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Assistant Coaches Press Conference Coverage

Nov. 8, 2017

Game Notes | Depth Chart

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State assistant coaches Jim Bollman and Mark Snyder spoke to the media Wednesday afternoon, to review No. 13 MSU's win over No. 7 Penn State and preview this week's Big Ten East Division showdown at No. 11 Ohio State.

No. 13/16 Michigan State travels to No. 11/11 Ohio State on Saturday, Nov. 11 in a battle for first place in the Big Ten East Division. The game will be nationally televised on FOX beginning at noon. Both the Spartans and Buckeyes stand at 5-1 in the conference standings with three games left to play in the regular season. MSU improved to 7-2 overall with a thrilling 27-24 win over No. 7 Penn State last Saturday in Spartan Stadium, as Matt Coghlin hit a 34-yard field goal on the last play of regulation, while OSU lost its first Big Ten game with a 55-24 loss at Iowa.

Saturday's game is the 46th meeting between Michigan State and Ohio State and for the sixth time in the last eight matchups, both teams enter the contest ranked in the AP Top 25. The Buckeyes lead the all-time series 30-15, including a 14-9 record in games played in Columbus. Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio is 3-5 during his tenure against Ohio State (2-1 in Columbus) and 3-7 overall (0-2 at Cincinnati). The Spartans are looking for their third straight win in Ohio Stadium (won 10-7 in 2011 and 17-14 in 2015).

According to the NCAA, MSU has played the fifth-toughest schedule to date in the FBS (opposition with a 44-25 record; .638). The Spartans have played four teams currently ranked in the AP Top 25, including three wins (No. 16 Penn State, No. 21 Michigan, No. 25 Iowa).

 

 

The Spartans and Buckeyes have split the past six meetings. Michael Geiger hit a 41-yard field goal as time expired to give No. 9 Michigan State a 17-14 victory over No. 2 Ohio State in 2015 in Columbus en route to winning the Big Ten Championship, while also snapping the Buckeyes' 23-game winning streak. The Spartans held the Buckeyes to 132 yards of total offense in that game, the fewest ever by an Urban Meyer-coached team. In the 2013 Big Ten Championship Game, No. 10 MSU snapped No. 2 Ohio State's school-record 24-game winning streak with a 34-24 win as the Spartans clinched their first Rose Bowl berth in 26 years. MSU's three losses to Meyer-coached teams at Ohio State have been by a combined 14 points, including two games decided by 17-16 scores in East Lansing (2012 and 2016). Dantonio is one of only two coaches to defeat Ohio State twice under Meyer (Dabo Swinney, Clemson). The Spartans have defeated Ohio State 10 times when the Buckeyes entered the game ranked in the AP Top 25, including four times when the Buckeyes were either ranked No. 1 (1974, 1998) or No. 2 (2013, 2015).

A trademark of Mark Dantonio's Michigan State teams has been their ability to produce wins late in the season. Under Dantonio, Michigan State has compiled a 26-10 record (.722) in November. His teams have won 20 of the last 27 games in November (3-0 in 2010; 4-0 in 2011; 1-2 in 2012; 4-0 in 2013; 3-1 in 2014; 3-1 in 2015; 1-3 in 2016; 1-0 in 2017). During MSU's three Big Ten Championship seasons (2010, 2013, 2015) under Dantonio, MSU is 10-1 in November.

The following is a select transcript from Wednesday's press conference:

Co-Offensive Coordinator/Tight Ends Coach Jim Bollman

On Ohio State's defense...
They really have good personnel, as you would imagine. The defensive line is really mobile, really, really outstanding pass rushers and they have a lot of them. They play a lot of guys. At this point in the year there's not really experience factors anywhere, everybody's been playing. This is week number 10, so everybody's got their feet pretty wet. Pretty much everyone on their defense has been playing prior to this season, it's not like they're playing a bunch of freshmen or anything like that. Their guys are all pretty experienced. Up front guys, they certainly do put the pressure on people and cause people a lot of duress in the passing game.

On going back to Ohio State and seeing so many people he knows...
When you go back, you really don't have much time to do that though. Certainly there are some memories that you recall, going back in the stadium and playing there. It's fun to go there and play, and it's fun to go back and see my grandsons. That's another good reason for me to be going back to Columbus (laughing). It's a great place to play and it's a fun place for us to go to get go to. It's one of those games that when you're in the Big Ten, that you look forward to every year. There are a few of those and this is one of them so it's a fun week.

On the staff and Coach Dantonio putting last year in the past and turned around so quickly...
Wow you're asking me things that I hadn't given much thought to at all. We've just been working very hard as you can imagine since the end of last season, and that's not going to stop for a long time. It's just a matter of getting things back together, working hard. The guys really believe in each other, there's great comradery on the team. That's probably still the biggest reason why anything works in this game, how the people operate together. This is truly a team game and when there's 11 guys on the field, they all have to be on the same page. That's a big deal.

On why they don't see him dancing after wins...
Because never have, never will (laughing). Hey, I'm just here trying to make things work, trying to help out. I don't need to be jumping in no pile, that's good.

