Talk about Michigan State and the challenges that they present to the offense.
They are a very good defensive football team. They are a really big football team. Their down guys, they 320, 320 at tackle, and 305 at defensive end. So it's the biggest football team we've played defensively.
It's a little different coverage scheme than what we've seen the last two weeks. So in that sense our preparation has been a little different.
I think their physical size is going to be a factor in what we're trying to get done.
Obviously Michigan State has lost three in a row but this is obviously a team that beat Notre Dame and had chances to beat both Michigan and Ohio State. Does the team appreciate how difficult it will be to go into Spartan Stadium and get a win?
I think so. Really, though, what we have to do is just have to get back to playing good offensive football, and I'm sure they are feeling the same way after they've lost three in a row.
That can happen in this league – you can lose three in a row because the league is so good and so deep. We have to take care of ourselves, get some consistency back in our offense. Ohio State got after us pretty good.
I think we've had a good week of practice, and I think we have a good plan. It's not one of those things where we're going in saying we have to be able to run the football to win. We have to be able to move the football. At different times during the year we've done it both throwing and running.
We have to go up there with the mindset we're going to play hard and we have to execute, and whatever is there, we have to be able to take.
You look at the last couple of weeks, there were a couple of things scheme wise you'd think – we weren't able to do those things.
We have to get back to playing with some confidence and get after it a little bit, have some fun playing, and make some plays whether it's in the run game or the pass game.
A lot of people have been making a lot out of the struggles in the running game. With this offense, do the running yards get a bit overanalyzed?
I think so – there's no question.
I think what you look at with your running game is your efficiency. We weren't very efficient Saturday. We had two 3rd and shorts and didn't get it. Well, those are first downs, those keep the drive alive, those maybe take you out of a score.
Our first down efficiency in running the ball wasn't very good. When you run the ball on first down you want to average four yards or more. Well, we averaged two. So all of a sudden we're 2nd-and-8 instead of 2nd and 6. Those are the sort of things instead of the sheer number of yards.
As an offensive coordinator, what statistics are most critical in your mind, to offensive success?
I think 3rd down conversions are really big, especially with our offense. Your third down percentage goes way up the shorter third down is.
I guess you can go back to first down efficiency, but it's a combination of first and second down that gets you in good 3rd down situations.
It's like Iowa – we were well over 50 percent on third downs, but we were in a lot of 3rd and mediums and third and shorts. Against Ohio State, we weren't. We had a couple of 3rd and shorts and failed, and other than that, we were in a lot of third and longs, and against a team like that, your success won't be very good.
It's pretty revealing how you play offensively.
Ohio State handed it to the team pretty good this past week, which I'm guessing was a blow to the team's confidence. What have you noticed in that regard in your preparation for Michigan State?
I think we've had a good week of practice. We got back Sunday and talked about it and got on to Michigan State. Monday is a day off, and I think we came back Tuesday ready to go, and we've had a good week of practice.
It's always good when you're playing someone different and it's a different plan. You don't change your offense, but the defense you're going against, the looks you're getting, the stunts, the blitzes, all those type of things. So Tuesday it's a whole new plan, and they have to get ready to go.
That's what's fun about football – you have a new chance each week. They understand that Ohio State is a darn good defensive football team. We didn't play as well as we'd like.
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