Michigan State is now getting ready for a few days off for the holiday 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 offensive coordinator Dan Roushar had with the media.
Q. I was going back over my notes at the start of the season and you talked about telling your guys you just wanted them to get better every day. My question for you is how have you gotten better every day?
Dan Roushar: Well, I think through the course of the season, I got a lot more comfortable with our system. I think the other thing that happened is I got a lot more comfortable with understanding what each guy does pretty well, and I think we started getting some continuity and consistency up front and really tried to play to the strengths of our football team.
Often times I think we think so much about scheme, how you might try to run a particular concept, and in doing so I think we also take into strong consideration who those guys are that are doing it. I think I've got a lot better there, and I thought our football team did, as well.
Q. Can you give us an update on Dion Sims, and by the bowl game will he be able to contribute in the passing game?
Dan Roushar: You know, his injury is still taking time to heal, and our understanding is this will take a number of months. He's still wearing a cast on his wrist, and so his skill set is not what it was. But he looks like he's more comfortable. In practices I've watched him the last few days, and really leading up through the last couple weeks in our preparation for the Big Ten Championship Game I could see some positive things there. You know, he's certainly getting work right now, and our hope is that he is very effective in the bowl game.
Q. I'm wondering philosophically if things change in a bowl game environment, you're playing a non conference team, there's nothing to save, they know your tendencies, does it affect how you call a game, and do you tend to be a little more wide open or surprising in that regard?
Dan Roushar: Well, you know, they have all 13 of our games as we have all 13 of their games, and they'll do their homework and their research, and they'll have a good understanding of what our tendencies are or aren't.
I think that going into a game like this, you want to create match ups that make it wide open. So I don't know if you'll see it a whole lot different than you did in the final game of the season, where we try to exploit some things and we want to put the ball in certain guys' hands and let them make plays for us. But you know, as we've gone into this week with our preparation, we've got some different ideas that we're going to see if we can't continue to refine, and if we're executing them at a high level, then you'll see them called in that bowl game.
Q. You touched on the continuity of your offensive line. How drastic was the difference maybe from the Notre Dame game or an earlier game in the season to the last four or five games of the year?
Dan Roushar: Really, I think when you look at us, I think two things really evolved. When Keshawn got healthy, we got a second receiver that got very involved, and that helped out dramatically. But also in addition to that, the offensive line, it was well documented that we had to replace three starters, but we lose Travis Jackson before the season, we lose Blake Treadwell in the Notre Dame game, and we lose Skyler Burkland in the Notre Dame game, and then you're re-developing - here's those kind of movements that you've got to make when you take a guy that's playing left tackle and you move him to right tackle and so on.
And I really think that through our open week, those guys started to develop, and to be able to put them out there each and every week, I think that was one of the biggest differences in our marked improvement as an offensive football team, that their ability to stay in there and work with one another. I think that you could see consistency. We didn't have nearly the breakdowns that we had early, and I think Mark Staten and the offensive line deserve a lot of credit for how well we improved through the last half of the season.
Q. Talk a little bit about Kirk Cousins and just how much you might miss him when he's gone.
Dan Roushar: Well, again, Kirk is such an outstanding person, and I think one of the biggest things when I look at it is, or misunderstandings, is that guy is one terrific quarterback. I mean, you look at what he did and how well he's throwing the ball and the things he's done each and every week, he's very impressive. He'll be missed greatly. We have some young guys that we're very encouraged by. Obviously they haven't gotten the experience.
But when you watch Kirk in practice and you watch B.J. Cunningham in practice, you see two guys that I think perform at an extremely high level, and what you see in practice you often times see in games. You don't see a whole lot different. I've been impressed with him. I'm watching him yesterday in practice and he came off of a third read and went to a fourth look, and he comes back over, and I just asked him, I said, how did you get there, and he very quickly gave me an unbelievable response.
You know, his experience, the things he's done, he'll be a tough guy to replace, there's no question about it.