Does the style of the Michigan State offense make it easier to prepare for?"Well, like I said probably a couple weeks ago, it's not whether it's easier or not, it's just a different mindset. You know, each and every week provides different challenges and this is a different one because they don't spread it out 80 percent of the time like the previous teams that we played do. This team is based on running the ball more quote/unquote traditional sets."
Do you have to get your players in a more physical mindset for this type of offense?"First of all, no matter who we play or what style we're playing, we're coming out and going to be physical. Okay? So that's off the bat. That's how we're going to do it. That's how we're going to approach it. Knowing the challenges and how you have to approach the game, that's where the challenge is for us. But first and foremost, we're going to come out and be physical. No matter who we are playing, our number one goal is to stop the run whether it's the San Diego State spread or the Michigan spread or Michigan State and they line up in two tight-ends and two backs and one tight-end. That's what we're coming out to do."
Could you evaluate the way you played the run last week?"We played better in the second half. At the same time there were runs in there that we thought as a staff and as a team that we should have gotten stopped but we didn't. The guys did rally and we solved some of those issues. You would like for those things to be fixed on the practice field."
How do you become a better tackling team from one week to the next?"You come to balance and you realize what got you in trouble. So if I'm a linebacker and I overran a play, well, I know, ‘Hey, I gotta make sure I stay inside out.' If I'm a safety and I'm coming to fill the alley, I've got to push the ball to my help; those sort of things."
So you go back to the fundamentals?"You go back to fundamentals and your rules and also knowing the type of back you're playing against. Is it a cut-back type running back? Is he a guy that likes to stiff arm? Is he a guy that likes to wait then bounce outside? All those factors come into play and the smarter you are and the more attention you pay to detail, then the better you will be when it comes to Saturday as opposed to just kind of winging it and then when you go out there you say, ‘Hey, where did that move come from?' Okay, so that's the same move that this guy has been doing."
What does Javon Ringer like to do?"Really, he likes to do everything. He is a complete back. If this conversation was at the end of the year, we would probably be talking about him being up for the Heisman probably. He can run inside; he can run outside; he has really good balance; he can carry the ball going either way; a really good cut-back runner. I think he sees the hole very well. It will be a challenge for us, but it is a good one and one that we like. So we'll see."
Do the rules change for the Michigan State offense?"No, they stay the same. Whoever has the ball, go gettum. If the quarterback has it, go get him too. If running backs have it, make them go east and west. So the rules, for the most part, stay the same. So we'll see what happens."
How does the one-on-one in practice help the defense?"We like it because, anytime we get a chance to compete, it helps us because you can use that as a measuring stick to kind of see where you are. If I'm a corner and I get to go against Mike Floyd and Golden (Tate) and some of those guys and Jimmy's throwing the ball; that's good. If I'm a linebacker and I have to take on Ace (Asaph Schwapp), that's always good. You can use it as a measuring stick."
Does that ever happen in the NFL?"Absolutely, because there are no show teams. So what happens is, I'm going up against Terry Glenn and that's how it goes because you service each other."
Can you talk about Kyle McCarthy's evolution in the time that you've been here?"Up until this point, he's the guy that you give him rules and assignments and he tries his best to execute them. He doesn't get all of the flash and the flare and everybody isn't hollering his name, but at the end of the day when you look at the film and the stat sheets, he's doing his job. He's helping the defense. Sometimes a lot of people miss that. He's a guy for the past two weeks and even toward the end of last year, he was a reliable guy. That's the biggest compliment you can get if your teammates can count on and rely upon you and what you're doing. So that's a good thing."
What is he like on the field? Quiet? Emotional?"He talks when he needs to. When he lines you up, he gives you the business. He's smart; he knows his keys and alerts for the most part. He's not Jim Thorpe but at the same time, he'll make some plays when it is there. Like I said, I don't want to go bragging on him because I got my lunchbox back there, you know what I mean? So we'll kind of hold off on that one, but up to this point, he has done what we've asked him to do."
Do David Bruton and Kyle McCarthy have different personalities on the field?"Off the field, they're different. On the field, they're relatively the same, I would think. They just kind of go about doing their business. They make the calls they need to make and they get excited when they do. Off the field, I would say they're different but on the field, if you changed the numbers, you wouldn't be able to tell them apart, I don't think."
How are they different off the field?"Kyle is probably a little more serious; probably doesn't say as much at least when he's around me. That might be a coaching thing too (laughing). He doesn't say as much as David does, I don't think."
With them being different, does that help with chemistry?"No, I don't think so because I've seen apples and oranges coincide and get along great. I think the thing with those guys is, they don't care who gets the credit. They really don't. And that's a good thing. They don't get jealous of each other. They really don't care who makes the plays. I think they genuinely want the other guy to do well and that's always a good thing. The world is full of selfish people, so to be around guys that aren't selfish is like a breath of fresh air. I think everybody can learn something from that."
Is it the style of defense that is responsible for them having so many tackles?"Maybe, honestly I haven't really thought about it because what we do is try to put guys in position to make plays, and we really don't care about who is doing it. We're just trying to get the job done. So that might be a factor."
Does it matter that they like each other?"It helps; it helps, but that's not a prerequisite, but it always helps. When you like the guy next to you, you work better with him. I can not like you and still work with you, but if I like you, it's that much better because we can spend a lot of time together as opposed to a little. It's not like you're pulling teeth. I know those guys spend time together. So that's a good thing."
How can you improve on the sack production?"Well, just make sure we're hitting the right gaps. Some of that is opportunity. At the end of the day, the thing that really matters is, are we getting off the field and are we winning the game. That's what matters. I would love to have 30 sacks right now but if I could trade two wins for one sack, then I'm happy. Just as long as we're getting off the field on third down and things aren't getting out of hand, that's a good thing.'
What does this signal mean (forefinger circling beside head)?"It's a signal and we use it as a reminder sometimes. Say if a guy doesn't do something, I might do that signal for a whole period so when he sees it, hopefully it's in his mind. Like, ‘Oh, let me remember that call, let me remember that call, let me remember that call.' I just do different things like that to try to get guys to remember what we're doing here."
Would you have liked to have played in this defense?"Yep, yep, because I would have been flying around and I'd be coming up and smacking people in the mouth and I'd be talking smack doing it. Yep, I sure would have."