Dec. 28, 2011
TAMPA, Fla. - Michigan State held its third bowl practice in Tampa on Wednesday afternoon at Jesuit High School. Prior to practice, offensive line coach Mark Staten and defensive line coach Ted Gill met with reporters to talk about the upcoming matchup against No. 18 Georgia in the 2012 Outback Bowl on Monday, Jan. 2 at 1 p.m.
Offensive Line Coach Mark Staten
Overview of the offensive line this season...
They're doing very well. Fortunate, and unfortunate, I don't know which way you want to say it, we've had 10 starters if you include Arthur Ray over the course of the year due to some nicks, and some scrapes and some bumps and bruises.
So all these guys have played together in one way or another, and they feel good about the communication. We've been with our standard five the majority of the season from post-Notre Dame on, and they've really jelled together. They've been able to work combination blocks, double-teams, etc., and it's been a lot of fun to coach them and watch them get that.
On his baseline worst-case scenario compare to the product that's now on the field...
I don't know if there was a worst-case scenario. You play with what you have and fortunately we've got a lot of talent in that room. We don't lose a ton, I mean we lose a great player in our left guard (Joel Foreman) and we lose a very good backup player in Jared McGaha.They do such a good job of putting everything into it, so it's not hard for a coach to pull it out of them.
Fou Fonoti and Dan France say they don't even recognize their early-season selves when they look at film. Has the progress been that dramatic?
They've still got a long way to go and they'll tell you that. But if you watch early film on us and then watch them later, you see the battle tests them and the battle makes them better, and that's what it's done.
Fortunately, those guys have been tested, and they've gone through an entire season, so it's going to really put some great emphasis toward competition come spring and holding down. Just because you've started one year doesn't necessarily mean you can come in and waltz through spring practice. So that's going to be good, too.
On Joel Foreman...
He is such a program guy. He's out of a smaller town in Michigan and just a leader, and how he goes we go. And him and I constantly talk about that. It's good to have him out here. He's only got a few practices left, he's got the nickname Yoda because Yoda in those movies was all beat up and walking out there on a cane, and when it's time to go he was ready to go.
He's great for that room, and a great leader, and one of the things we discussed, and Coach D discussed it to the whole team, and we discussed it in more detail in our room, the leadership is based on being leader and doing the right things, but also what you pass on to those who come after you and are able to lead. So I think he's doing a good job of preparing the young guys for that.
Where does the line stand looking ahead, especially at left guard. Do you get to keep Blake Treadwell on your side of the ball?
That's a great question. You've got a lot of pieces to the puzzle that can fill in there. You've got some guys that you haven't even seen yet that have been doing a great job against our defense on the look squad, so they'll get opportunities there. Tready will get an opportunity there. Jack Allen is another one who've we've been fortunate enough to redshirt and haven't had to play. Ethan Ruhland, John Deyo, you can go on and on with guys who have actually seen time, been out there in battles and perhaps, they're the ones who are able to do it.
On what he's seen from Georgia...
Well, they're very big. It's a top 10 defense. It's going to be a test and these guys play hard and play well throughout the game. It's a very tough, tough defense. You seem them in the (SEC) championship game and you see them stop LSU the first, I think it was, eight drives without a first down. They're going to be relentless, they're going to continue to pursue the ball and so we likewise will have to continue to pursue after our blocks.
Do they compare to anybody else you've faced, Notre Dame for example?
Schematically there's some comparisons, but as far as the pieces of the puzzle that fit into that defense, we haven't seen a lot of 300-pound defensive ends and things of that nature. Notre Dame schematically.
Defensive Line Coach Ted Gill
Overview of the defensive line going into the Outback Bowl...>
I tell you what, healthwise we're in very good shape. I think the time off really gave us a chance to recuperate and get all the little bumps and bruises taken care of and I feel very good with where we are right now. Mindset has been very good. I think the kids are excited to be here. Coming out of the last game was a disappointment and I think we've gotten over that, and are to the point now where we understand what the next game is about. I think our kids have really been working hard trying to really get to that point where they understand about working on the little things to get themselves better.
