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On the intensity of the rivalry with Michigan State:
"I think the nature of a great rivalry, which certainly this is, matches with the type of intensity because in this particular case you've got a state that we're only 45 minutes apart. And the fan base is vociferous, passionate, and that has an impact on the players, the coaches, and of course the history and tradition of the rivalry goes back, this Paul Bunyan Trophy started in 1953, so it's been around a long time, so there's a lot to play for."
On Mark Dantonio:
"I've been in a couple of Big Ten meetings with him and coached against him down through the years, but other than that, in terms of watching his career... when he coached up there at Michigan State, assistant coach at Ohio State, coordinated the defense, so I know a lot about him from a coaching standpoint."
On the difference between this year's and last year's Michigan State team:
"I don't want to get into comparing teams. I think he has his own philosophy. He's brought a different approach from an offensive and a defensive standpoint. You know, if you look at their offense, there's a dramatic change, a team that is committed to the running game, to establishing that as a part of who they are and what they want to do. And defensively, its a very, very aggressive approach to the game."
On the improvement defensive line:
"We have some young guys that really grew up. I think Brandon Graham gets better as we go. I think last Saturday he and Terrance Taylor together probably had their best game. They've really come on. I think Will Johnson is having a solid year. He's an all-out guy, a guy that's developed into an excellent leader, and a guy that's very tough physically and mentally. Of course, Tim Jamison has had some great games. So I think that's probably an area where we are beginning to play like we had hoped we would, so we're counting on that to continue."
On how the defensive line has affected the secondary:
"I think our secondary has been very, very consistent here in the last seven games. We've been good in terms of big plays. I think we've leveraged the football, and I think in terms of the way we've played the first half, it almost always goes back to a team game. What kind of pressure are you having? Is the quarterback breaking contain? Is he standing back there with a lot of time to throw the football? If he is, then there's not a secondary out there that's going to look very good. I think that's been part of our ability to play better is because we have had pretty good pressure, and of course the test is out there this week and in the weeks ahead."
On Donovan Warren:
"I think Donovan Warren has gotten better every week. I think he's gained confidence. He's a guy that came in with real passion, I mean, just in the way he played in training camp it was pretty obvious from his first practices that he wasn't intimidated by any of our receivers. I think he showed a competitiveness that is necessary, particularly at that position. And really what we had to find out is if he was mentally strong or mentally tough enough to handle things when they didn't go well. He's gained experience. I think he's going to be something special here if he continues to improve, continues to work hard."
On Javon Ringer:
"I think Ringer is a great back. I think he's very strong, has great feet and great acceleration. He's an explosive back. He's very tough and is a good pass receiver. He's legitimate guy. He's had a great career, he's having a great year, and he's established himself without a question as one of the best backs in the country."
On if he takes any satisfaction in the seven game win streak:
"I think satisfaction comes on a day-to-day basis, and the season comes on in terms of -- satisfaction of the season is determined at the end of the season. So I don't think you can ever in anything be satisfied on a personal basis. I think you're always getting better or you're getting worse. So the goal is to work every day to have great passion for what you're doing, a great work ethic, a great attitude. If you can do those things, then you're going to get better, and then at the end of the day you can be satisfied. But it's a long day. I think that's the key, to continue to try to get better, to try to improve. And as a team we've made a lot of improvements, but sometimes there's never a game where you come out of it and say we don't have anything we can improve on, because the truth is that's what the competition does. So we're trying to improve on a daily basis."
On Michigan running game:
"I think in the last two weeks we've made some improvements from the standpoints of the guy who replaced Mike Hart. I think Carlos Brown has really gained some confidence because I thought he played extremely well against Illinois under the circumstances, and I thought he was, with the exception of the turnover where he had the ball in the wrong arm, I thought he was very good on Saturday. Brandon Minor, the guy that I've been waiting on, I really liked what I saw on Saturday. He's a strong, powerful guy who can run. In terms of being satisfied, I'm never satisfied. Have we made progress? I think absolutely."
On Jake Long and how linemen are never considered for the Heisman Trophy:
"I think the technology today with the constant replay of exciting plays, I think takes it out of the hands of a guy who's not in some way going to handle the football. I'll say this about Jake Long, any discussion of the best football players in this country, if it doesn't include Jake Long, then I think there's something missing from that discussion."
On Michigan State having countdown to Michigan game clocks:
"Well, I can remember checking my watch to make sure I knew what time it was. You know, I think the only clock I'm concerned with is mine."
On what his team has learned over the past seven games:
"I think they have character. I think they've proven that they have some resilience, and I think we have, without question, had some wonderful leadership from our seniors, our captains and our coaches. I think all of those guys, they have stood up and proven they can take a punch and to get up and fight again."
