Where There's Smoke There's Fire
Our interview took place before the firing of Bobby Williams, although we briefly chatted again right when the story of the firing hit the news.
Who (we speculated before the firing) might replace Williams?
"Remember, Glen Mason came close to getting the job last time, when Williams was hired. Urban Meyer, the Bowling Green coach, is hot right now of course -- but he reportedly has said he's not ready to leave Bowling Green. You can bet there will be plenty of applicants."
Focusing back on the U-M/MSU game wrap-up, I asked Mark for the 'bottom line' on the game.
"I feel bad for the MSU kids; they don't want to play any more. It's pretty obvious they gave up. Basically their season is over. Moss' suspension shows that again."
"As I'd mentioned before the game, MSU always falls behind, but they're usually a 2nd half team –- this time didn't bounce back. They were down 21-0 in the first half, and gave up."
I asked, is Michigan that good or is State that bad?
"Well, Michigan played well, and did pretty much all the things we waid they had to to win. But -- State is that bad. They are not a very good team."
"I said we'd pound then, and we did. I knew we'd run the ball, and we had 188 yards rushing, and 440+ yards overall."
"I said we'd posssess the ball – and we had it for 36 minutes. We were able to do whatever we wanted."
"State didn't have anyone who could cover Bennie Joppru or Ronald Bellamy. They benchedtheir starting corners, Suggs and Henry."
"Bellamy had great game, with five catches and three touchdowns (yes three, although he only got credit for two). Joppru had five catches as well."
"I said going in that we'd score … but I admit I didn't think it'd be THAT easy."
"MSU is not very good defensively … they don't have great players on defense. They have average players I'd say."
"And the Michigan defense played angry. It was obvious that they were after redemption for last year -- Marlin Jackson's post game comments reflected that."
"Our defense did a good job. They held State under 100 yard rushings, and under 300 yards overall."
"We knew State would try to throw, and Jackson and everyone did a great job on Rogers. Ernest Shazor did great job in that game, as did Jon Shaw."
"They really miss Smoker . . he's a good player and they missed him on the field. He's of more leader than people thought … if they'd had Smoker I think we'd still have beaten them, but it wouldn't have been nearly as bad. They don't have a quarterback who can win for them right now. Dowdell is inexperienced, and as I said we would, we were able to disguise coverages and pressure him into some bad decisions."
"State rushed for only 59 yards … they have the same O-line as last year, so this just shows how good Duckett was."
The prognosis for State?
"Will State win another game this year? Well they're not a disciplined team.They lost some games early, and with the current makeup of the team, they've packed it in. With Dowdell 0-3 … Alexander may start next game. He's a more fluid runner that Dowdell, and is taller of course. But MSU has been outscored 163-50 in their last four games. They're just not a good team. They play Indiana this week, so we'll find out whether they'll win another game."
"Here's the difference in the programs. Coach Carr is disciplined, a great leader of the team, he has great rapor with the players, he's a great motivator. So Michigan bounces back. And Michigan recruits the type of kid that'll bounce back -- if a kid doesn't want to compete he's not coming to Michigan. Michigan State -- well we don't have to kick Williams now that he's gone."
Talk a little about Michigan -- coming out of this game.
"BJ Askew had a great game at tailback of course -- but he helps the team more as a fullback. He stepped up to the plate running the ball -- but remember MSU didn't have players on defense. For Michigan it's a 'big picture' thing, and they need him more at fullback. Besides, Askew IS a fullback, one of top fullbacks in country. He'll be a fullback in the NFL … and he'll be back at fullback next week."
"Moving Tony Pape to left tackle, and moving Courtney Morgan over ro the right side, was a good thing. That helped, it kept pressure off Navarre."
"There's not a linebacker in the country that can cover Joppru – but we'll find out for sure in a couple weeks against OSU (they have good linebackers)."
"Shazor and Shaw played well, as I said."
"Adam Finley – we'll see him in there (at place kicker) the rest of season. That miss of his was close, he kicked it well. He didn't shank it."
One final question: how will all this effect the Michigan/Michigan State recruiting battle for Lamarr Woodley (Saginaw's great linebacker , and the top high school player in the state)?
"Woodley? We'll see. I'm sure he has seen a tape of the game by now. You know how State will try to sell him -– that he can go to MSU and start for four years."