How tough was Michigan State today?
They played well. They really came out strong. And we came out flat.
Why would you come out flat in a game?
I don't know. I think the guys in leadership positions like myself have to do a better job of just emphasizing every snap. Obviously as an offense, I didn't play my role today.
You got down 14 early. Did that make it particularly difficult out there?
No. We know it's a long game. We feel if we come out an execute the way we need to that we can get back in any game, especially when it's that early. But, you know, we just shot ourselves in the foot too much. To their credit, they played a great game. They didn't let us back in.
Are you talking about turnovers Nate?
Oh yeah. We've got to take better care of the ball. And just penalties, there was a lot of them.
Did they surprise you how quick they came out? We're you expecting that?
Yeah. It's Big Ten football. And they came out ready for Big Ten. We need to get there.
One loss won't cost you the title. Do you feel like you still have a shot?
We'll see how much character we have as a team because, for sure, we need to regroup, work on our mistakes, and come back on Tuesday ready to work. It will be a character builder for us.
Are you concerned about this team's ability to come back?
No. I don't think so. I think we have good leadership. Our guys are going to pull together and it will just make us strong.
You guys ran the ball well early. Did you guys get away from that?
I don't think we got away from it too much. I think Michigan State did a good job of shutting it down.
Did they confuse you guys?
No. It was what we saw on film. I think, more than anything, they were aggressive. They just kept coming the whole game.
How did their pressure change what you guys wanted to do?
It didn't change what we were doing. We didn't change our approach. We just feel like we need to come out and execute better.
Where do you feel like you struggled today?
Just as far as leadership. We looked bad trying to move the ball in the end of the game. We couldn't get the ball past the 50. And that's right on the quarterback. We've got to regroup. In that time of the game, we need to come and execute every play.
Do you think in the long run this can be an Iowa State game (2002) for you guys?
I hope so. I mean that just emphasizes for us the kind of character we need to have. We remember that from last year. We rebounded from the loss. We need to do the same thing this year.
Were they rushing any differently than what you had seen on tape?
No. It's what we expected out of them. They're an aggressive team, and they came ready to play.
On the fumble, did you guys run the sprint out too many times?
I think that was the only time we sprinted the whole game. We did a bunch of nakeds today. And those were there throughout the day. The play calling was great today. We just didn't do our job. The players need to execute the plays.
What was going on with the fumbled snaps?
That was just something that we can't have. We'll get on the film. We'll go into practice this week and try to get everything straightened out. That's something that we definitely need to focus on.
What happened on those yearly touchdowns?
There were a couple of blown coverages there. They came out with different things that we didn't expect right away. It hurt us. It was not coming out and starting fast.
Could you see from the sidelines that the offense couldn't get a rhythm?
They did some good things, but they just couldn't get going. We win and lose like a team. It's tough sometimes, but I think they'll come around. They'll learn from their mistakes this week and get better next week.
How did you feel getting back on the field?
It was fine. I enjoyed it. It's tough now after taking the loss. It actually makes things worse for me.
Coach said that you tweaked your football a little bit. How do you feel?
I'll be fine. It's just a little tweak. I'll just try to come back next week and be ready.
Can you think of a reason why you guys came out flat?
We prepared well. We were ready. Sometimes it happens in a way where you don't know how to explain it. We just didn't start fast. That's one of our goals. We want to come out and start fast and finish strong. Today was just a day we couldn't get going.
You guys played yourselves back into it after a slow start. How did you feel at halftime?
At halftime, Coach Ferentz talked about coming out and starting strong and being ready for anything. We were ready coming out. We just really couldn't get it going today.
Were you thrown off by their no huddle offense?
It was just unexpected. But it's the game of football and you've got to expect that every week. We just have to be able to have our defense be able to get lined up and just be ready to play and be ready for anything.
Was it more a lack of execution than weaknesses being exposed?
I think we execute well week in and week out. Sometimes you'll have a busted play but as long as everyone's going full speed, you can't take that away from them. I give them a lot of credit for coming in and making some big plays on us and getting the win.
It's been a long time since you lost. Can this be like the Iowa State last year?
