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November 4, 2014

Connor Cook

Taiwan Jones

Q.テつ Connor, after looking at Ohio State now closely, how different is this defense from last year's?
CONNOR COOK:テつ It's a little different,テつ depending on the coverages.テつ Last year there was more man coverage, I feel middle field close a lot, cover three and cover six this year you see a lot more open but that's the main difference.テつ They mix it up a little bit with the fronts, trying to go odd fronts here and there, but this year I think you see more four‑man front, four‑three, pretty much but there is just a little‑‑ custom differences, nothing too major, pretty much just the coverages, that's what I would say.

Q.テつ Is it better?
CONNOR COOK:テつ Yeah, their defensive line is very, very good, great linebackers, guys that are active, guys that are fast and they got guys that are strong in the secondary as well, so it's a good defense.

Q.テつ Connor, you talked a couple of weeks ago about understanding what the Michigan rivalry meant to your teammates because you got to play Ohio State and experience it.テつ This week what's it like for you?
CONNOR COOK:テつ It's a little emotional, being from Ohio, everyone I go to high school with goes to Ohio State, roots for Ohio State, me growing up, guys that I went to elementary school with, this and that, it's not divided like Michigan.テつ In Michigan you grow up you're either blue or green, Ohio State, you grow up in Ohio you're a Buckeye fan.テつ Treating it like another game.テつ Just another opponent, I would say great opponent, but obviously not trying to get too emotional or get caught up in it.

Q.テつ Taiwan, what differences do you see with J.T. barrette now running it?
TAIWAN JONES:テつ A little bit similar.テつ I feel like with this offense that Barrett works better in this offense.テつ I feel like he has a better arm, he's a way better quarterback than Braxton, but I feel like it's a big challenge for us and we're actually looking forward to it and working this week in order for us to be successful against this offense.

Q.テつ Connor, what's the communication like with your friends back home?テつ Are they texting you, talking trash a little bit to you?テつ And maybe last year, too, what did they say after you guys won that game?
CONNOR COOK:テつ Everything is friendly.テつ I have friends that went to Ohio State that are my best friends from high school and they're obviously fully supporting‑‑ fully supportive in me, wishing me good luck, they might be coming to the game, too, they'll be wearing Michigan State Michigan State stuff but everybody from back home that I have relationships with, they're all supportive.テつ No one is talking any trash.テつ It's all friendly.

Q.テつ Do you have a moment from last year's game that stands out that you remember more than anything else?テつ Other than maybe at the very end of the game?テつ Do you have one that stands out?
CONNOR COOK:テつ Probably the end of the game, just taking that knee.

Q.テつ For both players, obviously Big Ten title implications in Saturday's game but of course the national playoff is still in the mix and I know you can't concern yourself with that.テつ Does that seep into your mind at all?テつ The scope of this game, the size of the game, ESPN Game Day here and everything else and how do you not let that get too big?
TAIWAN JONES:テつ I actually feel like we have to make it get that big with both of us being playoff teams and both of us competing for the playoffs, I feel like this big stage is pretty‑‑ it's a big step for both of us.テつ It shows, you know, both of us can play good football and the team that comes out on top is, you know, pretty much going to be one of the best teams coming out of the Big Ten conference, so I feel like that can help us move on to the next step with our season.
CONNOR COOK:テつ I think for us as a team, I think all of us individually, I think that's why we come to a school like Michigan State to play in games like this, to be at stage with the implications on the line.テつ You know, it's not, you know, I think Coach talks about with pressure and stuff, pressure is food, stress is bad and I think Coach does a great job with getting our minds right for the game so we're not stressed out or anything, we're ready to go out there no matter what the stage is, no matter who the opponent is, that we go out there and we're ready to play.テつ And I think, too, the coaches do a great job of getting our minds right for the game and then obviously getting our minds way from the playoff stuff, whatever is going on outside.テつ I really don't think we pay that close attention to that kind of stuff and we focus on the stuff that we can control and that's preparing our butts off each and every week and getting ourselves ready to play.

Q.テつ Same kind of question.テつ The media likes to label Saturday "Elimination Saturday" this is an elimination game.テつ What does that mean to you or do you even buy that?
CONNOR COOK:テつ What it means to me is that we gotta go 1‑0, like any other game.テつ I feel like no matter who the opponent is, once you start Big Ten play, every single game is a championship game pretty much because if you lose then you're done.テつ So this is just going to be like the Perdue game, just like the Indiana game, if we would have lost to Purdue then we wouldn't be talking about this, so it's like any other Big Ten game, I know that sounds cliche but truly that's how we look at it.
TAIWAN JONES:テつ I agree with Connor, I personally feel like the playoff system starts this weekend, like you said, one game elimination, whoever loses, you know, not going to have one of the best chances to move into those playoffs so we take it one game at a time and continue working toward our goals.

Q.テつ Also, if you guys can recall, both you guys, in that Oregon game, you played one of the best stretches of football this season over 20‑minute span, I think it was 5, three and outs, you went from 18 to 7 down to 25‑18 up.テつ Do you remember that?テつ And then from both sides of the ball, how do you recall how that stretch went?
TAIWAN JONES:テつ On defense, I feel like we just needed to finish.テつ Coach always says in that game we play a total of forty minutes of football we need to play 60.テつ So we need to finish games and that's what we've been working on being able to finish games because at the end of the day, you know, that he is how you win a game, it's not how you start it's how you finish.
CONNOR COOK:テつ Yeah, I think just like Taiwan said, looking back had a great first half, not so great second half.テつ The stuff that we showed in the first half going against a great opponent in Oregon, a great defense in a hostile environment shows what we're capable of doing.テつ The second half didn't go the way we wanted to, but the maintaining that sticks out in that game is you gotta be able to finish and I think that's what we've been priding ourselves on and emphasize this gone year is finishing.