On running behind Jake Long:
"I think our offense the misunderstanding in the zone scheme is that the football, it's running to daylight. And Carlos Brown on Saturday started the run off the left tackle. He ended up coming behind the center over the right guard, right tackle. You know, regardless of where a play starts behind any particular lineman, in almost every play we have there's a possibility, depending on where the hole is, that the back will end up running away from where he started. But certainly I think if you took a 50-play highlight of Jake Long this year, it would compare and educate people in a way that they could see what a great offensive lineman he is and how he can impact the game."
On playing in Spartan Stadium:
"You know as a coach if you've played in that game before, you know as a player that it's I'm sure it's the same when they come here. As a competitor, it's a fun environment to go into because the fans are passionate and it's going to be an environment where the adrenaline is flowing, and that's really what competition is all about. On the other hand, you also know that you have to be able to have the poise and the composure that it takes to be successful in that kind of environment, and I think that's probably the greatest concern any time you go on the road. You have to be able to deal with a lot of things that you don't have to deal with at home, and that's part of the test. It's going to be there whether you want it or not, whether you like it or not."
On if Ryan Mallett makes him more nervous than the average freshmen:
"I think in the last week he's really made some great strides. He proved some things on Saturday, but I think he'll learn, and I hope he understands now but he probably doesn't, that being the quarterback here, you're going to learn things until the day you leave here because that's the nature of the position. He's had the great benefit of playing so much in so many different situations this season, on the road, at home, in big games, and he's had some success, he's made some mistakes. But if you look forward, you know that he's had that great benefit of getting some experience that most freshmen do not get. And he's a different personality than I've had, and that's made for some interesting conversations. But I think that's fun, too, because everybody is different. He brings a lot of energy, he's an emotional guy, and yet on Saturday afternoon when things were really going bad, I liked the way he handled himself after the fumble and went back for a touchdown."
On Ryan Mallett controlling his emotions:
"I think he has to do it. I think as a coach what I try to do is help him understand that this is not -- this is a higher level. The expectation here is much greater than anything you've had, and the competition is much greater than anything you've had. And therefore you're going to have to deal with some frustrations. You're going to have to deal with some things that aren't going your way, and that's what you've got to learn.And the quicker you learn that so that you don't allow frustration to take over -- because we're all going to get frustrated in everything we do, but we can't allow the frustration to dictate our thoughts. We've got to maintain the composure that will enable us to be successful. I think that's one of his challenges. There's no doubt in my mind that he will be able to handle that, but if you're an emotional guy you're not going to change. Your personality is not going to change. You don't want that to change."
On preparing for the game:
"I think as a coach I love the game because I know that every guy that goes into that game on Saturday is going to be playing his best. So as a coach there's a lot of things you don't have to worry about, all the things that sometimes you have to deal with during the course of the season. I mean, here we're in the tenth game of the season. There are a lot of things that at this stage of the season can happen to you, so you don't have to worry about a team being motivated because of the nature of the rivalry. But on the other hand, it's about being prepared, knowing what your role is and being able to execute it on Saturday. So it still comes back to the preparation that you put into it."
On if there is a resemblance between Will Johnson and the Paul Bunyan Trophy:
"I don't see that, no (laughing). Will doesn't have a beard. I'll tell you, Will is a lot tougher than Paul Bunyan was and smarter. I shouldn't say that because I didn't know Paul Bunyan. Did any of you know him?"
On why Michigan and Michigan State play for the Paul Bunyan Trophy:
"I have no idea, and I've never researched that, and I don't think I will."
On the 3:30 kick:
" I love them, 3:30, 12:30, 8:00, it doesn't matter. I think obviously all those things, they add to it. I mean, as a player certainly you know, and I think both teams have kids from all over the country so they know kind of their families can't get here, that their families and friends are going to be watching, so I think that's part of the excitement."
On keeping the players from getting too keyed up for the game:
"I talked about poise. That's part of any game, and I think every coach knows those issues. But sometimes the intensity of it, kids are going to make mistakes. That's fundamental. Part of it is being able to overcome the mistakes. In a game like this, you're going to make mistakes, and you're going to have to overcome those if you want to be successful. As far as all the other things, you know, I think a lot of the stories get embellished as time goes by. They get embellished."
On the 100-year rivalry with Michigan State:
"I have a lot of people that I know and that I have good friendships with, that coach up there, that have coached up there or that went to school there. I think its one day a year where we all come together and compete in a great game that catches everybody's enthusiasm because of the emotional pull that these two great schools have on the people who cheer for them. So it's exciting. I'll be able to look back on some great memories in that series. But in the end I think the thing you gain an appreciation for is the competition. That day is special, and as long as they play this game, it always will be. I think it's something that as a state we can be proud of, and everybody will have a good time."
On if can say that Henne & Hart are making progress:
"Can I or would I? No. Yeah, I have said from day one that the nature is that daily they're getting better. So everything I say is interpreted one way or the other, so I feel like its better I don't say anything. I think they're both much better than they were, and yet until we get on that practice field this week, I can't tell you, and as soon as I know I would call you. But you all have unlisted numbers."