Can you speak to the productivity of the line and their ability to disrupt?
I think what happens with us is we've grown as a defensive line. The thing with us is we have a good mixture of young guys and older guys, so to speak. When we lost (Kevin) Pickelman, we had another guy step up and take over - Rashad White. And then I think on and on you find guys like Jerel Worthy helping out guys, you find Will Gholston who's been in a situation where he's really learning every day he goes on the field and I think he's really progressed. And I think the other guy who's really done a good job of trying to get better in situations is Marcus Rush, along with Denzel Done, so they complement each other. You can see the mixture of guys working to get better. You see the mixture of guys really trying to get themselves to the point where they are getting better every day along with the younger guys. It's really a good situation right now. I feel really good about where we are right now.
Jerel Worthy always talks about the goal of getting better every day. Have they and is that even possible?
No doubt and I preach that a lot. We spend a lot of time on film, so my whole thing is to take what you learn on film and come out on the field and make it better. Don't be the same when you leave. Make it better or try to make what you've done a little bit bad on that day, make it better and better as we continue to grow as a group.
Three of your top four tacklers are linebackers. How much credit does the line get for that?
The thing about it is you have different kids every year who do different things. And so, if you can continue to grow in those aspects, one guy getting a little more penetration, another guy doing a little bit more in his position, I think it complements each other. I think we're a little bit different team than we were last year. So I'm excited about where we are and it continues to get better and better as we continue to grow.
How about the year Gholston has had and where is his development at this point and what playing against Georgia will mean for going into next season?
He continues to grow every chance he goes on the field. He's a guy who really concentrates on the little things in the film. He has grown every time he looks at the film. He grows every time he's on the practice field. I think what Will will do is put it all together and he'll grow in the offseason as far as trying to get himself to be a better player. We make him look at a lot of film, and I think he's grown in that area. When he continues to get better and better in that area I think we'll continue to grow (as a defense) and make him a lot better player. I think he knows where he is right now, and I think he'll understand where he is and will continue to grow as we continue to grow with him. No doubt about it, the sky's the limit for him. He'll continue to get better and better every day, and he'll continue to grow in a lot of different aspects of the game.
Georgia presents a lot of problems against the run. They also throw the ball real well, so the mixture of things they do and the combination of changing those things up on different down and distances will give us a chance to really excel and maybe do things a little bit more-so unexpected from what they think we're going to do. They present a challenge, but I think our kids are up for the challenge and I think we'll be ready to go.
You've faced a line as big as this one when you played Wisconsin, so your guys shouldn't be fazed by Georgia's size?
It shouldn't at all, but this will be a different challenge for us. It's a good mixture of things that they do. I think this will give us a chance to excel in a lot of different areas.
How are the guys filling in doing?
They're doing good. I think the guys are getting better and better every day in those little things and I think they'll continue to get better as we continue to progress. This time (before the bowl) gives us a lot of chances to really work on trying to get them better.
On Micajah Reynolds...
Doing good. He's going to get a lot of snaps and I think he progresses every day we go out. We've just got to work on him understanding the little things about hands and steps, because the transition of coming from offense to defense is a little different. At the same time, I think he's been there and he understands what we're trying to get.
Is it crazy to think he could start there next year if Worthy leaves?
No. I tell you, the sky's the limit for that guy. He continues to get better and better. He's a big guy who can run. You never know what a big guy who can run will do. So, I'm excited about his opportunities.
Do you agree with the Wisconsin comparisons with Georgia?
They present the size, they present the speed. A little different attack. They don't always do the same things Wisconsin does because they have a lot of misdirection things - I'm talking about Wisconsin. But this team will give us some basic power things that we've seen before, and I think it will be pretty good for us to do that because our offense is very similar to some of the things they do.
What young guys have stood out?
Micajah. I think the other guy who continues to get better is Rush. Gholston keeps working hard. Rashad White keeps working hard in that area. Denzel Drone. All those guys continue to grow in those positions.