Q.テつ Taiwan, can you talk about how the Ohio State offense looks different from a schematic standpoint than it did a year ago?
TAIWAN JONES:テつ It's not really that different.テつ They try to make it a little bit more simpler for J.T. Barrett at the beginning but he's starting to pick it up a lot now.
They have, you know, different running back, different "O" line, different positions than they had.テつ Guys had to step up, so it's a little bit different but it's the same thing that we have been seeing for the past three years since we've been playing them.

Q.テつ Taiwan, can you expand a little bit?テつ You said earlier that Barrett is a better quarterback than Miller.テつ Are you saying a better passer?テつ How would you compare those two as runners and passers and do they do as much with Barrett?
TAIWAN JONES:テつ As an athlete I feel like Miller was better but to fit in that offense, Urban Meyer, he fits well, like Teabow in that Florida offense with Urban Meyer, he feel like Barrett fits in that offense better and he can control the game better.テつ We need to not let them control the game, but let us control the game.

Q.テつ I'm wondering how the rivalry between Michigan State and Ohio State has kinda evolved through the past two years and also what it means, it's importance to the Big Ten as a conference and kinda the level of football that these two teams have played with the level consistently?
CONNOR COOK:テつ Going back to 2011 we played them at their place it was a tight game we came out victorious in the end and the next year we lost by one point and the following year, and last year, another tight game, down to the wire.テつ It's a friendly rivalry, we respect them, they respect us, but it's been growing over the past couple of years and it's just a competitive rivalry.テつ What it does for the Big Ten, is people see that, people from outside other conferences see the tight games that we have against Ohio State and the passion and the energy that comes with this game and I think it just does a great job of putting the Big Ten on the map with people just seeing how hard that we play against top teams in the country.テつ I think we're both top‑10 teams, or Ohio State whatever they're ranked but two great teams going at it.

Q.テつ (No microphone.)
CONNOR COOK:テつ You could say that.テつ We'll see what goes down on Saturday if there is any pushing or shoving or whatever.テつ I know I respect Ohio State, I know some guys on that football team that are nice guys that I've known growing up, but, you know, I wouldn't compare it to a Michigan rivalry at all.テつ I think it's a competitive rivalry.テつ Because me, you know, I respect Ohio State.テつ I have no disrespect to them whatsoever.
I don't know, we'll see what happens, if they're going to talk trash or whatever, but I know us as a football team here at Michigan State Michigan State we respect them.

Q.テつ With regard to Coach Meyer's opinion on the game, he said to call this a rivalry would be to diminish the rivalry that Ohio State has with Michigan and yet Connor you spoke about this being a rivalry.テつ What are your thoughts about having more than one rival and Taiwan, if you could talk about the Ohio State game and if it feels like a rivalry to you?
CONNOR COOK:テつ I think rivalry games are‑‑ there is always more energy for the Michigan game the hits are bigger, the energy is just a little bit higher.テつ There is more passion, stuff like that, so anytime you have more than one rivalry game, you know, things are going to be‑‑ things are going to get emotional, they're going to get hectic so I think it just‑‑ more rivalry games, you have better games to watch, I think.テつ I think rivalry games are entertaining, a lot of fun to watch.
TAIWAN JONES:テつ I think we treat it as a rivalry game because we have a lot of guys on our team who are from Ohio who take this personally.テつ Some guys before the game they get up and want to talk to us, they said they weren't good enough, Ohio State never recruited them and a lot of guys that want to prove themselves.
I mean, like Connor said, you can always have more than one rivalry, dating back to my freshman year, 2011 when Wisconsin began to be our rivalry at the Hail Mary in the Big Ten championship and the overtime win, so I feel like, you know, you could always have more than one rivalry and whether they think it's a rivalry or not we're going to treat it like one.

Q.テつ Connor, you and Ohio State are averaging right around 45 points a game this season.テつ We don't necessarily see too many offensive shoot‑outs back and forth in the Big Ten.テつ Is the prospect of a game like that exciting to you?テつ Does it put more pressure on the offense?
CONNOR COOK:テつ I wouldn't say it puts more pressure on our offense, but we're looking forward to it.テつ Anytime you have offenses that are averaging those kind of points and are capable of doing what they have shown in the past it's going to call for a good game.テつ I think we're looking forward to it, Ohio State's looking toward to it, it's going to be a great atmosphere, 8:00 at night, game day's gonna be there so, guys on our team are looking forward to it and it's going to be a great time.

Q.テつ Connor, I think you said on one of the other night games that you love the atmosphere, you hate the wait.テつ 8:00 game, biggest game of the year, what happens to you on Saturday?テつ Do you nap?テつ Go to meetings?テつ Watch football?テつ And how gut wrenching is that, to wait for a game like that?
CONNOR COOK:テつ The atmosphere is great, playin' at night, the Spartan Stadium at night it's a special place at night and the atmosphere is great, but the anticipation, the waiting all day is what gets to me.
I just try and‑‑ we have a four‑hour span, I will lay down, try and fall asleep, other than that we have meetings, watch tape, really don't watch football, try to get my mind right and focus on the things I need to for the game, but the nights, the anticipation is what I don't like but once it's game time then it's fun.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Thanks,guys.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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