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Player Quotes: Senior Day vs. Maryland

Nov. 14, 2017

Game Notes | Depth Chart

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Several Michigan State players met with the media on Monday to preview this Saturday's MSU Senior Day game against Maryland.

No. 22/24 Michigan State hosts Maryland on Senior Day Saturday, Nov. 18 at 4 p.m. in Spartan Stadium. The Spartans (7-3, 5-2 Big Ten), tied for second in the Big Ten East Division standings, are looking to rebound from last week’s loss at Ohio State, while the Terrapins (4-6, 2-5) remain in the hunt for a second straight bowl bid despite falling to Michigan at home last week, 35-10.

Saturday’s game marks the ninth meeting between Michigan State and Maryland. The Spartans lead the overall series, 6-2, including a 4-1 record in East Lansing. The Spartans are 2-1 against the Terrapins since Maryland joined the Big Ten in 2014. After winning the first two Big Ten games against Maryland in 2014 and 2015, the Spartans fell to the Terrapins in College Park last season, 28-17. In the first-ever matchup between the two schools, Michigan State shut out Maryland in College Park, 8-0, on Oct. 20, 1944.

According to the NCAA, MSU has played the third-toughest schedule to date in the FBS (opposition with a 57-30 record; .655). The Spartans have played four teams currently ranked in the AP Top 25, including two wins (No. 13 Penn State, No. 19 Michigan).

Michigan State will recognize 15 players in a pregame ceremony on Senior Day: C Brian Allen (Hinsdale, Ill.), DE Demetrius Cooper (Chicago, Ill.), OT Dennis Finley (Detroit, Mich.), LB Chris Frey (Upper Arlington, Ohio), LB Sean Harrington (Commerce Township, Mich.), RB Gerald Holmes (Flint, Mich.), LB Shane Jones (Cincinnati, Ohio), TE Hussien Kadry (Dearborn, Mich.), WR Brock Makaric (Saginaw, Mich.), OL Nick Padla (Berrien Springs, Mich.), FB Joe Palange (Cleveland, Ohio), PK Brett Scanlon (Dowagiac, Mich.), OG Jeremy Schram (White Lake, Mich.), OG Casey Schreiner (Bethel Park, Pa.) and QB Damion Terry (Erie, Pa.).

 

 

The 2017 Senior Class has helped Michigan State to a 33-16 record since 2014, including two bowl berths (2015 Cotton Bowl, 2015 College Football Playoff Semifinal at Cotton Bowl) and one Big Ten Championship (2015). The 33 wins rank tied for seventh most by a senior class in school history.

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

Senior running back Gerald Holmes:

On the seniors turning things around before leaving this program…
It was a big deal. The main thing is that we wanted to establish leadership, true leadership, and kind of create a family atmosphere. I feel like last year we kind of lost that a little bit. I feel like over the summer we built that obviously through the workouts, but just kind of just talking and the team building so I feel like that played a big difference in the turnaround. You’ve got to be able to trust guys and talk to people on your team that you battle with.

On the most valuable thing he learned about being a Spartan during his time here at Michigan State University…
I learned toughness. And not just physical toughness, but learning how to go through things. From my personal career, you know the ups and downs and just being here when we’re winning and then losing and then turning it around. Being a Spartan is about toughness. The coaches show that and the teams that I’ve been a part of and the players we recruit, so I definitely learned toughness on a great scale.

On moving on from Saturday’s loss and wiping away the sting from it with two wins…
Definitely. That happened but that’s quickly in the past. Once it happened, you know three hours on the plane or coming back home on the bus or driving to your apartment, it’s some final thoughts and then the next morning it’s on for a whole new day. Coming into this week we want to just have a good game, come out there and ball and just have fun. That’s the main thing with any sports you play is that you have to continue to have fun. We’re young and it’s not forever, so if you have fun good things come out of it.

Senior center Brian Allen:

On team rebounding and bouncing back this year…
Just getting back to who we are. Working hard, being humble I think is the biggest thing I think that guys got away from or certain areas we got away from. Once we got back to that everyone kind of re-bought into that. I really think that’s the biggest thing; working hard, loving each other, trusting each other and just coming together.

On his message to the young offensive line after Saturday’s game…
Just learn from it. It wasn’t pretty by anyone really on Saturday. Just let them know that you’re going to have bad games, that stuff’s going to happen. I've been there and struggled with teams like that when I was young and just let them know that stuff happens. It’s happened to me, it’s happened to guys like Jack Conklin. Everyone’s been through that where you’ve struggled. Just learn from it, get better and keep trying to level up. I said it on Saturday, you can’t practice for guys like that, you don’t see guys like that all that often so now if they know what it’s like, they know what to expect a little bit more and just be more ready the next time a challenge like that comes this way.

