Instater Obi: "It's not just another game..."

Grand Rapids native Obi Ezeh goes away from the mic and talks about what the Paul Bunyan rivalry is like for an instate kid ...

Question: Assess your own play so far this far; pretty good, pretty consistent?

Obi Ezeh: "Statistically I guess very consistent, but there are still a lot of things I want to be able to get done better. Obviously I want to alleviate some of those miss tackles. There are a couple of plays that still stick in my mind from last season that I wanted to eliminate. Last year against Notre Dame there was a missed tackle on a running back and this year the same thing kind of happened in the Notre Dame game. None of those plays really lead to big yards, but still kind of leave a sour taste in your mouth. You've got to go ahead and get rid of those plays and assert yourself more on the field."

Question: Have you heard from a lot of people this last year when you go home and students at Michigan State and stuff; has it been a constant thing throughout the year or just right after the game?

Obi Ezeh: "During the season, I don't really try to…I don't keep as much contact with people like that. I'm kind of zeroed in. I kind've got blinders on right now. So I don't really see much past the family and close friends. I'm sure there are some things."

Question: When you went home in the offseason you heard it all?

Obi Ezeh: "Yeah. I heard it all summer. I was supposed to go home this summer more than I have since I've been here and just a lot of Michigan fans who were disappointed and Michigan State fans that were overjoyed. You just don't want to hear it."

Question: Did the neighbors say anything to you?

Obi Ezeh: "The neighbors are always supportive but always ‘Go State' at the end or ‘Go Blue'."

Question: Are you hearing all the talk about the changing of the guard in the state and how they are the program now in the state; do you read all that, hear all that?

Obi Ezeh: "I don't even know why anyone would think that. I haven't read any of that. They had a good season last year. They got some confidence and that's fine."

Question: Is it important for you guys to kind of slow the momentum?

Obi Ezeh: "You don't want to add fuel to the fire. You just want to give them that one last year. You don't want to give them two in a row."

Question: How would you describe the Paul Bunyan Trophy?

Obi Ezeh: "It's big. Our equipment manager Jon Falk, he's a great guy. He's one of Michigan's greatest supporters that I've ever seen. He's nuts about that trophy and he kind of just rubs off on us. I wanted that trophy back before I even saw it. The Paul Bunyan Trophy; those guys are coming in, we've got to get that back. That's all week. He's (Jon Falk) just pacing around. We've got to get the Paul Bunyan Trophy back. So that's just something that might not seem like a big deal, but you remember during the game that you're not just playing for yourself, you're playing for everybody also. Jon Falk has been here for a long time and you're playing for guys like that. That's a lot of tradition that he's been a part of."

Question: How was he coming back without the trophy last year?

Obi Ezeh: "He doesn't really want to talk if we don't win. I'll spare you guys that."

Question: Does it at all warm your heart when you see Michigan State start this way and they were close losses?

Obi Ezeh: "Yeah. Obviously, they're games that they kind of let get away from them. Obviously there record might not be exactly what they are, so you don't want to read too much into that. You want to go about this game like you've gone about every game. You don't want to underestimate any of your opponents."

Question: Do you expect this to be the most physical that you've played so far?

Obi Ezeh: "I can't imagine anybody being more physical than Notre Dame's offensive line was, but yeah, definitely that is their kind of M.O. They want to come in and run the ball, just beat you down, wear you down, wear you down, so I'm definitely prepared for that and we'll be ready to go."

Question: Coach Rodriguez said he is going to try and make this week more focused for you guys than maybe other weeks, not to change too much of the routine, but he wants you guys to be focused because it is a rivalry game and everything; obviously the upperclassman know how to do that, do you think that makes a big impact or do you think that every week is kind of treated kind of the same?

Obi Ezeh: "This year, I feel like every week has been treated…how I explain my focus was just kind of have blinders on, one team, one game at a time. All last week, I probably didn't, if I didn't know our schedule beforehand, I wouldn't have even known that we were playing Michigan State this week. There really is no talk about it until after the game. Then it was like alright, now we need to put our attention on to the next task at hand. It's been like that all year. I think we'll continue to do that and I think that's really good. It allows everybody to kind of be focused on one thing."

Question: Is it difficult to look at this week as just another week?

Obi Ezeh: "It's not just another week obviously. There is a lot riding on it with…the media will put a lot of stuff into it. The fans will put a lot of stuff into it and the rivalry itself puts a lot into it. You kind of treat it that way just to kind of keep yourself the same. You don't really want to explode, your not anxious, just calm, collected and focused – stay focused. You obviously want to have good practices and then when it's time to let loose, you let loose."

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