Narduzzi Expects to Continue the Pressure

Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi talked with the media on Wednesday about this weeks game against Michigan.

For the past three seasons Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi has the winning touch when it comes to beating Michigan. While each game has been hard fought battles between the longtime rivals, Narduzzi knows this year things will be a little different when it comes to putting together a game plan to beat the Wolverines.

Will the Spartans attack Michigan the same as they did a year ago?

"No, because it's a combination," said Narduzzi. "Really, you're facing two different offenses (Michigan and San Diego State from last year). They're getting quite a bit of two tight end, two back sets; they'll create a shotgun set and a spread formation out of that, so they're doing a little bit of everything. They do a nice job."

While the Wolverines were known for their spread option attack under Rich Rodriguez's, they also showed the willingness to go vertical. Under new head coach Brady Hoke have the Wolverines added more down field passing to their offense?

"They went down the field last year, too," continued Narduzzi. "They used to go four verticals a ton, Coach Rodriguez's favorite package is to really go four verticals; they're not doing quite as much as that, but they're going down the field a little bit more on play-action pass, which is not what they used to do. But they are going down field. It's run, run, run - suck up on the run, and then throw it over your head. They do a good job of mixing it up.

"They have a lot more play-action pass than they've had in the past. We have to stop the run. Their quarterback is a runner, so you have to get an extra guy there somehow, and if you get him there, you could lose someplace else. That's why they're rushing and throwing for as many yards as they are."

One thing that does remain the same with the Wolverines is quarterback Denard Robinson. Known for his running skills, how does Narduzzi see the offensive threat as a passer in this new offense?

"They're using him the same way they have," said Narduzzi. "What their offense is, is a combination of Michigan's last year and what they did at San Diego State, from all the tape we've watched. We watched about every one of their games last year. Slowly, it seems like they're bringing some of the San Diego stuff back. So, I think they're just slowly integrating both offenses. Denard's carrying the ball a lot more than 14 times a game. Their staff said earlier in the year they were only going to do 14 times, so we'll see if we can limit him to that and make them hold up to their word on that.

"I think he's passing better; he's throwing it down there, and they're catching it."

Last year the Spartans credited the scout team play in helping them beat the Wolverines. Can the same be said this year?

"We sure have," Narduzzi said. "Mitchell White is playing corner, and when he's not in at corner, he's playing quarterback. So is Tony Lippett. I feel bad for Tony, he's playing offense, he's playing defense and he's playing scout quarterback. But he did such a great job a year ago, our kids trust in that and they're like `Coach, we need Tony Lippett.' They truly believe he was a key to the success a year ago and he will continue to do that."

With the Wolverines offense having several plays with the ball being just thrown up in the air, have the Spartans been working on jump balls?

"No doubt about it," said Narduzzi. "We will work on it every day this week. That will be one of our first individual drills is to work deep balls and jump balls. It comes down to who's going to make a play on the ball. Whether they're better or worse or what we were doing that for, everyone can second-guess. The ball's going to go up and there's usually going to be one guy way down there and we're going to have one guy down there trying to make a play on that ball. Whoever makes that play, like (Darqueze) Dennard did against Ohio State, that's going to happen - you're going to get in those one-on-one situations and we have to make a play."

Coming off an impressive defensive performance where the Spartans blitzed Ohio State, does Narduzzi expect his defense to continue that style of performance against Michigan?

"I don't think anything changes," said Narduzzi. "We had blitz success, we had four-man pressure success against them (Ohio State). I think you go with your game plan and do what you want to do. I think it's a little bit of everything. I don't think you can blitz every down because then they're going to mix it up with a screen or something else, or throw it deep and beat you. I think you just have to mix it up; it's got to be a good mixture of everything."

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