Add to Calendar
Skip to main content Skip to footer

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl Media Day: Defense

Defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi talks to reporters at MSU's Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl Media Day on Thursday in the Smith Center.

Dec. 20, 2012

Player Interviews

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State held its Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl Media Day on Thursday in the Clara Bell Smith Center Auditorium. MSU defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi and several defensive players talked about facing TCU on Dec. 29 in Tempe, Ariz.

Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi

Q. When you take a look at TCU on film, since the quarterback seems to have gotten better almost every week, give us your assessment of their offense.

Pat Narduzzi: TCU has definitely gotten better, (Trevone) Boykin at quarterback, very athletic, can make things happen with his feet. You know, that prototypical spread offense with quarterback runs and break and contain. They're going to mostly be a four wide out set; probably 50 percent of their offense is four skilled receivers as good as we've seen this year, I think.

Again, they have made strides. They've really played three quarterbacks this year. We've gone through every tape from the whole season. I think he's matured at that position as the year has gone on, and I'm sure this bowl practice has been good for him, too, so I'm sure we'll see some things that we haven't really practiced for.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the importance of the corners in your defense to having two veteran corners who can handle things on their own and just sort of Darqueze Dennard a little bit and maybe where he's underrated, undervalued a little bit?

Pat Narduzzi: I'm glad he's underrated. Not on our staff he isn't, that's for sure. I think it's huge to have the two great corners that we have, and we're privileged to have those two guys line up for us every Saturday. And it's a huge part, I don't care who you're playing. If you're playing Wisconsin, who's going to line up with two tight ends and one receiver, or four receivers like TCU is, it's important to have two guys that we can trust that can go out there and have a lot of confidence in what they do, and they're not going to go out there for the first half and go, oh, my gosh, I've got to cover No. 1. I think it's a huge advantage for us.

Q. Darqueze said that in looking at film and the way you guys explained it, you think they remind you a lot of Northwestern on offense.

Pat Narduzzi: Yeah, I think they're very (similar), not just because of the color purple that they wear, but again, they have similarities to a lot of different plays. You can say, oh, that's the same play Nebraska you pick and choose, but if you had to say there's one team that they're very similar to, it's Northwestern. That's what they do, a lot of the similar packages, alignments by the receivers. Without a doubt I think they're very similar to what they do there.

Q. What have you seen from Lawrence Thomas at defensive tackle so far and what makes that the best spot for him on defense so far?

Pat Narduzzi: Well, I think mainly out of need. I feel like at defensive end, there's nothing at this point saying he can't play defensive end, it's out of need and maturity. The one thing I've seen him do is mature through bowl practice and really throughout the whole season. We gave him an opportunity at fullback, but it wasn't like we were giving him away. I told him that the whole time, and I told Coach Salem, we're getting him back, don't even think about keeping him. So we knew we were getting him back.

He's made some huge, huge strides. You wonder why he didn't play early for us defensively. He's banged up, playing in there for the first time being a linebacker and adjusting to playing defensive end and just the toughness factor. I've seen him...every day he came out this week, Coach, I can't go, I can't go, and at the end of the day he makes it through practice. So mentally he's a lot tougher than he was; that's the first thing. Athletically you watch him run, there was no doubt that he could play defense. I think he's going to be a great player, and I've told this to him a year ago, I told him when he moved to fullback that he will be an all conference defensive lineman. Whether it's an end or a tackle, I don't know, but he'll be an all conference lineman for us without a doubt.

Q. Whatever TCU's game plan is, you can affect it with a better pass rush. Is that a big emphasis going into this game?

Pat Narduzzi: Yeah, I think it always is. I think pass rush is key. They're going to be a 50/50 run pass team, and they're going to get the ball off quick. They've got a lot of quick screens, as well, so as soon as you start to rush that quarterback, everybody wants to get pressure on the quarterback, but when he goes three step, they're going to get it out. We've had more batted down passes this year than I think we've had in two years because the ball is coming out quicker.

