Is football becoming too violent?
I don't think do. I mean, in general terms, yeah, athletes are bigger, stronger, faster then they have probably every been, so the impacts can be…but it‘s always been a pretty violent game. It‘s a collision sport.
Did the doctors keep Shonn out or was that you?
We don‘t do that. It‘s a medical decision. He was fine. It‘s not like anything major happened. But injuries happen. We‘ve had our share.
Has the nature of that changed. Twenty years ago, would Shonn have been sent back in?
I don't think the injuries have changed. The way they are diagnosed now has changed significantly. The protocol for guys with head injuries is totally different. Phil Parker is a great example. Norm just told me that unofficially (Phil Parker) has the Michigan State career record for concussions. If you‘ve ever visited with Phil you can see evidence of that. But in those days they use to give you those ammonia capsules and said get back in there whenever you could. But now it's just a whole different regimen. It's for the better. And we've had players miss up to a month with a concussion. That's the extreme side of it. If you have some kind of serious symptom you don't want to fool around with that, obviously.
So, you were told he was concussed and not available? He came for interviews and all that.
Yeah, you guys saw him. He was fine. He probably could have gone back in the game, but at that point, you know. But at that point he was not cleared, to answer your question. There's a protocol and they wanted to give it a little time before they throw a player back in there. I'm totally supportive of that. I don't want to get involved on the medical side of things.
Anything going on in the Big Ten that surprises you?
To me, it‘s the usual suspects. So far, it‘s been pretty predictable. We‘ve only played one game. I don‘t see any huge surprises yet.
If Paki can‘t go, who‘s your three?
That‘s a good question. Ah, Jayme (Murphy) right now. Yeah.Are you intent on keeping Brinson red shirted?
You know, unless something would change dramatically.
What‘s Paki‘s injury again?
He‘s got a sprain. He‘ll be fine. Hopefully soon. We thought maybe this week.
Is there anything weird about going to Michigan State? I know you haven‘t been there a whole lot of times.
We‘ve missed a couple of trips there or a trip, but I don‘t think so. No.
You‘ve just run into good teams.
Yeah, in ‘99, it was men against boys. It was a Jurassic Park visit with Burress out there. We had our chances two years later. Turnovers factored into that game if I recall. And then '03 was when we deferred, right, kicked off and it was 7-0. We had our chances in that game, too. I think the last win was '95. I just happen to know that one off of the top of my head. Five hundred yards of offense and I think it was 7-0 at halftime. It was a 21-7 game. Both teams went to bowls.
Looking at the depth chart from Saturday, the 2005 (Recruiting) Class had two starters out there. Is that off schedule? What do expect out of each class? Is there a set number in your head?
There‘s no way to predict those things. I don‘t know. I‘ll analyze that after the season. Several of those guys have had career-ending injuries. Alex Kanellis comes to mind right off the bat.
Where does that show up? I imagine that shows up in depth; special teams even.
Yeah, I guess I‘m not into that kind of examination right now. You know, for every one that doesn‘t work out, historically, hopefully, someone will surface as a surprise. That‘s kind of how it usually has to go for us.
That class came in with a lot of streamers.
That‘s a great illustration that prognostications don‘t always materialize. The bottom line is that in football it‘s still more important to win, be ranked in January than in February. That‘s really the end game. That‘s what you‘re trying to do.
Does that speed up schedule, though, when you lose a Dace and an Alex? Then, all of a sudden, Julian Vandervelde is a guy you need to come through.
Certainly, it does affect things. But I‘ll go back to Bruggie, not that Rob was in that class officially. That‘s a good illustration, too, that sometimes the last guy in the class or a guy that wasn‘t even in the class ends up being pretty damn good. It certainly hurt more a year ago not having Bruggie and Dace out there. And Kanellis. Kanellis was a guy that we thought could be a pretty good offensive lineman. That‘s why we pushed him over. When it hits one position, you know, that‘s Murphy‘s Law. It happens in football a lot. Then all of a sudden, you‘re like, "Whoa." That was really evident with our offensive line last year.
Did it kind of show up in quarterback, too, though? When you have a guy like Drew and then Jake with all the stars, does that hurt the recruiting at quarterback?
I don‘t think so. I shouldn‘t just say no. But I don‘t think in all cases it does. Quarterbacks are kind of like running backs. They think they can bat anybody out. That‘s how you want good ones thinking.
Do you emphasize this week or is that kind of like free throws missing?
Well, we‘ll continue to communicate it. It‘s just that everybody needs to do a little better job. That certainly was evident.
Was there a common trait looking on the film?
