Opening Statement: Yeah, it was a little better than the '99 game (49-3 MSU win @ East Lansing), speaking of history. So that part is good. What can I say? We're just thrilled to get the victory. First of all, both teams really competed hard out there. It was a hard fought game. The score is reprsentative of that. What a swing of emotions and crazy last couple of series. Michigan State did a great job coming back and taking the lead, taking it down on the touchdown drive. Then our guys responded. It sort of represented the kind of football team we have and th way we've been playing this year. They refuse to think they're out of it until the end of the game. I just can't say enough about the way our guys and the effort they gave and the way they pulled this thing out. It wasn't pretty out there for a lot of the game. Michigan State had a lot to do with that. But when we had to have it, we had it. I'm just thrilled and very, very proud of our entire football team.
Q: What does it say about Stanzi controlling that drive at the end of that game?
Kirk Ferentz: You know, other than the long pass we hit to Derrell, before the last field goal I think it was, it seemed like that was the first third down we had converted down the field. I don't know if it was, but it felt like it was. We were having a hard time throwing the ball down the field at all, getting anything done. Not much was coming easy anywhere. And for Rick to take the team down the field that last series, it's absolutely outstanding. It was just a great effort on his part. And it was a team effort. That's how we've been playing football all season long. The protection was excellent. The receivers stepped up and did a great job. Rick is a guy who was orchestrating things. I probably learned something tonight. We were out in the rain on Thursday. It was coming down pretty good. We usually finish up with the two-minute (drill), but we put that off. We thought about doing it on Friday. We skipped it on Friday. So, the next two-minute drill we do might be next spring because that's the best two-minute drill we've had. Just a great effort, though. It starts with your quarterback keeping his composure and directing the team.
Q: The (last) play was called by Ken O'Keefe, was it?
KF: It was a great call by Ken. We had fourth down, obviously, and it was just an excellent play call. We cleared out the left side for Marvin. We had been trying to get the fade ball to him a couple of times earlier there. He made the nice break inside and a great grab. So, it was great execution. But certainly a lot of credit (goes) to Coach O'Keefe. What a fantastic call.
Q: Can you talk about the injuries?
KF: It's one thing I've said all season long. If we've had a bright spot this year, we've had a lot of guys step up and do some things, young guys. Both of our running backs are freshmen. With losing Hampton, those guys stepped in. Riley Reiff stepped in when Bulaga was out up in the offensive line. And then (Saturday) we lose Dace Richardson, unfortunately. It looks like that might be for a couple of weeks. It looks like a broken bone. Brett Greenwood comes out. Colin Sandeman. Fortunately we didn't have to get anybody back to return a punt. That could have been little dicey. We're running out of guys back there. Did we lose somebody else? I guess it was those three guys. But,again, our team doesn't seem to be affected. When somebody comes out, somebody comes in and gets the job done. It's a real credit to all of our players.
Q: What was your view of the play where the personal foul was called on (Ware)?
KF: I couldn't see it. All I could see was the hit coming. I couldn't see the exact hit. The only thing I k ow is that's a real point of emphasis, actually, right now. So, that's the only thing I could say about it. I couldn't see it specifically.
Q: The season has developed kind of a few magical moments.
KF: Yeah, we've had a couple. I hope we're not using them all up. One thing for sure, we give the fans their money's worth. We've taken them right down to the wire a couple of times. Again, it's a real credit to our players. They realize there's eb and flow in a game. That's football. Both teams competed. Points were hard to come by until the last two minutes of the ballgame. Neither of us look back on the goal-line situatios, for example. Both of us had great opportunities to come up with touchdowns down there and neither team could but I think that's more of a reflection of the defense that was being played on both sides. Both teams really played good defense tonight.
Q: Can you kind of explain the process on that last play? Was it designed to go to (McNutt)?
KF: It was, yeah. In a perfect world it was and it was a great call by Ken O'Keefe. We cleared out the left side and moved Tony (Moeaki) across the formation and came back to Marvin. We had been trying to get him on a fade ball. It was set up, I guess , for the slant. It was a nice job on the route. Great job coming down with the catch and getting the touchdown.
Q: Did you see the pass interference call and did you expect that to be called?
KF: I couldn't see it, no. I'm glad it was called for obvious reasons.
Q: Did Wegher get dinged up?
KF: He was hurt for a while, yeah. But he came back in and made a great run on the conversion I guess that was a conversion, too. But third-down conversions were tough to come by tonight.
Q: What was it on offense that was difficult tonight?
KF: I think it was Michigan State. They were playing good defense. They do that as a habit. It was down and dirty out there. The yards were tough to come by. We were having a hard time trying to throw the football. Their coverage was real good. They pressured us on third down, especially in that first half. They did a great job of pressuring us. We really couldn't get in any kind of a rhythm, any kind of flow. But when we had to have it, we had it and that's what counts.
Q: What did you think of the way your team played in the last minute and 20 seconds?
KF: That was the highlight, obviously, but the guys have competed and battled all season long. We've been up against it a couple of times. Maybe not quite to this extent. What a swing of emotions. It's not the same as the field goal block against Northern Iowa whn we had to go back out and play another play, but it's gut-wrenching. They had the hook-and-lateral on us and then came back and hit us for a touchdown. As much as anything, that speaks to our players, the character they have. They realized they still had some time. They believed they were going to go out there and score. The guys have the confidence. It starts with the quarterback. Rick, it wasn't going easy for him tonight, but, boy, what a beautiful drive. That's all that counts.
Q: Can you talk about the goal-line stand in the third quarter? They had first and goal from inside the one.
KF: Huge. It was huge. I'm sure they would have said the same had the outcome been different with their stand. Again, I think it was probably more about the defenses than it was the offenses. I'm sure we made some mistakes. I'm sure they'll look back and say they made some mistakes. But both defenses really played aggressive. Goal-line defense down there is probably a credit to both of them I think more than looking at the offenses and saying, "What happened?" One of those deals.
Q: You hear a lot about bend but don't break from this defense. That goal-line stand was them not breaking, wasn't it?
KF: Yeah, we're pretty good at not breaking once we get down in there. There was that one series where I thought we had a chance to change field position. We had the ball down here and they kept knocking out out on us. That's another thing about the game. We were having a hard time on third downs. The other thing is that we just had a real hard time getting field position. I thought we had an opportunity or two, but we really didn't. I guess we got the ball that one time at the 50, came up with a field goal. But, again, I think it was a real good defensive football game. Both teams were playing good defense.
Q: Has 8-0 sunk in?
KF: Nah, I haven't thought too much about it. I haven't had much time to think about it. I think more interesting is the fact that we were underdogs. We come in here underdogs. :ast week we were underdogs. I've got to think it's the first time that a Top 10 team has been an underdog (two weeks in a row). I've got to think. Oh, maybe not.But it was interesting. At the end of the day, it really doesn't matter if you're underdogs or not. We're happy about (8-0), don't get me wrong. But we're half way through the Big Ten schedule. We still have a big month ahead of us. But we're happy tonight. I can assure you that we're happy tonight.
Q: Don't you guys play better in an underdog role?
KF: Yeah, if we can find out a way. I think we might have screwed that up tonight. I'm just guessing. We'll see what happens. But it really doesn't mattter at the end of the day. It still comes down to two teams playing and we'll see what happens.
Q: Maybe these night games shouldn't upset you so much.
KF: Yeah, I'm not as bad with them now. We're kind of getting used to them. It's going to be really screwy the next four weeks because I guess we're done with them. So, we are getting used to them. We got that done. Our next challenge is handling those 11 O'Clock kickoffs. Like I said last week, we're not so good at those.