When someone looks at you and says, golly, they had 40 some sacks a year ago, let's not old onto the ball, let's get rid of it, and I think that's what we've seen this year. I think the New York Giants have had the same problem. The New York Giants get a lot of sacks. Go look at their stats; in 2011 look at them, in 2012. People are going to figure that stuff out. They get paid to coach, too.

But pass rush is without a question a priority. We've got to get to the quarterback, but then we've also got to play all those screens. They run T screens, T swing screens, they've got jailbreak screens. They've got about every different type of screen that we've worked our tail off on.

Q. A little off the beaten bath of the bowl, your name keeps getting mentioned as a head coaching candidate at different places. How do you manage that, as invested as you are in Michigan State and the players here? Is it a compliment thing or is it something that's just a business thing, you separate from...

Pat Narduzzi: It's flattering to hear all those things, but until I'm sitting at the podium as a head coach somewhere where I want to be, that's the only thing that matters. You focus on the present, you focus on the day, you focus on what your job is to do, and that's all my job is to do. I'm in no hurry, put it that way. I'm not rushing out of here to be the next head coach wherever it can be. It's going to be the right place when the right time comes, and that's all we need to talk about when it comes to jobs. This is a TCU press conference. It's a bowl press conference I guess, right? But that'll come when it comes. Don't worry about that stuff.

Q. I guess just to follow up with this year's defense, you've established a bit of a reputation here, obviously. What are some of the differences this season to the past two seasons as far as what you're doing scheme wise? You mentioned teams getting the ball out quicker. Was that something going into the year you adjusted to or something you realized as the season progressed?

Pat Narduzzi: I think everybody realizes it's going to happen. There's ups and downs in whatever it may be as far as turnovers go and sacks go. But I don't see a whole lot of difference between what we did this year...One of our coaches the other day was doing a self scout report on us and said, how many times did we run that blitz this year? He said, 90. I said, it's just about on par with what we did last year after 12 games. So there's not much of a difference.

If we had a bunch of different changes in our defense then we probably would be on the first step of that ladder of being good at that defense. We do what we do, and the reason we're good I think is our kids can play fast because they know what they're doing and they don't have to go, what changes do we have in store for us this week or this year.

People still got to defend it, and if we're good at what we're doing and good at our trade, then that's the most important thing.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Senior linebacker Chris Norman

On his feelings as being a senior...
There are so many memories that I have and so many people that I've met. I'm also, at the same time, ready to move on to that next stage of life to see where it takes me. It is very sad though.

On his impressions of TCU...
Well, one, TCU prides themselves on toughness kind of like Northwestern, and that's exactly what their offense reminds me of - fast, like to spread you out a little bit. I wouldn't be surprised if they do some quick tempo stuff. It's almost a mirror. So we're used to what we're about to go out and play against and it's something we've seen before and I'm extremely confident. I also know everybody is going to go out and do a good job so I'm excited.

On their quarterback Trevone Boykin and TCU's progress with him over the season...
Their new quarterback brings some new things to the table because he's an athletic guy. He can take off and scramble a little bit, run around a few people. That's something that we have to come for as a defense. If you think about it, it's those kinds of quarterbacks that have given us the most problems this season so we definitely have our hands full going into the game. Once again, I'm extremely confident in what we can do.

On Lawrence Thomas...
He's a really versatile guy. I've never seen somebody with his size be able to go from linebacker to fullback to D-end to D-tackle. He's played a lot of different stuff and I think that's a testament to who he is as a player and his versatility and his athleticism. The adjustment he's been making to D-tackle, I think he's been doing a really good job for somebody who's never played the position before. I'm really excited to see what he can do in his future here at Michigan State.

Junior cornerback Darqueze Dennard

On his impressions of TCU...
What impresses me about TCU is their receiving corp. The two slot receivers do a pretty good job of getting open and making plays with the ball and the two outside receivers attacking the ball.

On the break between the regular season and the bowl game...
I just feel like we've got a longer bye week, getting more prep for the game.

On the possibility of getting back-to-back bowl wins...
It would be real good. That would help the team out a whole lot and would basically catapult us into the 2013 season.

Junior defensive end William Gholston

On bowl practice...
Fun, it was fun the whole time. I love bowl season. Just the game plan, get after it. We scrimmaged a lot more versus first offense and first defense though. That was fun. We got a chance to brush up on our skills.

