Pat Fitzgerald was joined by a calvary of players to speak about the 29-19 win over Michigan State.
-Opened talking about how proud he is of the team in a tough atmosphere. Highlighted the resilience and character of the team as key traits in the game. Noted the impressive fight of the team considering injuries and in game e
-On the offensive line: 1-0, buddy, 1-0. Heck of a game. They beat us in some 1 on 1s, but that will get fixed.
-On deep balls: We’ve thrown a bit down the field, doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve caught it. We have to try and make explosive plays. It’s about Clayton and their execution.
-On shifting away from the run game: When you play State they do a great job schematically with their front. Obviously the run game wasn’t successful. We didn’t want to abandon it, but at times we had to go away from it. A lot of one guy breakdowns, one guy getting beat, which is tough. We overcame a lot of turnovers, holding them to three was important.
-On second half play: You guys focus on the negatives, man. We don’t talk about that stuff, we talk about what we need to do and how we are going to do it. It’s really not that difficult, but when we make it hard on ourselves fundamentally, it can get hard.
-On Flynn Nagel: I think he ran some really crisp routes today, I thought Mick [Mccall] did a great job trying to find him space. It is a lot of the ugly routes, the dirty routes, and that is where Flynn succeeds. He did a great job.
-On the cornerback play: We won the game, kinda similar to the o-line question. Guys came in to the game that were out. A lot of adversity in game, in a great environment, crazy start, maybe we’re gonna get delayed. I’m probably sunburned now, the Irish in me, but to do that, really proud of the guys.
-On fighting big plays from Felton Davis III: I wouldn’t say they punched us in the mouth, they executed. It was a great play by a great player. Then we turn the ball over and give them a short field. The throw was perfect, hit him right in the face, but we fought through adversity.
-On how the fourth and one will impact the season: That’s a pretty deep question. I don’t get overly concerned about the rest of the season. Our defense has answered the bell. I would’ve done the same thing if I was Mark [Dantonio]. If you can’t get a yard you probably don’t deserve to win. I liked the way he hedged his bet, pretty aggressive, but I would’ve done the same thing.
-On deep balls: Yeah, we’ve been trying to make explosive plays all year, we’ve had guys open, some bad protection. Today, I thought we just made some great plays, great job by Mick and Dennis Springer, great execution.
-On Thorson: I think he’s a warrior. Everything that he’s overcome this offseason. You can seem him getting stronger this week. He’s driving off that surgical knee, getting closer and closer to 100%. But going on his work ethic and he’s a terrific leader. He’s a senior QB, sometimes everything is on you, but he’s getting stronger and we’re going to need him over the next month and a half in the season.
-On the fourth down stop: It’s a crazy play, fourth and one on the goal line, one of the plays you dream of as a kid. You can’t let the moment get too big for you, need to get the ball back to our offense. That was big for us, we came together as a unit.
-On the pressure: I think as a pass rusher, you’re keying in on the offensive tackles. We had gotten a bunch of reps against these guys, as a group we played really well together. Our goal was to keep Lewerke in the pocket. A couple times he scrambled, but we did a good job.
-On leaving with a win: It’s great to get the losing taste out of your mouth. Travel back home with a win, it’ll be fun, we’re looking forward to the next game, tough opponent in Nebraska. Can’t have any shoulda, woulda, coulda, just gotta go out there and perform.
-On his play: I mean, stats are whatever. Personally, I need to play a lot better. They’re all playing their ass off, Paddy played his ass off. It’s fun to go around and play physical.
-On his big tackle: I mean it was a blown assignment honestly, but I had to get out there and make a play.
-On playing at his father’s alma mater: Probably the most fun moment I’ve ever had in my life. Growing up here, I was always a die hard State fan. Never had a chance to talk to them in the recruiting process, so this was a lot of fun. Great team win.
-On his special teams play translating into defensive success: Well last week against MIchigan, I got my feet wet in the second half. Our defense isn’t complicated, run to the ball, read your keys, just need to do your job. And we rally as a defense, so it isn’t hard to do your job.
-On his strengths: With this whole rehab process with my knee, it’s allowed me to get more mentally tough than I’ve ever been. You get down, gotta respond, throw a pick, gotta respond.
-On success against MSU: They take away our run game pretty well, but they put our guys on islands out there. Our receivers have made plays and our O-line stepped up today. Those guys played really well. Gave me a lot of time and I thought they did a great job.
-On big plays: O-line was giving me so much time, and we won our one on one matchups, those plays really sparked us. The defense too, we see those guys making plays, really fires us up.
-On responding to adversity: Just gotta keep doing what we’re doing. We shot ourselves in the foot a bit. Can’t get down about it.
-On overcoming offensive struggles: On the outside it may look like we struggle. But we’ve moved the ball really well, some self inflicted wounds have put us behind the sticks. But I really like how we’ve played offensively this year.
-On how he’d rank this game: I don’t know if it’s one of my best. I think about the two picks, and that’s why. But in terms of responding to what happens, yeah. Credit to our guys giving us a chance. We don’t usually win when I throw two picks.
On similarities to Maryland game: I don’t know, you have to win to go on a run. We have to prepare for Nebraska, so we have to come ready to go. This is a huge win for us, losing three straight, in a hostile environment. This is a great win for us.
-On responding to adversity: We kept saying go out there and make a play. Just have to go out there and do something.
-On his TD catch: Honestly just trusting the play, Clay put the ball in a perfect spot. I don’t think I broke stride and he had enough time to throw that ball. Just had to trust the play throughout.
-On success against MSU: I think it starts with the O-line up front. Giving us a chance to get open, we have to create space, then hope Clay finds you. It’s about getting open and I have to beat my guy.
-On playing near home: I mean first I think when you miss a couple games it reminds you how special these games are and how fun they are. I really enjoyed being out there with my teammates. West Michigan means a lot to me, my friends and family. It’s so exciting to see the family come together, and it’s a great environment here so it’s a great win.
-On scoring after droughts: It’s been clear that after we’ve gone on a run, we struggle to put up points. So for us to be able to respond and put up points, it means a lot for us to go out there and be able to finish drives, stay hungry.