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MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY MEDIA CONFERENCE
October 21, 2014
Q.¬† How was this first big practice of Michigan week?
SHILIQUE CALHOUN:¬† I'd say it was good.¬† Came out fired up.¬† Just like any other week, we're all just fired up, ready to get out there and try to make our mark in practice and perfect our craft.
MARCUS RUSH:¬† I think we came out here focused today, definitely.¬† It's Michigan week.¬† It's something special every year.¬† So I think the guys were all focused in and ready to go.
TONY LIPPETT:¬† Yeah, just like a regular Tuesday.¬† We've got to come out there enthusiastic and trying to execute and do our game plan to the best of our abilities and just find our way with it.
Q.¬† For Shilique and Marcus, it's been 1,102 days since Michigan scored a touchdown against Michigan State.¬† For you guys to continue to perform at that level of dominance, what do you think are some keys in that game plan, but keys that you guys think you need to be conscious of on Saturday?
SHILIQUE CALHOUN:¬† I would say, you know, it kind of goes into every week game planning.¬† Dominate up front, be gap sound.¬† Not only that, but take the coaching and understand it.¬† Get a better understanding for the man that's across from you and just try to let the defensive line wreak havoc in the back field.¬† Just trust and know where your help is, because defense is knowing where your help is.
So that's the biggest factor.¬† Know where your help is, and know the man that's across from you or the man that's behind you is going to do his job to the best of his abilities and positive things will come out of it.
MARCUS RUSH:¬† Yeah, for sure.¬† I mean, Shilique pretty much covered it.¬† It starts up front.¬† We're learning a lot from our past games.¬† Some teams have hit some big plays on us and we've been learning from that watching film, so hopefully we'll apply that this weekend.
Q.¬† Marcus, if you could expand on that a little bit.¬† What kind of things have you learned from past games in terms of things that opponents have done?¬† What have you worked on?
MARCUS RUSH:¬† I mean, just making sure you're working your technique every single down.¬† Because if you're lacking technique‑‑ they're good players on the other line, past opponents.¬† I mean, there are times that we get out of position and guys that we've been playing recently, running backs, they're athletic and they can make big plays.
So it's just a matter of being consistent every play and making sure that we're, like Shilique said, gap sound.¬† Making sure we're doing our job every single play.
Q.¬† Marcus, correct me if I'm wrong, but you were pretty close to going to Michigan and then a last‑minute visit here kind of changed your mind, is that right?
MARCUS RUSH:¬† I wouldn't say "pretty close".¬† It was just a matter of how many visits I went to Michigan.¬† It was probably three or four, and then I got the offer from Michigan State.¬† It was a no‑brainer to just make the visit and everything turned out well.
Q.¬† You feel you've made the right choice?
MARCUS RUSH:¬† I would say so.
Q.¬† For Shilique and Marcus again, but it's about Tony:¬† Watching those catches that he makes, you guys are too young to remember, but the Willie Mays catch he made on Saturday, did you guys see some of the magician‑type stuff he's doing right now catching the football?¬† Looking at you guys on the sidelines and watching up at replays, what are your thoughts?
SHILIQUE CALHOUN:¬† I can give you some insight on that:¬† I've been basically paying off the other DBs to let him get open.¬† Let's not make him out to be something he's not.¬† No, I'm only joking.
No, seeing those guys on the offense make those amazing catches or these amazing runs, it kind of pumps you up as a defense and gets you ready for your opportunity to get on the field.¬† We have a lot of faith in our offense and faith that they're going to score.¬† So when they put points on the board, it makes it a lot lighter for the defense to go out there.¬† I wouldn't say it gives us more opportunity to make mistakes, but it gives us a little margin for error.
So it is nice to see them out there clicking together though because it just makes us confident in our team.¬† It just makes us want to click on defense, also.
MARCUS RUSH:¬† It's more of an inspiration, I think, for the defense.¬† I think for the seniors as well.¬† Tony is coming out and dominating right now making big plays and that's what coach expects of the seniors.¬† It kind of inspires all of us, offense and defense, to just keep working, make big plays and that's our job.
Q.¬† Marcus and Shilique, compared to other games, how does this one stack up on how nasty it can be in the trenches?
SHILIQUE CALHOUN:¬† Say that again?
Q.¬† Compared to other games, how nasty does this get in the trenches for you guys?
MARCUS RUSH:¬† I mean, it's a rivalry game.¬† The day after last year's game, as soon as that game is over, you're already ready to play them again.¬† So it's a year‑round thing, and everyone's fired up.¬† So, yeah, it gets pretty nasty in there.
Both teams are in Michigan, they don't like each other.¬† I mean, we respect each other but we don't like each other, so things happen.¬† You get a little feisty as a D‑line or O‑line, and that's a given in football.
SHILIQUE CALHOUN:¬† I agree with him.¬† It's a rivalry game game, so there is going to be a lot of passion.¬† On offense and defense we're both looking for those inches.¬† So by any means we're trying to get those inches.
