Kovacs & Robinson Relish Win over MSU

Seniors Jordan Kovacs and Denard Robinson on ending the losing streak to MSU and more.

Question: Denard, what was so vulnerable about your opponent today? They seemed to have been able to contain you, but you were able to overcome it in the end. Can you comment on that?

ROBINSON: They’re a great team. They’re a great defensive team too, and they played great, and you know, toward the end, that’s when we started picking up, and we talk about all week, finishing, so that’s what we did. We finished at the end of the game, and we kept fighting, the whole game, so, never let up.

Question: Can you guys just talk about what it feels like right now? I mean, you guys have been waiting your entire careers for this? What does it feel like?

KOVACS: Pretty good. It feels pretty good, you know? And like Denard said, you have to tip your hat to those guys. Obviously, they were struggling a little bit coming in, but we knew it was going to be a dog fight. That’s what the Michigan/Michigan State game is, year in and year out. They have a tough defense; they pound the ball on offense. You have to tip your hat to them, but like I said, Michigan won today.

Question: The defense the last few weeks. Do you believe this defense is good enough to win the Big Ten?

KOVACS: We believe it, but at the same time, if we play like this every week, we’re going to be in trouble. We have to keep getting better. That’s one of the things that Coach Hoke and Coach Mattison emphasizes, never become complacent, get better every week. And that’s what we plan on doing; that’s what we’re going to do.

Question: Jordan, at the end of the game, you guys got a stop to give the offense a chance to win it. Basically the same situation happened at Notre Dame, but this time you guys got it done. I don’t know if you want to say ‘redemption’, but how would you describe that?

KOVACS: You know, that’s what I was thinking. After we took the field, it’s our opportunity to redeem ourselves and get the offensive ball back. Same situation at Notre Dame, and today we executed. We stopped them when we needed to, and made some big plays, and got the offensive ball back, and let Denard take over.

Question: Drew Dileo... Is there anything you saw on film to get him more involved?

ROBINSON: You know, the reads, I mean, be became open, and that’s when I got him the ball. I mean, he kept getting open, and he’s a tough guy, but to be honest with you, I give credit to the offensive line for giving me the time to throw the ball today, and I think that was the biggest thing, throwing the ball, and getting time to throw the ball, so that was a big factor in the game.

Question: Denard, that last throw to Dileo, you still weren’t in field goal position. Can you kind of walk us through that play, and talk about making that?

ROBINSON: Basically, the offensive line gave me time. I mean, the first throw, I missed Drew, and then he ended up open on the second one, and that’s when I got the ball to him, so thankfully the offensive line and the running backs did a great job blocking, and giving me time to throw the ball.

Question: Jordan, what was your key to success in stopping the run today?

KOVACS: The front seven. You know, I don’t think there’s any secret to it. Those guys are really playing some good ball. They’ve gotten better week in and week out, and defensive back-wise, we just kept the ball inside and in front. We didn’t want to give up that big play, and we didn’t – for the most part I think we did a good job of keeping the run contained, but you have to tip your hat to the front seven, you know, the big guys and the linebackers. I think Coach Mattison had a great scheme, and we just executed.

Question: Jordan, going off of that, you know, last week you guys talked about how defensively you’ve been gaining some confidence this season. Last week the shutout, how did you guys maintain that with a much pressure ?

KOVACS: Yeah, I mean, we’re feeling more and more confident each week, but like I said, we don’t want to become too confident. We don’t want to become complacent, because like I said, get better week in and week out, and our front seven’s improved, and our defensive backs are improving each week, and we just want to keep getting better.

Question: Both of you guys, no one talked about it much this week, but what does it feel like to be seniors to know you’re going to be here without an 0-4 record against MSU?

KOVACS: It feels good. You feel like you got the monkey off your back a little bit. Like I said, there’s no – this is a big game, year in and year out, and you don’t want to go 0-4 in this game, and we won it for those guys that were before us too. You know, they’re part of this team. It wasn’t just for these teammates, it wasn’t for these underclassmen, it was for the program. This program was in desperate need of a win for this game, and I’m glad that we executed and we played well today.

Question: You reached a milestone, Jordan, got your 300 career tackles. What does it mean to get it in this significant of a game?

KOVACS: Not much. To be honest with you, it’s a stat, and I don’t really care about the individual stats. I’m happy that we played well enough defensively to win the game.

Question: The running game was – they were stopping you guys early, seemed like you guys couldn’t do anything, it was going to be a lot like last year. Did you see something change when you guys were able to break up a couple bigger ones later? Or was that something you guys changed?

ROBINSON: I think that was just the line, you know, communicating, and seeing what they needed to block, who they needed to block, and that’s what happened. I think that’s how you win the game, with the guys up front.

Question: Did you guys receive the Paul Bunyan trophy, and where is it right now?

KOVACS: Paul’s back.

ROBINSON: Where he needs to be at.

KOVACS: He’s in the locker room.

Question: You talked about how desperately you needed a win in this series. Did that add to the pressure? Could you kind of sense that?

KOVACS: There’s only pressure if you don’t prepare. You know, we felt confident coming into this game. We felt like we prepared well. We just wanted the win for the seniors, we wanted to win for the guys last year, and we wanted to win for this program, but I wouldn’t say there’s any added pressure. I think that, like I said, we felt confident coming into this game because of the way we prepared.

Question: They had the one good drive to start the second half so what happened on that drive? How did you feel after that?

KOVACS: I think that they opened it up a little bit. They gave us a little bit of play action, some stuff that we didn’t really see in the first half. They kind of hid some big passes, and you know, that had a good game plan, but we schemed back a little bit, and we made our adjustments, and we played well after that. Obviously, there were a couple drives that they had that we’d like back, but at the end of the day, we did enough to win, and we’re happy with that.

Question: I don’t know if you guys know what was going on on the field after you guys went in the locker room, but I almost got trampled out there. Ohio State is the biggest rivalry, but the fans out there, have they ever trampled the field for a Michigan State win that you know, so is this rivalry getting there?

KOVACS: This has always been a big rivalry, you know? I think that you can’t rank one rivalry ahead of the others. This is as big as the others, and we’re just excited to win. Obviously, it’s an intense game, I can tell you that. It was a physical game, and it was a dog fight, and obviously, with the in-state rivalry, the fans get involved, and it’s intense. It’s an intense atmosphere, but I’m glad you didn’t get trampled too bad.

Question: Either or both of you guys, some guys can’t even watch an attempt at a game winning field goal. Did you watch it, and what kind of vantage point? How did you react?

ROBINSON: I didn’t watch, I just took a knee and prayed, and I was just thanking above for giving us this opportunity to play today, and it was a great honor. I didn’t see it until everybody ran on the field, so I just stood there.

KOVACS: Yeah, I was watching, but I was also thinking about the next play, you know, ok, after we make this, what are we going to run defensively. You know, I have all the confidence in the world in Gibby. I think he’s a heck of a kicker, and he’s made some pretty big kicks for us, so I’m proud of him, and I’m proud of this team.

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