Dec. 30, 2010
ORLANDO, Fla. - The Michigan State football team continued bowl preparation with its fifth practice in Orlando on Thursday at Freedom High School.
Following practice, offensive coordinator Don Treadwell, defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, senior linebacker Greg Jones and junior quarterback Kirk Cousins took part in a press conference at the Rosen Plaza Hotel, answering questions from numerous reporters regarding the upcoming matchup against No. 15 Alabama in the Capital One Bowl Saturday, Jan. 1 at 1 p.m.
In the evening, head coach Mark Dantonio and several players spoke to a crowd of hundreds of Spartan fans at the official Capital One Bowl Pep Rally at Pointe Orlando.
MSU will conclude its bowl preparation with a walk-through and team picture Friday at Citrus Bowl Stadium.
The following is a complete transcript of Thursday's press conference:
COACH Don Treadwell: Certainly a pleasure to be here. We've had the privilege of being here before. Certainly a first-class organization and everyone that's involved with the game has just been outstanding in terms of the hospitality and first-class manner of where they take us and when they take us. It's just been really kind of neat to be treated in the special way that they have done that. For those of us who are married, having the family and the children down really make it special all around.
The game itself is a tremendous challenge. I'm sure there's a storyline involved when it comes to coaches on the opposing team that have been connected to Michigan State so we certainly have a lot of respect for those coaches. As you look at Alabama from top to bottom, just a tremendous unit. There's no weaknesses as you look at them. Our work is certainly cut out for us.
COACH Pat Narduzzi: Orlando's been beautiful. Not quite the weather, but the atmosphere and the activities we've had, so thanks to the city of Orlando for the things they've done for us there. As far as the challenge we've got, Coach Dantonio always calls it a business trip. The business happens in a couple of days and I think our kids are really fired up for it. We're going to have to play a great game against a great team in Alabama.
On Kirk Cousins' development...
TREADWELL: Like many great QBs you see the growth of the understanding of the entire offense, how it works from the inside out. He's kind of what you're looking for when it comes to a QB; he's a student of the game who probably watches as much tape if not more as his coaches. Having said that, he's so much more grounded and understanding of the intricacies of the offense that he's truly an extension of the coaching staff on the field.
Kirk Cousins: Quarterback is a process, it's something you never fully arrive at. When I first came here, I had a lot to learn. Two very important things to winning games: making good decisions and managing the game. It's hard as a freshman and a sophomore to make those good decisions and manage the game efficiently and consistently. I think the biggest thing is I've been more consistent doing that this year.
On any added distractions with this being the last game of the season...
Greg Jones: I am taking it in, but at the same time I just want to stay even and keep doing what I've been doing. It is starting to sink in though. On how disruptive Jones is during practice...
COUSINS: We go against him all spring, and throughout two-a-days. Greg has an uncanny ability to avoid being blocked. If you're a linebacker and it's hard to block you, you're going to make a lot of plays. He just has a natural ability to play linebacker. Greg brings it every day.
On slowing down Alabama's running game...
JONES: It starts in the front with their O line. Just a big group of guys, well-coached, not a whole lot of weaknesses. And Mark Ingram is shifty but can run you over at the same time. Not just him, though. You get the same from both running backs. It's going to be hard but I'm excited about the challenge of going up against those guys.
On similarities between Alabama and any Big Ten opponent...
TREADWELL: They've got a little Wisconsin in them and a little bit of Iowa. They've got big physical tailbacks like Iowa does. But they've got more explosive wideouts across the board. They're loaded with talent and it's going to be fun.
On Alabama's defense...
COUSINS: It's a great challenge. Tremendous athletes, well-coached, disciplined football team. We're going to need to execute from start to finish. They have guys that fly around and use their athleticism to their advantage. They're a blitzing team and they're going to try to keep you guessing, keep you on your toes, and that's where having a month of preparation and seeing those blitzes on film and get better at what we're going to do to attack them.
On using Jones to prepare for Alabama LB Dont'a Hightower...
COUSINS: Anytime you can go against great players, it helps. It was tough but it made us better. One of the reasons we're 11-1 is that we did have to face Greg all year. We've played great teams so this is nothing new, but we also want to give Alabama their due and say they are a team that's right up there with anybody we've played.
On how Coach Dantonio's health problems during the season helped bring the team together...
TREADWELL: One of the things that had already developed before coach was facing his adversity from a health standpoint was the fact that our program had come to a point where we've been here for four years. Coach Dantonio has laid a tremendous foundation so there was so much already in place already that for Pat and I we just wanted to move forward with what Coach would want to have done.
NARDUZZI: Coach Treadwell is a tremendous leader and Coach Dantonio trusts his leaders. We did the same thing on defense. I'm the D coordinator and I make the defensive calls, so it was status quo. We did our job.
On meeting Alabama QB Greg McElroy and their relationship...
COUSINS: The first time I've seen him in person was about 10 minutes ago passing him in the hallway. I'm sure after the game we'll exchange hellos. He's got a national championship ring and I'd like one of those. I have a lot of respect for a guy that can lead a team to a national championship and an undefeated season.
On playing banged up...
COUSINS: Part of playing in the Big Ten is it's going to be physical. I took my fair share of hits at times this year. Our training staff did a great job of getting me ready each week to be as healthy as possible. Now with about a month of time to heal up I feel very good and ready to go for this game.