Question: All the offensive guys have said they have voted for Denard (Robinson) for team MVP. How about the defensive side of the ball?
Ryan Van Bergen: "I voted for Mr. Shoelaces as well. He obviously deserved it. He broke all the records and when he was healthy, he was unstoppable. Unfortunately some injuries came to him mid season and they kind of were nagging on him the rest of the season and I would say that he did not play up to his potential at the end of the season just because of the injuries and he wasn't able to showcase how really spectacular that he can be and he is obviously the most explosive player on the field when he was out there."
Question: Was there anybody that would have drawn a vote from you otherwise?
Ryan Van Bergen: "We had some playmakers at receiver that helped us out a lot. We had Junior Hemingway make some big catches in some big games, the Indiana and the Illinois game. He made some fantastic catches but I think you have to base a decision like that overall play throughout the season. Roy (Roundtree) had some great games. He had a great Illinois game and a couple of other games where he was fantastic. For the most part, if we needed a play made, Denard was the guy who got the ball in his hands and was going to make it happen."
Question: Using some four man front, how did you think that worked?
Ryan Van Bergen: "I thought it worked real well. There has been criticisms here and there about our defense for a while, the fronts and other things like that. I think the four man front, we completely thwarted them that first half. They had 28 yards rushing on 14 attempts or something like that. I thought it was working extremely well and I think it is probably something that we're going to take a look at going into this game. Obviously, I wouldn't have an idea on that, but I would think because of the results we have that it would be something that we consider."
Question: You grew up in Michigan. Are you a hockey fan? Are you going to be there on Saturday?
Ryan Van Bergen: "I can't wait for Saturday actually. Not only am I a Michigan fan, but also I used to really enjoy hockey. I didn't use to watch Michigan. I watched Red Wings versus the Colorado Avalanche back when Patrick Roy when they got in the fight at center ice. I do not know what year that was '96 or '97. Maybe I don't know. I used to watch…man when the Avalanche played the Red Wings I was glued to the TV with my dad. I'm excited. I've never been in the student at Michigan before, but I'll be in the student section at the Big House watching a hockey game, freezing but I'm going to be all about it. It is going to be exciting."
Question: People talking about Big Ten versus SEC, any particular feelings about that? Do you think the SEC is the conference to beat in a lot of respects?
Ryan Van Bergen: "I don't know if they are the conference to beat, but they are definitely the conference that I would want to play against. If you want to really test yourself, you play a team in the SEC or a play a team in the Big Ten or the Big 12 and PAC10, but I think SEC and Big 10. I don't know what the statistics are right now, so I couldn't say for a fact, but I think we got the most teams in the top rankings. I think an SEC versus Big Ten is a prominent bowl game regardless of when it's played. Luckily, we're playing in January. If you want a real showdown then the Big Ten versus SEC is where it is at."
Question: You have experience a bowl game with the 2008 bowl game from the 2007 season. What do you tell the guy, as this is going to be the first big test for you but that psyche that you need to have, five weeks between games, to go and get ready for a game after that long of a layoff.
Ryan Van Bergen: "The big thing is kind of taking it in stride. No one needs to go in today and go in and watch three hours of Mississippi State film. That would be a mistake. The first thing you have to do is focus on yourself. If you're injured, heal your injuries that's step one and get recovered. Get in shape, because none of us are in good enough shape right now. Everybody has to hit the weight room and take it seriously and take their conditioning seriously, voluntarily or not. We have then have to focus on your fundamentals, because after three weeks off of football, your fundamentals go out the window and you got to focus on that. Then you're sitting there at four weeks and now it is time to start really game planning and focusing on my opponent rather than myself. But the focus has to be on yourself for the first three to four weeks I think. I think that is the only way to go about it. If you focus on your opponent that long, you are just going to overlook self improvement that you can make. It is a big window at times."
Question: The players sense that they could be playing for coach's job in this game whether you win or lose this one?
Ryan Van Bergen: "I think it could have probably crept into some guy's minds. It is not how I feel personally. With all the media stuff swirling around right now, it would be hard not to notice something. On ESPN, the ticker or whatever. There is something out there that some guy on campus is going to ask you. If you guys lose are you going to lose your coach. Personally, I'm all in support of Coach Rodriguez and everything he does. Being around the program for as long as I have, I'm really excited to be going back to a bowl game. Some of the results that we've gotten this year, five losses is not exactly what we wanted, but we played against some BCS caliber, some guys that are going to do some big things, coming into the bowel season. I would like to say that I want to be with Coach Rodriguez for the rest of my career. If I'm playing for him, if that is the case, then I'm going to play just as hard as if I was just playing for my teammates. I'm hoping that it is not based off of a bowl game."
Question: Pretty much every player says what you just said and then fans, a lot of them are ready for him to be gone yesterday. What is it specifically that you are so drawn to about him?
Ryan Van Bergen: "For me personally, I'm from a small town, Whitehall, Michigan and Coach Rodriguez is from a small town. Sometimes all people see is stuff that goes on camera that goes out to television sets. You cannot understand what happens over at Schembechler Hall when nobody is there. Coach Rodriguez is from what I understand him to be is a hard working man that cares a lot about us. He cares about his players as much as any coach cares about his player and he cares about the success of us. That's what we like about him and why we embrace is because we can see why we have to work so hard because he is working just as hard noticeably. Go see him on the Stairmaster at 6 a.m. and you'll understand what I'm talking about. He's just a great guy and when you recognize somebody who has those leadership qualities, it is somebody you are going to want to follow and I think the whole team takes up that attitude."
VanBergen of course had more to say after the Bust.
VanBergen on 4-man Front; Coach Rod, More
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