On players watching him and his calming influence on team, and having the role of being the `team grandpa'...
Again, you all shed light on things that have not crossed my mind in any degree. I don't need to be in the lime light of things, that's not a problem, never really have. It's fun, it's a real blessing to be here, to have this kind of job for all these years that I've had and work with all the people that I have. It's great to sit back and watch everybody when we have a little bit of success.

On Matt Sokol's play and plans to get Matt Dotson more reps...
I think Matt Dotson is getting to the point in the season, getting more and more experience now that he can play a little bit bigger role for us, I think. I'm not really concerned about Matt Sokol's situation in that regard with receptions. Sometimes I get concerned with Matt Sokol playing too much. I mean, he's a great contributor on special teams and that's a really vital role for us - what he has done, and had a couple big plays last week. Actually, I'd like to get him out there a little bit less so see if we can work on some of that.

On recruiting Ohio and the communication between staffs and the history of that communication...
Probably not as much as you might think. Certainly stayed in contact with Mark (Dantonio) regardless of recruiting or any of that situation. Mark's always done a great job, while he's been up here recruiting Ohio. We try to certainly keep doing the same right now. There's certain people in Ohio, just like any other state in the country, where they're homebodies and they're going to go to the home school if they can. Those are some of the decisions that you've got to make in your home state all the time, same way here. With a lot of us having Ohio ties though, we have a lot of ties as I said, we have some connections with coaches and have had for years and years - some of us our whole lives. It makes it a little bit easier going back in some of those areas. Having good communication with people, you can find out about people. It doesn't make it necessarily any easier to get guys, but you can find out about them.

On recruiting Joe Bachie and other players from Ohio and what his sales pitch was...
The sales pitch here is... with Coach Dantonio, it's pretty self-explanatory. When you come up here and get a chance to meet everyone around here and see what's going on. It's kind of a... you guys know what our program is like. It's a no-nonsense, you're going to work real hard, no box of chocolates, it's not a rosy situation. You're going to work really hard and earn your keep. A lot of guys appreciate that, that kind of approach. Joe was a guy that was an outstanding athlete, that's just a matter of going there and seeing it. Joe is one of those guys that was probably a really under-recruited guy. Not just by one or two places, but hardly anyone recruited him. That was one of the situations, it wasn't really hard to just go and find a guy like that, he had some unique things that he was doing athletically. There's been some other guys in those similar situations but that's one easy example that you bring up.

Defensive Ends/Special Teams Coach Mark Snyder

On Ohio State...
They're a very long, very athletic, very fast football team, especially offensively.

On J.T. Barrett's skill set and what he brings that's different than other quarterbacks the Spartans have faced this season...
Experience. He's been, it seems like he's been there forever, he's been there longer than I've been here. It shows on film. He's very comfortable in the offense. He's a game manager. He doesn't make a lot of mistakes. You can tell he's played a lot of football.

On being surprised by Barrett's play last week vs. Iowa...
You have those days sometimes. Everybody has them, but he's a good football player. He's a really good football player.

On if pressuring is a key against Barrett...
It is, but he has some athleticism, too, so there's a fine line there of how much do you rush him? He can create with his legs as well. That's what makes him a really good football player, plus all the other things we just talked about.

On recent success stopping the run and adjustments from earlier in the year...
It goes back to, looking at the quarterback we faced last week (Penn State's Trace McSorley), he can create with his legs, so you have to have a controlled rush. You can't just cut it loose, or they're going to hurt you. That was kind of the deal. We wanted to make sure that he didn't hurt us with his feet. When you go into a game type like that, it's going to be hard to get pressure. It is. Each game presents a different challenge or another opportunity and we go by it that way each week. Who are we playing? What are we playing? Can we cut it loose? Do we have to keep him in the pocket? Those kinds of things.

On the challenge being similar vs. Barrett...
Yes. He can throw it and run it. That's what makes him a really good football player.

On playing cerebral against RPO (run-pass option) quarterbacks...
Oh yeah, that's why I'm there, so that we can talk about those little things, those little idiosyncrasies that come with playing teams like that.

On Mufi Hill-Hunt's play...
He did okay. He came in and gave us a few reps. It was good to give some guys a break. He was excited to be back.

On if he will bounce between inside and outside...
No, he's going to stay with Ron (MSU defensive tackles coach Ron Burton). He's going to stay inside.

On special teams and coverage units' progress...
Yeah it was good. It was dangerous returning, and we face another one this week. As we talked last time, we have a bunch of young guys in there and they're getting older. They're not young guys anymore, and that helps.

On Matt Sokol and him playing special teams...
Matt's a good player. He enjoys it, and that's half the battle.

On if last game was best all-around game by special teams units with field goals, kickoffs and punt and kickoffs...
It probably was. Looking back, it probably wise.

On the pressure on the outside guys from players getting banged up...
Well, I don't know if it puts any added pressure on them. We've just got to play well, period. We can't make any mistakes.

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