On wanting to get right back out there or take some time preparing after last Saturday’s game…
We’ll be kind of angry until then and hopefully we come out and play a lot better on Saturday.

On still being angry after a loss a week later…
Yeah for sure. It’s just kind of a bad taste in your mouth, just doesn’t feel right, doesn’t sit right around here. I can tell you the whole attitude of the building, we’re just hungry to get back out there.

On the team’s overall goal now…
Again, just take it week by week. We want to win this week obviously and take it week by week. Obviously finish out; 9-3 is obviously the goal but at the same time just focus on Maryland right now and get through those guys.

On the pride of the senior class on the comeback this season…
Everyone says you’re remembered for what you do your senior year and I think that’s something that we’ll remember, just coming off last year and the struggles we had. Being able to really just come together and have a fun year, it’s been fun, other than a couple bumps along the way but we really have had fun this year. The season’s not over and we’re just excited to make more memories. Not that it’s about my senior year or anything, we just want to win on Saturday, get this taste out of our mouth and play football again; Just have the opportunity to do it at home one more time is something to look forward to.

Senior linebacker Chris Frey:

On the leadership of this team…
We were excited to set the leadership on this team from the beginning and get ready to turn it around and get back to where Spartan football is supposed to be. I think we did a really good job of that.

On things that were important for him to do to lead the team…
Just bring everybody together. I feel like we were divided last year a little bit, but from the start of this offseason throughout the entire year I think we’ve done a very good job as a senior class and as a leadership council to bring this team together as one. That was the main focus and I think we did a very good job of that this offseason and continued into this season.

On if going 9-3 and getting a New Year’s Day bowl game has become the focus…
Yeah, I think Coach D (Dantonio) said today in meetings that there’s only been seven other Michigan State teams in the history of Michigan State to have 10 wins in a season. If we finish out with three wins that makes us number eight. That’s a huge deal especially for a team that won three games last year.

On being a senior playing his last game in Spartan Stadium…
My whole career has just flown by. You try and take it day by day and week by week and the next thing you know the season’s over. Last year we won three games and you’re sitting there the day after the Penn State game, could’ve been in the Big Ten Championship, playing for the Big Ten Championship and the next week could’ve been playing in a bowl game, and instead your season’s done and you’re waking up at 6 a.m. on that Monday morning and looking forward to the next season and I think, you’re five, six, seven months away.

On coming back from last year’s season…
A lot of teams, a lot of people didn’t expect us to win four or five games this year. We’re sitting here with seven wins and we can win ten games this season. We took that personally. We’ve been a team that’s always been doubted, we’ve always had our doubters and we always have that chip on our shoulder because of that. With the doubt that we had, it fueled us to be the team that we are and we’ve taken that every single day to heart and pushed through a ton of adversity, pushed through everything that went on this offseason, the last season. Guys have stepped up into major roles on this team and we’re here now.

On finishing the job as a captain…
We’re excited for where we’re at right now, but we’re not done and we’re just going to keep pushing every single day to be better.

On the goal for the rest of the season…
We’re not playing for a Big Ten Championship but we still have a lot to play for. We’re going to a bowl game, we have two games left. There’s been seven other teams in Michigan State history to win 10 games and we have that opportunity. We’re going to take this one week at a time and do our best every single day to win that day and quite frankly, go 1-0 every week and have that opportunity in the end to win 10 games and be the ninth team.

On the senior class…
It’s not about me, it’s about the senior class. Everybody on this team is going to play for the seniors. We want to be a senior class that is putting a banner up on the wall for a bowl win, that’s going to be our goal for the rest of the season.

On his favorite memory here…
There’s been so many. I’d have to say the 2015 Big Ten Championship probably is my favorite, my best memory here. That whole season was just unbelievable. To be able to win a Big Ten Championship and go to the playoff, be the first Michigan State team to go to the playoff was just huge for us.

On the future of this team…
It’s extremely bright. I’m really excited for Michigan State after I leave and to be able to watch the guys that I played with grow and get better every single day because we have a lot of great players on this team and they’re just going to continue to get better every single day. We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores that are playing now that, three, four years down the line are going to be great players.

On if he’s met his goals over his career here…
I met a lot of them, of course. My main goal was to be able to become a starter here and I was able to do that. I’m extremely proud to be a Spartan, I'm blessed. I’ve loved every second that I’ve spent here and I’m really excited to finish out the season and be a Spartan for the rest of my life.