Q.¬† Tony, obviously, as a Detroit guy, it's got to be a big rivalry for you as well.¬† But when you hear them talking they have to stop you, can you talk about how far you've come from the first time you played in this rivalry?¬† What's it mean to be such a big part of it at this point?
TONY LIPPETT:¬† I mean, experience kind of made me into the person I am today.¬† I have played against them for a while.¬† I've been exposed to the rivalry and the blood between each other.¬† I just try to be consistent in what I do daily, weekly and everything, in how I prepare for the game and how I get mentally and physically prepared.¬† Just try to go out there and make plays.
It's a good thing for them to, you know, say I'm one of the players that they need to stop or something like that.¬† But I don't look at it like that because I still know there is a lot more room for me to get better.¬† So that's basically what I'm going to be focusing on.
Q.¬† If you could dig up a bad memory for me losing in Ann Arbor.¬† We were talking with Connor and Taiwan earlier, and they were saying after the game when you lost in Ann Arbor, that their players came over to the sidelines and things were said.¬† What do you remember about that loss?¬† What made it so bitter?¬† And how did, I guess, Michigan poor fuel on the fire after the loss to leave Taiwan and Connor upset like that?
TONY LIPPETT:¬† They ran on the sideline after‑‑ it was towards the end of the game on a last‑second field goal, and it was a good play by the kicker.¬† A good play before that from Denard Robinson throwing to big number 9.¬† But they just ran over on the sideline, you know, full of enthusiasm, and they were happy to win.¬† A few things were said, but it wasn't really nothing.¬† So I mean, that's what I remember from it.
SHILIQUE CALHOUN:¬† Just to go off what he said, a loss is a loss to me.¬† Losing in general is never fun.¬† So it always leaves a sour taste in your mouth.¬† That's just what I remember.¬† Just losing in general, and not wanting that to ever happen again.
MARCUS RUSH:¬† Yeah, just being a competitor in general, and then just playing Michigan, the whole buildup, and then not accomplishing the goal that you have.¬† I mean, it's never a good feeling, so that's really how I felt.¬† You're just kind of down, your heart is sunk in, but you've got to move forward and move on to the next.
Q.¬† This question is for all three of you guys:¬† What do you like most about this rivalry?¬† Or what is the best part about it?¬† Is it the week leading up to it, when the game comes, is it during the game?
TONY LIPPETT:¬† I would say all of it combined.¬† I mean, leading up to it, not even just the week prior to it, yearly around, just knowing that you get another shot playing them.¬† I would probably say all of it is tied into one, so all of them is kind of important as the other.
SHILIQUE CALHOUN:¬† Yeah, I would agree.¬† The sense of a rivalry game when you schedule it, it kind of brings life to the season.¬† No matter if it's up or down, it's always that monumental moment that you just wait to play those guys.¬† Like I said, it doesn't matter if you have a losing record or a winning record, you always bring passion to that game, and there is always some life in that game that can make or break your season.
MARCUS RUSH:¬† I mean, definitely the buildup.¬† I look forward to just the intensity of the entire week.¬† You can feel it within the players.¬† It's kind of hard to contain it sometimes.¬† But it's an exciting game.¬† That's what you play football for here.
Q.¬† Shilique and Marcus, just wondering what you've seen out of Devin Gardner on film, and what are the keys to containing him?
MARCUS RUSH:¬† He's always been an athletic guy.¬† He can throw the ball and he can also run the ball.¬† So you've got to watch for‑‑ it's kind of hard as a D‑lineman, because you want to get a good pass rush.¬† But at the same time, you've got to watch for him scrambling.¬† So I mean, that's what he does well.
SHILIQUE CALHOUN:¬† I would agree.¬† Very shifty guy.¬† Does a great job of being elusive even when his tackles don't hold up or his guards don't hold up, he does a great job making plays off of broken plays.¬† So I think the biggest thing is being aggressive, and I would say just putting him in the well, I guess.
Q.¬† Marcus and Shilique again, sorry, Tony, you played defense before, maybe you can answer this:¬† But the minus‑48 yards rushing last year was obviously a big deal.¬† Do you talk about that much anymore?¬† I guess the second part of that is more about Coach Narduzzi and what is his intensity like?¬† How important is he in a week like this when emotions are so high?
SHILIQUE CALHOUN: ¬†I mean, you guys pretty much see him in the fourth quarter of any game.¬† There is nothing different from that.¬† He always has passion for the game.¬† His attitude never changes towards any team.¬† He wants to win and he wants perfection.¬† So I'm not going to say that he's not excited for this game, because I'm pretty sure he is.¬† But from what I've seen of him over the years, he's been excited for every game.¬† It's a new opportunity for his defense to go out there and make a name for themselves.
But I mean, we definitely watch the film and we watch what we've done well, but we've also been very critical of that game when it was negative‑48 yards.¬† So we were just trying to make an improvement on it.¬† We're not looking at a goal or anything, but we're trying to improve upon it more so than look upon it and say, wow, we did a great job, because there is always room for improvement.
