Michigan State Athletics

What Michigan State co-defensive coordinator Mike Tressel had to say about Notre Dame and more.

How much will Ed Davis play against Notre Dame on Saturday. What have the Spartans defense been doing to prep for the Irish? That and more answered in the following quote book with Michigan State co-defensive coordinator Mike Tressel.

On the bye week…

“You expect your most improvement from Week 1 to Week 2. You talk to guys leading into Week 1 on what they need to improve upon, but at that point it is sort of all theoretical. They haven’t seen it on film and sometimes they don’t even really believe you. Now they have seen it on film. We know what they need to get better at and they had two weeks. So, hopefully that jump from Week 1 to Week 2 is even bigger.”

On if he is unsure of the jump they made due to not having a game…

“As coaches, we talk about, ‘You need to improve on this. You need to improve on that.’ But, when you’re going against a scout team and you don’t have actual game film to back it up where they see themselves on live game film, then its theoretical, like I said.”

On how he is going to work all of the linebackers in…

“Probably the guys that played the most last week will play the most this week and you’ll get a chance to work those guys in. (Jon) Reschke, he’s fine. He’s ready to go. He had a couple of weeks off of football, Ed (Davis) has had a year off of football. He probably will get worked in a little bit slower, but they are going to play. Both of those guys will play.”

On if he enjoyed the bye week and being able to get recruiting done…

“Do I enjoy it? No, I would rather play football. But, we do it. I hit the road. I hit Jacksonville, I hit Atlanta, I hit Columbus, so we were running around. We saw some guys practice. It was good in that regard. We got to, especially with our younger guys like a (DL) Raequan Williams, I really think he has gotten a lot better in two weeks since the first game because he has his first ever game film to look at and realize what he can work on. We got to have a couple of pure fundamental practices in that bye week.”

On if he looks at the linebackers like the running back situation in terms of going with the hot hand…

“I had not thought of it that way, but yes you can. There is no doubt about it. If someone is hot, for example rushing the passer. That stands out. You notice things and we would get him in there and blitz him a little more. But, when guys are playing good, it has been the tendency to leave them in there.”

On if Ed Davis is trusting his knee or if that will take time…

“Bottom line is, he is now officially cleared to play and all of the sudden there is a real light at the end of the tunnel. He can see it. He can taste it. It’s not just talk anymore. So, all of the sudden it feels better because he can really play.”

On if Davis was working with the first or second team before he was cleared to play…

“The next 11. We didn’t ever put him in with the starters purely because we needed this guy officially cleared before we can use those reps. You only have so many reps to get ready the week before a game. So, we weren’t going to do that when he wasn’t cleared yet. He was repping with the twos. He was getting a chance and it’s not like he hasn’t practiced football.”

On how much they have watched the tape vs. Notre Dame from 2013…

“We’ve watched ’10, ’11, ’12, ’13, the Pitt game. Everything you can think of that can give us a feel. So, we have watched them all.”

On how he coaches the secondary to be prepared for the deep ball threat…

“First of all, you have to anticipate. You have to know that it’s going to happen. And quite honestly, if some of the underneath stuff happens, those aren’t 20-yard plays or automatic first downs on a pass interference. We are anticipating it. We will try and get them in some better situations without talking about how doing that. We know that is what is going to happen.”

On how critical it is to have LB Byron Bullough ready to step in and play…

“It is important. (LB) Shane Jones is good to go now, too. Both of those guys have been rolling with the twos at the Mike backer and are very able and knowledgeable in our defense.”

On what he has seen out of Byron Bullough…

“I think he knows our defense inside and out now and is real confident with it, too. That’s the thing, he probably knew it a year ago, but wasn’t as confident that he knew it. So, the people around him feel it when you’re confident and they are feeling confident right now.”

On how much they respect the running ability of Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer…

“He’s a great player. I recruited him. I really like him. We have a relationship. He has an NFL arm and you’ve seen the film. You know he can run the ball and he’s athletic and he’s a big ol’ body. He really won’t go down easy. But, he has the ability that if his read is not there, he can keep the play alive like a (Ben) Roethlisberger or a (Andrew) Luck. Those are big bodies that you probably don’t run 4.4 40s, but they keep gaining yards and keep plays alive.”

On how he combats Notre Dame’s ability to get defenses to show what they are going to run…

“A couple of different ways. The one option is to look the same every snap. Line up in our press cover two shell, same alignments every single snap. That is option one. Option two is show them with your left and bring them your right type of thing. We are practicing both of those, but certainly when it is third down and the quarterback goes through his entire cadence and gives you the foot, you think the ball is going to be snapped. And then he looks to the sidelines and things get difficult. So, you have to make decisions of what you are going to do then.”

On what LB Andrew Dowell learned from film and corrected in the last few weeks…

“Like I mentioned with Raequan, it was his first significant snaps. He did, I think, play better as the day went on with some fundamental things that maybe you wouldn’t notice as not one of the coaches watching. Where average at the beginning, once he made that interception, he started making some plays and he felt more and more comfortable. It’ll be more he is at home, it is not a shock, even though we are at Notre Dame and the fans will be crazy and it is an away game and all of that. I think for him, the first game being his first real action was more significant.”

On if there was any concern with the pass rush in the first game…

“We want to pass rush better. We need to find ways on 1st-and-10 type of situations when you know you have to stop the run and still get some pass rush. And we didn’t move the defensive line or blitz as much as we have sometimes historically, but we are going to find ways to get pressure on Kizer. We have to.”

On how he gets CB Darian Hicks prepared for getting thrown at…

“I think he’s ready. I think he knows this year that the ball is going to be thrown up. Even if he makes plays, it is going to continue to be thrown up. And we think he did a good job. More importantly, he thinks he did a good job. When you look at those calls, we feel good about where he was and what he did. And like I said, he also does. So, things feel good right now.”

On what freshmen we might see this weekend on the defensive side of the ball…

“There is a chance with the defensive front you are going to see some more guys. (DL Mike) Panasiuk played a little, but didn’t play a bunch. (DE) Josh King, (DE) Auston Robertson, those guys might get some action against Notre Dame as their first one.”

On how it is for him having ‘shiny toys’ in the new freshmen and not being able to unwrap them…

“There is no doubt about it. It is difficult, because you might have some guys that know it better. And then you have new guys where their upside is really big, but there is going to be some growing pains. When someone has a huge upside, yeah you want to use them, but you have to time it right.”

On how the MSU program is similar to what he and head coach Mark Dantonio did at Cincinnati…

“The bottom line is, a Dantonio program is what it is. It is built on toughness. It is built on relationships. It is built on doing things the right way. In those regards, that is what we tried to do at Cincinnati and that is what we have tried to do here and the philosophy has not changed. That is the biggest similarity.”

On what he has seen from the Notre Dame running backs…

“They have good running backs, there is no doubt. And their offensive line is good as well. They run the ball well to the point where you have to commit to stopping the run. Then they hit big plays. You can watch probably pre-snap, when you are watching the Texas film, just based on how their defense was deployed, if they had any chance to stop the run. There were times where Texas had to commit to stopping the pass and that zone is popping for 10 yards. Then they had to move everybody up there to stop the run and the opposite happens. They certainly run the ball well enough that people are like, ‘Wow, we have to get some people in the box here.’”


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