Sophomore quarterback Brian Lewerke:

On the mindset going into Maryland…
I think it’s pretty good. One thing about having a young team is guys are energetic, they’re focused, they’re ready to just kind of… they have short-term memories, ready to get focused on what we still have to accomplish for the rest of the season here.

On takeaways from last year’s game against Maryland…
I think the improvement I’ve made since last year when I played them has been a big jump. Obviously I’m going to go back, watch that game from last year and try to realize and see what I did then, what worked, what didn’t work, all those types of thing.

On what he learned from senior Damion (Terry) over the years…
He was a speed guy. He was a guy that was fast. I was able to learn how to make reads. I feel like our playing style is similar just with our running abilities. That’s kind of something I was able to learn.

On the lessons from last week’s game…
We were fully confident, we weren’t dismayed or intimidated, I guess, by them going into the game at all. They showed us kind of what it takes to be able to win those big games and who we have to be able to beat the next couple of years. We've just got to focus on stepping up and performing to that sort of level.

On the value of learning from that game for future…
I’ll definitely have that game circled on my schedule for next year and just remembering how that game felt. You got to realize that that’s not the standard around here and that’s not how we want to play.

On improvement in his development that needs to be worked on…
That was something I noticed too. Just being a quarterback, nothing’s ever going to be perfect. What makes a good quarterback is being able to perform when things aren’t perfect, when things aren’t going well and maybe your receivers are getting bumped off the line, your o-line’s, and you got to get the ball out quick. Becoming a great quarterback is realizing that you got to kind of adjust your game, maybe throw more one-on-one jump ball, back shoulder type throws, just being more accurate in that sense.

On playing the last home game for the seniors…
We've got a little bit of pressure to send them out with a win, but they’re a great senior class that I’ve looked up to. I definitely want to be able to give them a win in Spartan Stadium one last time.

On what he’s learned from the senior class…
Individuals, Brian (Allen) and Damion (Terry) have been big for me. Brian being the center and you have a relationship with him that you don’t have with most people. Damion being a quarterback, I’ve been able to relate to him and make jokes, crack jokes with him and just have fun with him.

Junior safety Khari Willis:

On watching the Ohio State film…
Yeah personally I watched the whole game. It’s not something we can skip over, we’ve got to learn what we can learn from the film and then move on and that’s what we’ve done. We’ve got to wake up the next day and we’ve got to play Maryland, we’ve got to play Rutgers. The things that we wanted a week ago maybe aren’t in front of us, but there’s still a lot of great things that we can accomplish as a team.

On bouncing back after the loss…
We moved on, our coaches studied up. They did what they do and they did a great job of just getting us familiarized on Monday so we can just hit it with a full head of steam tomorrow (Tuesday) coming out with a much tougher practice on Tuesday and Wednesday. We’re going to roll, we’ve got to play Maryland. Like I said, we’re game planning for Maryland. Ohio State is over, that’s down the road so we’re moving on.

On how MSU matches up against Maryland…
I feel we match up pretty well. They like to run it and they like to sling it around a little bit with some run-pass-option things and we’re going to look to try to defend it as best as we can.

On if last year’s loss to Maryland gives them any extra incentive…
Absolutely. Last year’s loss to Maryland that was kind of one of the tougher losses for us as a group last year. Obviously a lot of us are back so we still feel some type of way about that loss. I feel that maybe, hopefully, we can channel that positively come Saturday.

On what it is like to be playing for the seniors in their last home game…
It means everything. It means that I’m able to be a part of another special senior class that’s won here, that’s had successful careers. Maybe guys that will possibly continue their careers on at the next level. It’s been a great ride. I’m going to continue to lay it all on the line for them because, I’m scarily, very scarily, going to be in their position next year.

On what he’s learned from the senior class…
I’ve learned how to bounce back and take control of the team. When things were kind of going out of control for us last year – just going through a lot with the media and going through a lot in our play – not playing as well as we had the talent to play. These seniors just really took the team by the neck and got us straightened out and helped us to grow. I take that the best from our seniors, just going through adversity and bouncing back and having a pretty good senior year.

On what he will remember the most about this senior class…
My moments about these seniors are going to come off the field. These guys are just incredible, fun to be around. In the locker room whether it’s hearing Gerald (Holmes) talk for 45 minutes or an hour or hearing Chris (Frey) just saying some ridiculous things that are just hilariously funny or Coop (Demetrius Cooper), wrestling around with Coop and joking with him about his bad knees on the basketball court. It’s just all fun. I remember the fun stuff off the field and obviously the football memories that we’ve made. I feel like we have a few more to make.

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