I really haven't even thought of it that way. A loss is a loss. We know we have to come in next week and be ready and be prepared.
Is there kind of a sense of urgency now with already having a conference loss?
I think there was a sense of urgency before this game. Now it's going to be more of just us being ready as a whole team and making sure we're doing the right things to get better week in and week out.
Did their defense throw you guys off today?
I don't think so. I think we just weren't ready to go. We didn't make the plays we had to make and we killed ourselves in a lot of ways. We did a lot of stupid things, and they took advantage of it.
When you say stupid things, what are you referring to?
Fumbles. Holds. Anything. All the stuff that hurt us. We can't win like that.
It seems uncharacteristic for this team. Is there something you can point to to explain it?
No. We just have to come out ready to go. We can't make those errors. They took advantage of them. So, there it is.
Did their defensive line doing anything that you didn't see on tape?
Nope. Everything we thought they'd do, they did. We just didn't do the things that we needed to do and do them right. We didn't do that in a lot of cases.
How do you recover?
We have to have a good week like we do every week. We have to learn from the mistakes and be ready to go by next Saturday.
Did it seem like a snowball effect, once the mistakes started, you couldn't stop them?
Yeah. We just kept shooting ourselves in the foot. We're not going to beat anybody doing that. They're a good ball club and they took advantage of it. There's not a lot more you can say.
Were you guys ready for a big, strong, fast, athletic Big Ten team? You really hadn't played anything like this.
Yeah. I thought we were ready for them. We just didn't do the things today that we needed to do to win. That's just what it comes down to.
Can you talk about the (bad) snaps?
Yeah. I don't know. You can't do that if you want to win games. There's obviously something going wrong, and that wasn't it. There were a lot of mistakes.
Coach Ferentz said there were little things beyond the offensive line that weren't working. Do you know what he means?
We did a lot of things wrong and it wasn't just one area of the team. There were plenty of mistakes. We can't have that. We have to learn from that and be ready for next week.
Where did you start on that tackle you made after the fumble?
I have no clue. I just saw him pick it up and I tried to make the play and I was lucky enough to squeeze in and make the tackle. But it didn't do a lot more than that.
Can you talk about those first two series?
They did a good job of switching up the tempo of the game. It kind of took us out of rhythm a little bit. But I think we did a good job of weathering the storm. They had two drives. After that, in three quarters, they scored six points. So, I mean, we did enough o keep us in the ball game. But sometimes the other team just plays a better game.
Coach said that it seemed like you guys were on your heels a little bit. Was it more emotional than tactical?
They've got so many options they can go to. You've got to feel them out a little bit. But we did it a little too much. I think we kind of played back and let them run the routes instead of getting up on them and disrupting them too much.
Was there confusion in coverage?
No. They just had a couple of different formations that we just needed to adjust to. But everybody was in the right spots. They just made good plays.
Is it frustrating for the defense to play like that and know that you can't make any mistakes because the offense is struggling?
You've just got to stay positive and keep encouraging those guys. We've got a great team. We've got a power running game. They're going to get it going. They're just like us. They've got to adjust to what the other team is doing and then strike. It's just our job to keep the team in the game and their job to put points up.
How disappointing was it not to force a turnover?
We've been doing a good job of forcing turnovers and getting the ball. There were a couple of times where that ball was coming out, but their guy was quick to get down to the ground. We thought all game that we were going to get a big turnover. It was coming, but we just ran out of time.
How do you guys bounce back from this one?
Seniors, it's on our backs to step up and carry this team. We have to erase it from our memories after tomorrow night and we have to get after Michigan. It's tough. It makes you sick. But it's something that you've got to live with. It's going to make us better in the long run.
How do you guys bounce back from this?
The challenge is how we react from this game. We didn't plan on this happening, but you've got to look at the positive side. The positive side is that we had this happen in the beginning of the Big Ten. We've still got Michigan and Ohio State. So, it's like I'd rather have it now than down the road. It's like with Chandler when he hadn't thrown an interception and then he did. He got it out of his system. With us getting this loss now, it's going to give us a chip on our shoulder for the next games.
Were you starting to lose that chip on your shoulder?