MARCUS RUSH:¬† Shilique pretty much summed it up.¬† You can't be content, especially with our defense; we're trying to be a better defense than we were last year, and we're focused on the task ahead.¬† We're not looking back on what we did last year against Michigan.¬† It's a new year, a new team.¬† So we're just trying to dominate again, and that's what we're practicing for this week.
Q.¬† I've got two questions.¬† I'll give Shilique time to remember his.¬† One, Shilique, you said in Chicago, when you first came here you said "Michigan" instead of "Michigan State".¬† We know that you really didn't follow college football closely, so I'll let you think about how you want to tell that story.¬† But Tony, what was your recruitment like to the University of Michigan and how much interest did they show?
TONY LIPPETT:¬† I guess I was a quarterback when I was recruited by them.¬† I guess it was kind of on and off.¬† I was going to camp playing receiver some, playing quarterback some, so it was an on‑and‑off process.¬† It was never really anything solid there.¬† So I guess that's how it was.
Q.¬† (No microphone).
TONY LIPPETT:¬† No, they didn't offer me anything.
Q.¬† (No microphone).
SHILIQUE CALHOUN:¬† What do you mean?¬† What exactly do you want to know?
Q.¬† You referred to Michigan State as "Michigan", and your teammates let you know very quickly that that was different.
SHILIQUE CALHOUN:¬† It was a subtle approach to me just letting me know and informing me that we're a totally different university.¬† It was more so when I got here.¬† I was able to figure that out.¬† I'm from New Jersey, so let's not kill me now, all right?¬† Don't put the dagger in my back and throw me under the bus so early.
But, no, we just communicated and said that it's two totally different schools, you know?¬† So keep it like that.
Q.¬† Just to clarify though, it didn't make any difference to you because the whole thing was you didn't follow college football close enough to know much about all the schools across the country, right?
SHILIQUE CALHOUN:¬† Well, it did make a difference.¬† If I was choosing to come here, it makes a big difference.¬† You want to be straight on what school you're attending, and you definitely don't want to mix up the two because, like I said, there is a big rivalry between the two.¬† So I would never want to disrespect this university nor my teammates by calling them something that they're not.
Q. ¬†Tony, Brady Hoke made a big point of bringing you up the other day talking about how well you played and how you're a big focus for them.¬† Just wondering, have you noticed a big change in the last few weeks in terms of being doubled, more attention?¬† And what do you expect from Michigan this week?
TONY LIPPETT:¬† Yeah, I noticed being doubled a little bit more and more attention is being focused on me a little bit.¬† I just try to approach the game the same way.¬† If they came up to me and tried to double‑team me, I just try to manipulate as much as I can and get open.¬† I don't really face it like that at practice, so it will be something I have to adjust on the fly with and some of that nature.
But a few teams have double covered me before, and I guess I kind of figured out a little way to attack it just a little bit better.
SHILIQUE CALHOUN:¬† I've actually played a little DB from time to time, and Tony has not gotten open.¬† Just the way to stop Tony Lippett, put Shilique in.
Q.¬† You guys have been the underdog in a lot of these games against Michigan over the years.¬† This year that's not the case.¬† I've seen lines as high as 17.5 points favoring you.¬† Does that change the way this rivalry feels for you at all?
SHILIQUE CALHOUN:¬† Nope.
TONY LIPPETT: ¬†I mean, we kind of like being the underdogs.¬† Even if we're not, we still always feel like that because we're always feeling out ways we can beat the team or figuring out things we can do better.¬† We don't just praise ourselves for the things that we do well.¬† That's what Coach Dantonio instilled in us.¬† Seek first, there is always more room to improve out there.
SHILIQUE CALHOUN:¬† He said it all.
Q.¬† Guys, when Tony was a freshman he mimicked Denard Robinson in practice, and the defense came off the field talking about, Tony had played better as Denard than Denard was playing that day in practice in how they prepared it.¬† Can you tell me who has played Devin this week?¬† This is the first day, but who played Devin and your thoughts on their performance?
SHILIQUE CALHOUN:¬† We're not going to give too much insight, but the person that played Devin did a very good job today.¬† We'll leave it at that.¬† No names.¬† That's classified information.
Q.¬† Marcus and Tony, just what is this week like and how is it different knowing this is your last time playing Michigan?
MARCUS RUSH:¬† I mean, it's kind of an eye opener.¬† It is our last time playing Michigan, so we want to definitely go out with a bang.¬† There would be nothing worse than losing to Michigan your senior year.
So definitely I think the seniors are amped, especially for this game, and they're ready to go.
TONY LIPPETT:¬† We know it's our last go‑around, and we've been able to witness the seniors the previous years and how they went out against this team.¬† We just want to, you know, like you said, go out on top and just know that at the end of the day, we put our best foot forward in preparing and getting ready for that game.¬† So at the end of the day, that's what we look forward to.
SHILIQUE CALHOUN:¬† I have another year, man.¬† I have another year, guys.¬† Trying to kick me out already.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports