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December 16, 2014

Pat Narduzzi

COACH NARDUZZI:  It was a heck of a football season for our guys on defense.  Really excited.  When you lose as many great players as we did the year before, it's a super season.  Anytime you win ten football games in a year, it's a great season.
We're excited to be playing in the Cotton Bowl and against a great Baylor football team.  Watched a ton of football games on those guys the last few days here.  Really the last week and a half, even while we were on the road recruiting.  Throw your iPad open and watch some tape and they're explosive.  Every run is a pass, and every pass is a run is really the best way to describe what they do.  Everybody thinks they've got this big‑ time passing game, which they do, but if you don't stop the run, you've got no chance.  This is about as evident as anybody.  They rushed for 200 yards a game and then throw for 400.  But we've got to stop the run.
They're very good, they're well coached, and the receivers know what they're doing out there as far as reading routes and what a DB is doing to them.  So they're a good football team, obviously.  We've got a great chance to go out and right the ship and beat a Top 5 team in the country, and I think that's what our guys are practicing for right now.

Q.  Expanding on that on their offense.  What do they do that's different?  Mark Dantonio said they're really cutting edge.  What about their offense is different from a lot of these other high‑tempo spreads?
COACH NARDUZZI:  You know what, first of all, it's going to be the fastest.  Someone said they're the second fastest‑‑ someone said on the TV copy, they're the second fastest offense in the country, and Montae Nicholson came up to me yesterday in the middle of practice, said, "Coach, who is number one?"  I'm going, "Number one what?"  "If this is this fast, who is number one?"
But we've got them snapping the ball somewhere between 14.  I shouldn't say that.  Anywhere between 10 and 17 seconds on normal downs.  Oregon was not that fast.  Oregon was in the 22s.  They've slowed it down quite a bit since Chip took over.  I didn't want to say that while we were playing, so I thought they'd speed it up.  I didn't want them to think we thought it was slower.  But they slowed down a little bit since Chip.
But this is the fastest team that we've seen.  Probably compared to an Indiana two years ago when we played and got surprised in that first half.  Like, we didn't practice this fast.  We were practicing at warp speed right now, even in individual doing drills.  So that our kids will be conditioned for it.  That's what I think makes it.
There are no different plays that you're seeing that they run, Joe.  There are no different plays.  It's really the same plays.  We'll see some different receiver splits, but we've seen people do that to us anyway.  That's something people tried to use against us.
But really they're the same plays you see, but at a fast tempo.  You look at some defenses and they look terrible out there because they're exhausted.  So you talk about rotation.  At times you've asked me, when is it time to get those D‑linemen in there?  It's a time to get guys subbed in after three or four plays just to keep them fresh, because we're better fresh than we are keeping your best player out there and sucking wind.

Q.  How much extra time is put and spent during Bowl practices simply on conditioning?  Because you know your guys know how to play that kind of offense, but just the conditioning aspect?
COACH NARDUZZI:  Well, it's the conditioning, but it's not just run some sprints after practice.  We really don't do that.  We don't run sprints after practice.  What we do is practice at a high tempo.  We're having our guys, our offense, our scout offense is trying to learn plays and trying to pick it up quickly off of cards.  Yesterday we snapped a bunch of balls between 12 and 16, 17 seconds unless ‑‑ someone's helmet got broken yesterday.  I said, "You guys are slowing us down.  We can't have broken helmets."
So we're conditioning throughout the practice.  And yesterday was probably one of the most taxing practices our kids have had.  It was long and play after play, I think we had 160 reps yesterday on defense, and that is not counting individual.

Q.  When you look back to Oregon, how was your defense more prepared to face one this high‑powered offense rather than two weeks into the season?
COACH NARDUZZI:  Experience is the best teacher, obviously.  Kids come out of that game and you say, "Guys, we played a good first half," and we had eight three‑and‑outs in that game.  So I think our guys are better educated on what you need to do.  We had eight three‑and‑outs, and they had 13 yards rushing.  Half of our guys are going, if we can put two halves together like that, we've got to be in better shape.
So I think they'll look at that game and go, what could we have done to beat them?  Maybe it's fatigue in the second half.  It's hard to point to what it was.  Was it their execution and our lack of execution?  But certainly you have to think it was conditioning at some point.  Our guys got to understand that once those tempos get done and get going, that's when they've got a chance on offense to succeed and we have a chance to lose on defense.
We had eight three‑and‑outs in that game.  First series of the second half we go three‑and‑out.  Second series we do pretty well on first down, pretty well on second down.  It's 3rd and 13, and we do pretty good all the way up to not tackling that Heisman Trophy candidate, I'm glad to say.  And same thing happened on the next series.  And I told our guys if we get ten three‑and‑outs, we should win the game.  Because if we get ten against Oregon, we probably win that game, too, because the momentum's changing.
They get a first down, and they get their tempo rolling and that's when they do well.  But three‑and‑outs are going to be critical.

Q.  Coach, this defense has been‑‑ even though it's ranked in the Top 10 overall, it has been beat up a little bit compared to the Rose Bowl defense.  Looking at your schedule and Ohio State with J.T. Barrett, the way he threw the ball, looking at playing Marcus Mariota and now Baylor, how much of it is the schedule that this defense has played maybe compared to the schedule the Rose Bowl defense played?
COACH NARDUZZI:  I don't look at the stats like that, but I know we have a pretty good defense.  It was not as good as it was a year ago, but probably not as bad as you guys think.  There were some things that freshmen are going to make mistakes here and there.
I go back to games, when I say this defense was not as good as it was last year, when I go back to Indiana and watch some of the junk plays that they've got on us, and not to point out Indiana, but there are some plays where you go, come on.  It wasn't what they did, it was what we did.  There were some plays throughout the year, gosh, I forgot who ran the outside zone on us at one point during the year.  It was at Purdue.  Purdue hit one late on us and got light trips and ran inside zone.  We don't fit it right, but it was kind of that was elementary.  So it wasn't what they did, it was what we did.
That's why a year ago our guys made those mistakes.  They didn't fall asleep on a play.  Our guys once in a while fall asleep on a play, but that doesn't make them a bad defense.  I think they finished pretty high in the country, and a lot of people would take it, I think.

Q.  Based on what you learned out at Oregon, have you changed significantly the way you're preparing for a fast offense?
COACH NARDUZZI:  You know, not really.  I mean, there are little things here and there that we've done to change it, but you can only go so hard.  We felt like we really beat the heck out of our kids yesterday, and you kind of feel bad as a coach when you walk off the field like, God, I don't know if I want my kids to be worn into the ground like that.  But they understand.  It's like, "Coach, bring more."  Then I watch the tape, and it was like, you wanted more and you look like that?  We've just got to get the tempo going faster and we have to play at a high rate when we're out there and get off the field when we can.  That's what it comes down to.
But structurally it will pretty much be the same, but we'll have tweaks that we've gotten in already.

Q.  You said every run is a pass and every pass is a run.  Can you explain more what you meant by that?
COACH NARDUZZI:  It's all, what do you want to call it, screens.  But every time they ride that tailback they're throwing short routes, so he's got options.  Again, some people do that, but they do it more than anybody in the country, I think.  They're going to run quick routes, bubble routes, quick out routes, they've got pop routes.  Everything is built in.
I mean, I would say of their pass game, probably 50% of their pass game is all built off of the run.  It's all play‑action pass.  So there are going to be run‑pass conflicts with people, which we're used to.  But it's all pass off a run.  That's what I think is special that they do.  You look at it and go, wow.
And they tempo you, as simple as that is, they tempo you, get you tired and gash you.  You put on a run tape and it's eight, nine, ten yards a run period.  You've got to be kidding me.  But they gas people.  People are gassed.  You see people throwing flippers, poor tackling, they do a great job.

Q.  I wonder if you can say anything about your future.  If you've been contacted by other schools?
COACH NARDUZZI:  Say that one more time.

Q.  If you've been contacted by any other schools?  And have you talked to your players about that at all?
COACH NARDUZZI:  Not really.  Don't talk to anybody about it really.  But we're focused obviously on the Cotton Bowl and Baylor and our preparations for them.  But things like that are going to happen at times.  You'll have opportunities just with the success we've had here at Michigan State.  With the multiple 10, 11, 12, 13‑win seasons, you're going to have opportunities, and that's because of Michigan State.  We'll deal with things like that when it's time to.  The tempo of that offense is pretty darn good, so we've got to worry about that.

Q.  I'm going to follow up on that.
COACH NARDUZZI:  I figured you would.  You let the rookie break the ice, huh?

Q.  Have you done things differently?  This comes up every year.  Have you approached things differently because of that?  You know opportunities are going to come up and you're preparing for a big Bowl game.
COACH NARDUZZI:  Not really.  Just do it the same way.  The most important thing right now is our kids and winning this football game, really.  Those other things will come.

Q.  Get back to that tempo a little bit.  How have you seen the younger guys on offense respond to running that tempo?  I know you've used them quite extensively to go quicker.
COACH NARDUZZI:  Yeah, they've done a great job.  I think they'll be worn out today, I had to cut some breaks just to get the offense.  We'll go ones and sub our guys in, but that's poor scout teams.  They don't get any breaks.  There is nobody to sub them out.  There is one lineman to sub out of the five and maybe two tailbacks and receivers.  So they've done a great job.  They did a great job yesterday.  We've just got to keep them fresh and keep them healthy so we can get a good look.  But they've gotten better at it.  They understand how critical it is, and they're going to learn from games as well.  So they've done a good job for us.

Q.  Following that up, I talked to, I think it was Mack Brown who said when they started doing that in their scout team, in the future they realized, hey, they're pretty good.  Is that something you can see with this offense moving down the line?
COACH NARDUZZI:  I'm just coaching defense.  I don't know.  I don't know.  That's way too early to say.  It ain't that good, I guess.

Q.  A lot of these kids that you're coaching now don't remember what it was like the last time Michigan State played a team that was left out of a potential National Championship bid, Alabama in 2011.  Can you use the experience from that?  I know your program is much different than 2011, but can you use your experience to make sure these kids remain solely focused on going out?
COACH NARDUZZI:  Our guys will be ready.  That's one thing Coach Dantonio has done here in eight seasons is we're going to be ready for every football game.  I don't think there is a letdown.  If you think there was a letdown, there probably wasn't.  Our kids play their tails off every week.  Coach Dantonio does a great job of motivating our football team and coaches to give it everything you've got every week.  That is one of the best things we do.
You're not going to see a letdown.  Remember when we first got here, "The same old Spartans."  I haven't heard that in years, and I said that's a good thing.

Q.  Specifically on Petty, who would you compare him to?  Pre‑snap is he more involved than maybe other quarterbacks in terms of more freedom to make his own decisions?
COACH NARDUZZI:  As far as Petty, he's obviously more involved with all those run passes.  I think he can pre‑snap.  I think he's looking to see if he's got a look he wants.  You'll see a lot of times where the O‑line doesn't know, but he knows what he's doing, and he may not ride the tailback but he's throwing it where he wants to.  So he's got a lot of freedom to do what he wants.
He's a great player.  Quick release as a quarterback, he doesn't step into his throws, but he doesn't need to.  He's throwing balls and puts it on the money.  That Kansas State game, I don't think that kid threw an incomplete pass the entire game, which is incredible.  He's a great quarterback.  And one of the top ones in the country, really, when you look at what they do there and how they've done it.  They've scored a bunch of points, so a good player.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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