Dec. 20, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State held its Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl Media Day on Thursday in the Clara Bell Smith Center Auditorium. MSU offensive coordinator Dan Roushar, junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell and junior running back Le'Veon Bell talked about facing TCU on Dec. 29 in Tempe, Ariz.
Michigan State offensive coordinator Dan Roushar
Q. What have you seen from TCU?
Dan Roushar: As you watch them and you kind of start looking at them, I think they've got a lot of similarities to Ohio State in regards to their front four. They're very movement driven, a lot of slanting and angling, and when they're reading they move awfully well. So you see a lot of similarities there.
Their defensive ends are both very, very good. Stansly (Maponga), No. 90, you know, you watch game film against their opponents, he gets an awful lot of help. People get help to him with chips and those kind of things. So his numbers aren't quite as strong as Fields', but I think their defensive ends are going to be as good as we've played against, so it'll be a great challenge that way.
When you start looking at power football, the Big 12, you don't see a lot of it. You've got to look through a lot of games, but probably the first one you look at is Kansas State, and they did an awfully good job against Kansas State and holding them to I think it was about 120 yards rushing. They got a couple good big plays down the field and some play action stuff and beat them on a couple double moves.
But I think they're an awfully good defense. They remind me a lot of our defense in many ways, just with their activity, their ability to run to the football and get off blocks and make plays.
Q. What was it like this last week to have the quarterbacks live and how has Andrew responded to that?
Dan Roushar: I think the guys have actually embraced it. They had an opportunity to run the ball a little bit, and I think for everybody, including the quarterbacks, I think it's made us a little bit more game ready. We took quite a bit of time off, and it very quickly got everybody's attention. I think the tempo got picked up, and I think the quarterbacks did a nice job of handling contact. We took care of the football, and in some cases we made some positive yards with some of those guys running it. So you saw some really good things from all of them.
Q. Whether it's real or perceived, there seems to be a perception that the offense needed some fixing. If that's true, is any of that done in preparation for the bowl game or is that an off season question?
Dan Roushar: That's a great question. Certainly we're trying to be more efficient in the red zone, scoring points. That's probably an area as you look over the year we've certainly not been very good there. Some of it I think is going to happen as guys get a little bit more mature. I think that certainly will help create some explosive plays.
But you know, those things we've tried to work on in the limited practices we've had. We've worked down in there and we've had some good production.
At the end of the day I think it comes back to us being able to put together a scheme that gives our guys a chance, and then we've just got to execute at a higher level. You know, I think that some of the things that we've done this bowl preparation I think certainly you can see into the future, and I think that'll give us a dynamic right now that we have not had.
Q. Are you guys looking at putting any quarterback designed runs in for the bowl game, or is that something more for the spring?
Dan Roushar: I think Coach (Dantonio) mentioned that, and we certainly have done some things with that thought in mind. Whether we're good enough right now to go execute on a high level in a game like situation, I think that'll be determined by how we continue to practice down in Arizona.
But the guys, we've experimented with some things, and you're looking at a couple of our young quarterbacks and feeling like all of a sudden there's another dimension with us being able to spread the field, make them play coverage, and then add the element of being able to run the quarterback.
You know, those plays have been designed. We've repped them through this bowl preparation. Whether we carry them into the game or not, I think that's something we've still got to talk about as a staff and make a decision into game week.
Q. The perception of Andrew Maxwell late in the year is he wasn't playing as well as he did earlier mid part of the year. What was your evaluation of him at the end of the year, and what have you figured out and tried to do with him in the last few weeks?
Dan Roushar: I think with the culmination of the season, we went back through and tried to identify the things that we did well consistently throughout the year, and as we've set the game plan, try to take that into account, rather than creating new designs and getting further away from what we've done, see if we can put a premium on execution.
I think Andrew, like a lot of us, would probably say that he had some performances that we thought were very, very good, and then he had some that weren't nearly what we wanted or what he wanted. But I think he's remained very positive. I've watched him in these practices. He's working very hard with his fundamentals, and we're hoping that he continues to do nothing but improve with the competition that's around him at the quarterback position.
You know, at the end of the day, the thing that...even going back to the last game, I thought he did a tremendous job of getting us to a win. He did a lot of good things with run checks that go unnoticed. He didn't throw the ball as effectively as he would have liked, but he played with a pretty significant injury that game, and you've got to take your hat off to a guy that's going to fight and compete like he did. He continues to be our quarterback, and we want him to continue to improve for us to have an opportunity to get better.
Q. You mentioned their defensive ends. Against a team like TCU can you stay in the pocket a lot or is that more of an in game adjustment?
Dan Roushar: No, you go in with an idea that I think you've got to change the launch point a little bit. If this becomes a one dimensional game, and if we're sitting in the pocket 60, 70 percent of the time, I don't think that plays into our favor. We're going to have to move the pocket. We're going to have to have success on early downs to put us in situations where we can move the pocket effectively. But those certainly are things that we've talked a lot about as we've prepared for these guys.
