Michigan State is now getting ready for a few days off for the holidays before reporting back to campus for final bowl preparations and then departure to the Outback Bowl to take on Georgia.
The following is a transcript of the question and answer session defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi had with the media.
Q. When you look at their offense what do you see?
Pat Narduzzi: You know, what sticks out most to me is obviously they're huge up front, pretty athletic, real good at the skill positions. The thing that sticks out to me most is they really get the ball out quick. First we thought it was three step. It's a real quick five passing game, so they don't really give you a chance to get much pressure on them, so we're going to have to be very careful with pressure because they'll beat you with the ball.
Their tailback doesn't even stay in the protect. He's going to free release all day long, so we're going to have to cover him up and get good four man pressure. That will be critical.
Q. Is your physicality an advantage for you?
Pat Narduzzi: I think so. We'll find out. It should be. Any time you're physical, it should be your advantage in any game really. I think that's key.
Q. With the linebackers when you look at the expectations, maybe just your expectations on the year and now looking at how they performed this year, would you say they far exceeded what you thought they were going to do this season?
Pat Narduzzi: You know, if I said far exceeded, that means I had no confidence in what they could do. As a matter of fact, Max Bullough after a press conference in the summer looked at me like I was crazy when I said I don't know, he's got big shoes to fill, we'll find out probably can't do it as well as Greg Jones did, and he looked at me like, are you nuts, I can do it better.
Our kids had confidence at linebacker, really at every position, but Max especially is one of those guys that looked at me like I can do this, Coach, don't worry about me. Again, they've done what they're supposed to do, and I'm fired up for them. They've done everything they needed to do. They've met expectations, I think.
Q. They have 12 different guys who have caught touchdown passes. How difficult is it to defend a team that has so many that spreads out the wealth so much?
Pat Narduzzi: Well, they're an 11 personnel lot, which means there's three receivers in the game. His favorite target is his tight end, probably his roommate. You'd have to ask them if they're roommates because they look like it and they went to high school together, so I'm assuming. It's difficult, but you know what, it doesn't matter how slow that guy is out there or how big he is, if he's a 300 pound wide receiver, you've got to cover them all, you can't say they're not going to throw to that guy because as soon as you don't cover them...so it's tough anytime they line up with four or five receivers and go run a route, that's what they're going to do; they're going to have five quick receivers. They might as well line up on empty based on how much their tailback gets out on the route.
Q. Does that mean that you're going to have to play more five and six defensive backs on a frequent basis?
Pat Narduzzi: No, no, great question. We won't have to do that. We've got our outside linebacker on the field that's pretty athletic and he can play the run and the pass pretty well based on what he needs to do, so we feel pretty good with our base personnel. They're a no huddle offense, so if we would have to go five or six D backs, you struggle getting those guys in, then they'll snap the ball quick and get you with too many illegal participation. So that's one of our advantages to a no huddle is we don't have to switch our personnel.
Q. If you can just touch on your defensive secondary and how much they've really come along this season and their ability to make plays back there and really intercept the pass, something you weren't able to do as much last year.
Pat Narduzzi: Yeah, we've done a great job with turnovers, and obviously credit the pass rush with Coach Gill and Coach Tressel and Coach Barnett with the secondary. He's done a great job with them. Kids believe in what we're doing and they've made plays on the ball. There was a couple times we didn't make plays. I remember those more than ones we made.
They've done a great job. Trenton was the only senior we have back there. Isaiah Lewis has had a great year. And of courseJohnny Adams and Darqueze (Dennard), who's back 100 percent right now. And Mitchell White has really had a great - I don't want to call it camp - but bowl practice, and he's stepped up and looked very, very good.
Q. Mark talked about Denzel Drone moving inside playing some defensive tackle, said you'd have to take a look. Obviously what's gone on? Anybody else you expected to take some reps inside?
Pat Narduzzi: The guy that's really looked good - and Denzel will have a chance to do some of that, but the guy that's really looked good is Micajah Reynolds. And again, like I've told you guys before, he's played a little bit of both. Denzel has looked good and Micajah has looked really, really good. He's looked the best he has playing inside. So guys sometimes step up when they need to, and I think he's ready to go.