OPENING STATEMENT: Well, there's not a lot to say. I'll congratulate the Spartans. They played a fantastic football game. They just outplayed us. That's basically what happened. We made some critical errors, obviously. But you have to give them credit. They did a fantastic job. They were more prepared to play. And that's our responsibility to get our football team ready to go. We have to do a better job. Certainly we need to play better. We'll get back to work tomorrow.
Did it basically come down to the turnovers?
They certainly didn't help us. We got beat at our own game today. Michigan State did a great job protecting the football. And then, conversely, and they knocked it out and got it loose. Turnovers are a big part of any football game. Certainly with the kind of football team we are, they're major. To come out the way we did in the turnover battle is not a good thing.
Coach, what about the first quarter? You had a lot of trouble adjusting.
To their credit, they did a great job, obviously. They changed a few things up. They came out with the no-huddle offense, a lot of screen, you know, quick passes. It took us out of a rhythm. That first drive was a thing of beauty. It was excellent planning, an excellent game plan on their part. Certainly their attack today held up on both sides of the football.
Did they make any adjustments to shut down Fred Russell in the second half?
You know, I think we really hurt ourselves. But again, the credit goes to Michigan State. We have negative yardage plays, penalties, things that are uncharacteristic of the way we've been playing. And we're not a great come-from-behind football team, at this point. We knew that coming into the season. We're not a great second-and-20 football team or a third-and-long football team. That's just the way we're built right now. That's the way it's going to be for a little bit. I'm optimistic that we'll get better with each offensively. I'm not sure we did today. But I'm optimistic that we will. And that's going to be imperative for us of we're going to have success.
Was this your offensive line's worst game so far?
I'll have to look at the tapes. I don't know if that's fair or not. There are a lot of little things that happen that aren't all their shoulders. It's a team effort. I'll leave it that way. We had some critical plays, I thought, that maybe went beyond that.
Did Bob hurt his foot again?
Yeah, he tweaked it a little. He's walking around the locker room right no. But I'm sure he's going to be sore tomorrow though.
Could you talk about Nathan's game?
Offensively we all took a step backwards in this football game. There's no question about that. Nathan is included in that. But again, I think a lot of that had to do with the situations that we put ourselves in. You get in those situations, and we're not quite built to handle that at this point.
Could you talk about the decision to play Scott Chandler today?
We just thought we'd take a shot. You may have noticed we're down a few receivers right now. We didn't have all the freshmen dressed, but I guess we had three of them right now out there. We felt that he was a guy that we could use down there in the plus-20. Certainly, he's a tall guy. We thought that maybe we'd take a shot of throwing the ball up there. He almost came down with it. I couldn't see from the sideline, but he gave it a good effort.
Coach, could you talk about Michigan next week?
What would you like to know? They're a pretty good football team. I know that. We thought that back in July. We thought that a year ago. It's a pretty safe thing to say. It's going to be a great challenge for our team. They've got an excellent football team. We knew that coming into the season. Every game in the Big Ten this season is going to be extremely difficult. Until someone shows us otherwise, that's going to be the slate. We've got a tough, eight-game stretch in the Big Ten. It's going to be certainly a big challenge for us. The first thing that we need to do is rebound and make sure we take care of our house. Then we have to worry about a very fine football team.
Could you see this coming at all?
No I didn't. I thought we had a pretty good week of practice. We discussed that early in the week. I don't know if we had an edge out there today, but I don't think I could say that I saw it coming. I thought we were ready to go.
How has Mo and the other guys being out changed the playbook?
It doesn't help anything. We knew that a couple of weeks ago when Mo went out. We didn't have Ed Hinkel dressed today either. We came into the season not really loaded on offense. We knew we were going to be inexperienced. We'll keep shipping away, but that doesn't help things. But we're not making any excuses. We had chances to make some plays today and we didn't make it happen.
Were they doing a good job in the back end (secondary) today?
I think so. It looked like we weren't getting many guys free today in the passing game. Obviously, I think you noticed, there wasn't a lot of rhythm or tempo to our offense today. That's not a good sign. A lot of that goes back to situations. You get the penalties, you get a negative yardage play, and all of a sudden, it gets tough to have that rhythm or establish that rhythm.
Do you think they gave special attention to stopping Fred Russell?
They've got a good defensive front. We thought that coming in. I was very impressed with their front seven. But certainly those two ends are very good players.
Did you see what happened on the fourth-and-one play when Fred got stopped?
Yeah, we just had penetration on that left side and Fred wasn't able to cut behind it. Their guy got back in the backfield. We couldn't get it where Freddie could make the cutback.
What was the difference between Smoker being able to do what Walter and Roethlisberger could not?
Well, I don't know. I think…again, I thought it was a good game plan. They had an excellent game plan. They took us or put us on our heels with that first series, the tempo part. They did a good job of mixing it up. They slipped a couple of runs in there that were affective. They just had an excellent game plan. They know we're an aggressive defense and I thought they had a very nice plan. And he was very efficient all day long.
Did you guys maybe go to the boot one too many times? I'm thinking of the play when Nathan got sacked.
I don't know if we went to it one too many times. That was a sprint-out actually. That was an unfortunate play.
Last year, you bounced back from the Iowa State game. Do you see anything that tells you have the same kind of character, the same kind of bounce back ability?
I felt coming into the season that we had a team with great character. What we did last year, you never expect to run the table like that. But I did expect out guys to bounce back. We had a tough loss. I thought they'd bounce back. They did. And I expect us to do that again. We're not as experienced offensively. We're more experienced defensively. But the kind of guys we have on our football team are great guys. They're great young people to be around. We'll go back tomorrow, and we'll get better this week. There's no question in my mind.