No. You just analyze all the things we did. Two came on special teams. One was a veteran guy. One wasn‘t a veteran player. The exchange, boy, you hope you‘re not doing that in September. Rick‘s interception, I‘ve seen that before. That‘s a tough chance, especially for a young quarterback. That‘s a tough one when you have a defensive lineman zone dropping like that. And then Shonn‘s, if you‘re standing right there, it was just one of those ones. That‘s going to happen. That‘s part of football. I‘m not sure there was anything we could have done there. What we could have done there is executed our blocking a little better. I‘ll share that with you. That would have kept him from being hung up. And if he‘s not hung up, I don't think that happens. I‘m looking at our execution there. We just missed a little bit on something there. That‘s another illustration there where little detail things like that can really impact a game. That‘s why they‘re so important.
So, do you think your turnovers were more bad luck or bad execution, then?
No, that‘s bad execution. I‘m not blaming luck. Shonn‘s was…when a guy gets hit like that, yeah, the ball might come out. I understand that just like if we hit a guy like that we‘ve got a good chance of getting a turnover. Those things don‘t happen that often. But the other ones are all clearly avoidable. They have to be avoided. Rick‘s…if that happens again to Rick, I won‘t be real pleased. Not that I was happy the other day about it, but I understand it. I‘ve seen that before. I‘ve seen veteran quarterbacks fall victim to that. It‘s one of those ones that‘s a little tricky if you haven‘t been through it before. But that experience will help him, hopefully.
You‘ve spent some time in the NFL during draft evaluation. I know you focused on lineup, but I‘m sure you heard stuff about backs. How much does mileage play for guys?
It‘sa good thing or a bad thing. You want a guy who‘s productive as a running back. There are all kinds of styles of backs. But the bottom line is production. Guys that are physical backs, they‘re pretty good. I don‘t think the Giants are really worried about (Brandon) Jacobs right now. But they‘ve had other guys, too. (Tiki) Barber is a totally different player. And I‘ll go back to when I was a kid, I think Earl Campbell was different. Earl Campbell just had some hellacious (hits). I haven't see that yet (with Greene). I don't think anybody would be too concerned about it.
A guy like (Javon) Ringer carrying like 38 times a game Are you surprised?
Yeah, that‘s amazing. That‘s a real tribute to him and his conditioning and his mental toughness. That‘s a full load. That‘s unbelievable.
Do you see Shonn doing that?
We‘ll see. I don‘t know. If you‘re winning, it‘s not a bad thing. That‘s a high number. When you get in those high numbers, then I think (the NFL Draft) discussion is pertinent then. But I think up to 30, 28-30, that‘s realistic.
You had Fred (Russell). He was close. I don‘t think he was a consistent 30-guy.
The big thing with him, you know, he ended up getting shorter. (laughter) We wore him out.
You still have your sense of humor.
Hell, yeah. We‘re not dead yet, right?
We talk a bit about finishing games on Saturday and you brought up turnovers and negative yardage plays. Do you think the end result is points off of the board?
Oh yeah, certainly. Turnovers especially. Again, just look at the first series in each half. Our performance hurt us. We moved it into the red zone and then turned it over. We lost an opportunity for points, you‘d like to think. Then, we just let them go down the field uncontested on the first drive of the second half. So, you could say we lost the game in those two possessions. Its like anything, you can always look back at a lot of different things. The other thing that I would point out to you is that we basically lost three offensive possessions the other day. We had two special teams turnovers and one on the first play of a series. SO, that‘s three times that we took ourselves out of a chance to score. That‘s just huge. Nobody is good enough to give up three possessions, outside of Michigan.\i>
You hear about the term "Finish". If you could a number to it it would be points off the board do to turnovers.
From Saturday, about the best statistic I can give you, the most telling one, would be just the fact that we lost three offensive possessions. We had three opportunities for possessions and ran one play. How the heck are you going to win a game doing that?
Their average starting field position was the Iowa 35. You haven‘t been close to that.
Yeah, that would be nice to have. Nobody has been that nice to us. The United Way and Santa Claus would be very proud of us. We‘re definitely in the spirit of giving. We‘re on the all-Santa Team right now.
Brian (Ferentz) was in town over the weekend. He gave you his one-liners.
Nah, I didn‘t even talk to him.
Can you talk a little bit about mental conditioning. When you bring in players, you try to teach them your method; get them in line with what you want done. How do you do that?
It gets back to that leadership and the character of your team. I think the best chance you have is if your culture is good. If your older guys are really doing things well. Again, we‘re only with players so much. It‘s what‘s established. The older guys carry a real responsibility there.
There‘s the phrase, "Just control the things that you can control." Is that something you preach and then when they become leaders for them to expand upon that?
Yeah, you would hope that your older players have bought into that and then re-enforcing those lessons. But if you're going to be involved in sports, and really being a student is no different, to excel you have to have a singleness of purpose. You have to be able to develop that mindset. If you're going to be successful in anything, you have to understand there's going to be good days and bad days. You're going to experience success and you're going to experience failure. You better get up the next day and just start over again no matter what it is that went on yesterday. If you're patting yourself on the back or sitting there drooping like droopy dog, your competition is going to move right by you. To be good at anything, you have to have some mental toughness and be able to focus on what it is you're trying to get accomplished.