will probably be coming back soon and I know they want to get back out there. With the combination of all of us though I think we can really get the job done.



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