Coach Latina Transcript

Offensive Line Coach John Latina met with the media after Tuesday's practice as the team prepares to go against Michigan State on Saturday.

Well, John, obviously you're never satisfied but you have to be somewhat pleased that you are making significant progress when you are averaging about four yards a carry against a team who was giving up about one yard a carry.

"I thought our kids played hard. There was some times they did good things and there was some times they did some things I'm not real fond of. I thought our tight-ends blocked and our receivers were doing a good job. Those are team things and I've always believed that. Our running backs were running hard and we utilized more than one running back so they were fresh, and I think there were a lot of things that go into that."

Talk about Mike Turkovich and his transformation from last year being a guard. He was a little inconsistent last year but seems more consistent as a left tackle this year.

"I've been really, really pleased with Mike. We moved him to guard because I thought he was going to struggle out there at tackle. We played him at guard and then moved him back to tackle to give him another shot. He has played really well. He obviously won that thing in fall camp because he has played consistent. I like the fact that he is a veteran player and he is playing very consistent and he is a tough kid, so I've been pleased with him."

What went into that? Was it maturity or something that he did in the off-season? Was it a gradual thing that you saw?

"I think maturity was the big thing. Sometimes guys realize they are getting late in their careers and they press a little bit more and they push themselves a little bit more. He finally got a chance to play an awful lot last year. I think anytime you get experience, you expect guys to come back and play better the next year. I think he's typical of that formula. I think it's the maturity and experience that he gained last year."

Was it not having experience why you moved him inside in the first place?

"I moved him inside because I thought he was better suited for the inside. In hindsight he has proven me wrong. I think he's better suited outside and that's why he's back out there. I just felt he was better suited inside because he's a tough guy and a physical guy and you play against bigger guys inside than you do at the edge. He has proven me wrong on that and has played well for us so far."

Is it a hard transition moving from one position to another on the line?

"I've always felt like it's been a lot more difficult to transition from guard to tackle than it is from tackle to guard, especially if you have some toughness about you because outside you play against guys who can run 4.5's, 4.6's. You get a variety. You get some big guys that can push on you and bang on you. You get guys that come in on third down and all of a sudden he's a speed guy. It could be a safety that you're blocking that is playing the outside backer position. I have always thought it was easier to transition from outside to inside."

What's made the difference in the pass-protection side of things?

"I said it last year and I've always believed this my whole career, pass protection is a team stat. The receivers being in the right place at the right time; the timing of quarterbacks; the backs protecting; the tight-ends protecting; and obviously the line protecting. I think that is an ultimate team stat and I've always believed that. We had a couple pressures in the game last week that Jimmy (Clausen) did a great job of bailing out and throwing it away and not taking the sack. So I think those are going to happen and the good ones are able to do that at that position. It's something that we have focused on as a team and I think our team has gotten better at that."

How would you evaluate Trevor Robinson in the second half Saturday?

"I thought Trevor did a really nice job for us. Anytime you get a guy going into play for the very first time, especially a true freshman, you don't know how he is going to think even let alone how he is going to play. I thought the kid did a really good job. Obviously, having him in the spring has helped his ability to play earlier. He did a nice job in the spring and came back and had a fall camp so he had an advantage, more so than true freshmen. I thought he did a nice job and the good thing is I didn't notice him. When you go out there as an offensive lineman, you don't want to be noticed. You just want to be out there doing your job, and if you're doing that, nobody notices you and that's a good thing."

Chris Stewart gutted it out in the first half. How badly was he hurt?

"He was a little sore, but he worked hard. And then we threw Trevor in there in the second half and he was doing a good job. So I felt like the right thing to do was to keep a healthy guy in there because, obviously, they are a good defensive front and I thought a fresh, healthier guy would be better. I watched Trevor closely and he was holding his own and doing well so I just kept him in."

That's a hell of a front for a freshman to be breaking in against, too.

"I think the kid has come a long way and he has a bright future."

Have you an example of guys who have transitioned from guard to tackle where it has worked as well as it appears to be working with Turkovich?

"I've had that happen. When you've done it for 30 years, you've had everything happen to you. I've had that happen to me a couple times and, not to diminish what Michael has done, Michael has done a nice job. He has a great deal of confidence right now and he is playing pretty good."

Confidence seems to be high at this time. Is that true?

"The only thing I can relate it to is to maturity and experience. When you have never done it and you are going out there at this level, it's an eye-opening experience. Once you have done it, and you hear quarterbacks talk a lot of times about how the game has slowed down as they get more involved in the playing time, and I think that happens to linemen as well. Everything up in the interior of the offensive line happens instantly. Things are on you and they are moving and everything happens very quickly and you've got to get it to slow down. And the only way to do that is to play games. That's why I always talk about experience. You want experienced guys, if you can, to be out there playing for you. I think it has just finally slowed down for them." Top Stories