Dan Roushar: I think those conversations begin with Coach Dantonio. There's a process for these guys to go through, and I think in both cases I think those guys will certainly go through the process of exploring where they may fit if they were to enter the NFL Draft. We've had conversation.
I think in those conversations really what you talk about is what's in the best interest for them, and you look at it from a perspective of your experiences of being around guys that have gone early and others that have waited. And then I think you just put some value on what's important for them and their families, and at the end of the day I think they'll gather all that information and they'll make great decisions that are best for them. Certainly they've got a high regard for this organization and the guys that they're playing with right now, so I'm sure all those things will factor in as they make that decision.
Q. What's TyQuan Hammock's future? Is it at fullback? Is he going to stay there?
Dan Roushar: As soon as the season ended and we began our bowl preparation, we moved him over with the opportunity to get back in there. A couple of years ago we played him in at the fullback position. Just looking at him right now with the depth of our linebackers, the reality is for him to get on the field and make a strong contribution, I think Coach Dantonio and the staff felt like this would be a very good move for him and we had some opportunities to get a little bit of work for him.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
Junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell
On practicing as a live quarterback...
It's been good work and it's necessary work too. I think that's one of the things that I maybe wasn't as ready for as I could have been going into the season, was just really having a good feel for how much time you have back in the pocket. In practice when you get sacked, it's really just a tag off on the hip but to really have the pressure, to have the pocket coming in on you and have being hit be a reality that's good work for me and that's especially good work for these young guys who haven't that game experience.
On being hit in practice...
Really not that many because the o-line did a good job protecting me in the team periods. So the team periods I was staying off my back really good so really not as many as you would think.
On getting focused again after the break...
I really feel like every practice that we came out, we really built off the one we had the day before and every practice has been better than the last one. I really feel like we're hitting our stride now so these next couple days will be good to get our rest back, get our legs back, and go down to Arizona for the game.
On having a winning season...
It gives us that momentum going into the offseason. We were just talking about it the other day is that we lived off that Outback Bowl win for eight or nine months going into the opener against Boise. So our season is really sitting on that fulcrum right now at six and six. A win can push us into good momentum and a loss can put us behind going into the offseason. You'd certainly like to have that momentum and carry it into the offseason.
On the TCU defense...
I think the first thing that jumps off the film at you is just how athletic they are. That starts up front with their d-line, extremely athletic guys, long and lanky but also strong and powerful men. Going back through their linebackers and their secondary, a lot of speed but guys who are also really tough and are going to come up and strike you. At every position on the field we're going to have a challenge waiting for us but that's what we're expecting and we're excited about.
On continued zeal going from the regular season into the bowl game...
I think that the break we had after Minnesota kind of helped us because the season can get long and can be a grind. We had those couple weeks to get our legs back and get fresh mentally as well as physically. Going through this bowl practice, I feel like we've had a lot of time to knock the rust off. I mean really every day we've been getting in the groove of it and every practice has been better than the last one. I really do feel like we're hitting our stride now and we're ready to play.
On any self realization this year...
Well I think that the biggest thing is you've got to keep pushing no matter what happens, because over the course of a game, so many things can happen and it can be a roller coaster of emotion. But I think if you just stay stable, stay even keel, you'll find that it's going to yield the best results. Especially over the course of a season too, I think it's well documented all the shortcomings we've had and how close we were. I thought this team did a good job of staying resilient and staying consistent, getting those last couple of wins to get us to a bowl game. I think if you just stay a level head and even keel then you'll like the results.
Junior running back Le'Veon Bell
On the atmosphere in the practice facility...
It's been hot. Your body gets used to it at first, 20 or 25 minutes out there and your body just adapts to it. You may sweat a lot, might be a little hot, but we have to adapt to it.
On the layoff...
I feel like it is just starting to go away now, guys are starting to get their feet under them. The first couple days were a little shaky, we were rusty and you could tell.
On the TCU defense...
TCU plays hard...That is a good defense we have to go against. We have a tough challenge in front of us. We have to go out there and do our job and we will be fine.
On similarities with teams in the Big Ten...
If I had to compare them to somebody in the Big Ten it would be a Nebraska. They play a lot of nickel; bring in an extra DB, two-deep safeties. They simulate Nebraska a lot and remind me of them a bit.
On the energy level of this team...
I feel like we've had great energy, practices have been great and guys are going after it. Coach D's energy level has been high too. I feel like our team follows in his footsteps, when he is enthused and into practice, we all are.
On the play of Lawrence Thomas...
LT has been doing a great job. Whether he is on offense or defense, he is a playmaker. He can play a lot of positions and be great at those positions. They will keep looking at him at different positions and see where he is best at. He is going to play both sides of the ball.