I don't think we lost the chip on our shoulder. I just don't think we were in the mind set like we were in the start of the Miami of Ohio and Buffalo games. We start off slow and then we get into it. We did that today. You don't plan on it. But it happened today and it hurt us in the long run. We had too many turnovers. In the last games, we took advantage of the special teams and everything. We couldn't do that today.
Did you learn something about not having enough emotion on the road?
They had the emotion. They came out ready to play. We felt like we were ready. We were all hyped. We were anxious to go out first to set the tempo for our offense. They came out with a game plan. They were throwing screens to keep our D-line from rushing the quarterback. They came out with a game plan in the beginning, but they only scored three points in the second half.
Was this the same Jeff Smoker that you saw last year?
The one thing that I can say about Jeff Smoker was that he came out confident and it looked like he put last year's game behind him.
Did they do anything defensively to throw you guys off?
I think we moved the ball well in the first half. In the second half, they really didn't do much different. Bu they played their butts off. I don't think they confused us or anything like that. We just couldn't get anything going. They came after us and made us work for it.
Was it the most aggressive defensive line that you've seen this year?
No. They played hard. Those guys played hard. They wanted to win the game. They obviously wanted to make a statement. I think they accomplished that today.
We you surprised that you guys were flat in the Big Ten opener?
Anytime we don't come out and start fast, I am surprised. If we don't come out and play well, absolutely I am surprised. We didn't do that today. We weren't ourselves. Right from the opening kickoff, we weren't ourselves. We got what we deserved today. We didn't play our football.
Can you talk about the fourth-and-one where Fred got stuffed?
You know, we got the call. I thought we had a good push off of the line. We weren't all on the same page. I think that was the story of the game. We were never on the same page. I'm talking about the whole offense. That includes the offensive line. We didn't communicate well today and we didn't get anything done.
It's easy to point fingers at the offensive line, but is there a lot more that goes into it when things break down this bad?
We'll be the first ones to step up and take blame for the lack of consistency in our offensive. I don't even know how many times they got to Nate. And when they didn't get to him, I mean he was pressured to throw the ball. So, we didn't get our job done.
Can you look to inexperience at all for today's problems?
It would be easy to kind of fall back on that. But we were inexperienced last week at a few positions. We were inexperienced against Miami of Ohio to open the season at every position. So, no. We just weren't ready to play.
How to you rebound from this?
We're going to try to figure that out tomorrow. I don't know what was going on. We had a great week of practice. We had a great trip and good focus. And then we came out and basically laid an egg. We weren't ready to play.
Did turnovers play into that?
I think turnovers were a result of that. And it wasn't one guy turning it over. It was a team effort. We'd like Nate not to get hit coming off of the edge. Obviously, he can't do much about that. We'd like to have less guys attacking the ball. I don't even know what it is. It's just "it." And we didn't have "it" today. I think that contributed to the turnovers. I don't think the turnovers caused it.
Nate kind of took responsibility for the loss. What does it feel like to have your quarterback say that?
You know, it's not his fault. Nate is trying to be a team guy and step up and take responsibility. And not at all is it his fault. It's no more my fault than it's his fault than it's Eric Rothwell's fault than it's Pete McMahon's fault. We're going to sit back long. We're going to have to look at that tape and try to find out what we did wrong. I don't think it was one guy's fault. It's a team effort when we win. It's a team effort when we lose. Today was a pretty ugly team effort.
Is the confidence a fragile issue at this point?
I don't think so. You look at any game that you lose, and it's going to hurt tonight. I'm going to let it hurt tonight. It should. You don't savor that kind of feeling, but you feel it. You have to if you're a competitor. You look at last year. That game we lost, it was a big game. I remember it hurt. And to be honest with you, that game hurt all week. It hurt until we started the Big Ten season. We're going to let this one hurt tonight, and then tomorrow we're going to go back to work. There's seven ball games left to play. The Big Ten is still wide open. We're ready for that challenge.
Can this game do what the Iowa State game did last year?
I hope so. I think it has the potential to do that. I'm not going to come out and say that we're going to run the table in the Big Ten from here on out. That would be a pretty ludicrous statement after today's game. But we're going to learn from it and we're going to build on it just like a win.