On TCU...
They've got a really elusive quarterback. Their line slides. They're a good team. They lost some close ones just like we lost some close ones.

On playing against a live quarterback at practice...
You don't understand. The whole d-line room was drooling when they said quarterback live. I don't know how many times they really got to him. I think they got him on the ground a couple of times but the first day he said the quarterback's live we were just so excited.

We blitz a lot so I know there's a lot of pressure (on the quarterback). They are making plays. At first they had to get used to it because they aren't used to going live in practice, so it was a game-time situation for them every time.

On defensive improvement after the regular season...
I feel like we got better during the season, off season, all that. We steadily improve because of our coaches. I can't give you a set number; I just know we improve on the little things.

On the TCU quarterback (Trevone Boykin) compared to others...
We've faced a lot of quarterbacks like him, some who run more, some who throw I guess all of them. Every quarterback we've played against has tried to scramble this season.

On the speed of Boykin ...
I don't know; I just know we've got to follow our game plan. I hate playing against the quarterbacks who run. I like the ones who sit in the pocket, but I'm just confident in our game plan. Whatever the coaches scheme up, I think we'll just execute.

On the TCU offensive line...
They slide a lot, a lot of flash protection, so with those slides and our zone schemes you've got to really control your gap. You can't get out of place because if you get out of place with the quarterback in the run, it can be really hurtful to the scoreboard. So we've just got to control our gaps. Basically, just kind of like what we've been doing the whole season.

Junior linebacker Denicos Allen

On the impression of TCU after scouting film...
I see that they are pretty physical, they like to play. They are fundamentally sound, a typical good college football team. They have a lot of playmakers and we have a lot of players that can make plays. It's an exciting matchup.

On the opportunity to win two straight bowl games...
It would be big. Coach always tells us the seniors want to leave a legacy and we are trying to set the tone for next season. We really think that would be a big boost into next season. It would be a big win, and back-to-back, I don't know when the last time that happened for this program.

On the excitement leading up to the game...
I am always looking forward to the running game. I like teams that run, have good running backs and good lineman. I always like that challenge and always look forward to that.

On the gap between the last game and the bowl game against TCU...
It came real quick, it didn't really seem like we had any time off. It just felt like we had a bye week. It's here now, it was nice having the little time off we had but it's back to game time.

Junior safety Isaiah Lewis

On the spread that TCU runs...
We have to be all over the place and be on our game that day. We have to be conditioned, that's why we just ran sprints today.

To be able to win to win two straight bowl games...
That would be great for the program. That would be a great accomplishment for Coach D, being a good coach that he is. And it would be a good accomplishment for our team as well.

On the impression of TCU...
I feel like it is a pretty good matchup, they kind of remind us of Northwestern. They have pretty good guys on the offensive side of the ball, athletic guys. And I feel like we have athletes on our side of the ball as well. It will be a good matchup.

On the layoff leading up to the bowl game...
We haven't been in a game in a while. We are eager to get out there and play our game again. I'm excited to play against a team from a different conference. Seeing how we matchup against different conferences and it is always fun to see how the competition compares.

Sophomore safety Kurtis Drummond

To be able to send the seniors out with a bowl win...
It would mean a lot. As far as the seniors, no one wants to go out a loser. That is very big. As far as the program, this win can catapult us into next season. I think this will be a pretty big game for us for the upcoming season also.

On the TCU offense...
They look more like a Northwestern, they have playmakers and move fast. They have an explosive offense and can make a big play. We just have to bring our enthusiasm and our energy and all be on the same page.

On the energy level through preparation...
Our energy has been great at practice. We've been having fun, the offense and defense both have just been flying around. We did a lot of live periods, we went full pads and were hitting a lot. We definitely have had good practices as far as emotion and executing.

On being able to win back-to-back bowl games...
If you look at a lot of teams that won their bowl games last year and the success that they had the following year, it gives you confidence. Your offseason training is a lot better and you don't have the coaches and everyone still upset with the loss. I think a lot has to do with momentum and how you perceive things.



Partners & Sponsors