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MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY MEDIA CONFERENCE


December 16, 2014


Jim Bollman

Dave Warner


Q.  Can you give us some quick impressions of Baylor's defense and what you've seen on film.
COACH WARNER:  Obviously, everyone talks about Baylor's offense, but you look at them defensively, and they're a very good defense.  They're led up front by Oakman, who is about 6'9", 280 I think he's listed as.  A very good player, reminds you of a couple of defensive ends we played against Oregon a few months ago.
They're not complicated by what they do, but at the same time, they're very good at what they do.  They're a team that's done blitz a lot, but, again, they're very detailed, they're very disciplined in what they do defensively and they're good.  It's going to be a challenge for us bottom line.

Q.¬† Coach Bollman, this one's for you:¬† The last time you had a Big Ten Bowl game like this, you played a team, different offense but as explosive, was Miami in the National Championship Game.¬† How key is it going to be to establish the run simply from the standpoint of giving your defense a break because of their high‑up‑tempo offense?
COACH BOLLMAN:  I think that these people put some pressure on you to be consistent on offense and to stay on the field.  I don't necessarily think that the run is the only way to do it; there has to be balance.  But when you go to pass, you better be consistent in the pass.  I think if you went with the approach that you're just going to run the ball down these guys' throats, I don't think it's going to work.
As we've talked about, before, there better be a threat of balance to make both aspects of the game work or it's too easy to get shut down.

Q.  How do you guys make sure you guys can steal the attention if the two powers can cancel each other out?
COACH WARNER:  I guess, I don't know.  I'm not sure it's any different than a lot of games we play.  We sort of did our thing all year long.  Just a matter of us going out and showing them what we can do on the field.  That's what it comes down to.  Our defense played excellent.  Heard Pat talking about this year, they're a very good defense this year, our defense was.  Obviously excellent last year.  So our defense deserves all the credit.
Baylor's the No. 1 offense coming into the game, so they deserve a lot of recognition as well.  We just sort of go about our business, I guess.  We use it as motivation to our guys to just, you know, they've got to make some noise and make a name for themselves.  That's sort of how we approach every week, so I don't think it's any different, probably, other than the fact that we are going against the No. 1 offense in the nation.

Q.  With the success you've had in these bowls in the last couple of years, can you pinpoint anything that's that you've done to prepare that's allowing you to do that?
COACH WARNER:  Couple years back, we've sort of gone to not installing an entire game plan right away.  Like you're going through a normal game week, we try to get something in on Tuesday and finish the game plan on Wednesday, and sort of polish it on Thursday, and we've sort of gone a couple weeks back or a couple years back, I should say, of being a little bit slower and installing things.  So by the time you actually get to your Bowl site and have four or five more practices or whatever it is, it's not old, stale stuff that we've been doing forever.  So we try to put it in as pieces.  We think it's helped keep guys fresh and more locked in over the years.

Q.  Dave, I was wondering if you could evaluate Connor Cook's season to this point.  How much has he grown from last year to this year?  And how much more does he still have to do?
COACH WARNER:  Well, I think his growth from last year to this year has been very good, very strong.  I mean, he's come along as a leader.  He's come along as a game manager knowing our offense and being able to execute our offense.  So I think he's grown leaps and bounds throughout the course of the year.  I mean, it's been up and down, like every quarterback throughout the course of the year.  Up and down like every offense throughout the course of the year.  But I think overall he's executed and had a lot of big plays for us.
Where he has to go from here, I think he's got a big upside.¬† I think that just from a re‑progression‑type deal that's going to lead to everybody talking during the season about his footwork and so forth, and I think that all relates back to his progression and his pass‑game progression, because I think as he's comfortable with that, his feet can sort of follow suit.¬† So I think if he makes that improvement, or that is the biggest thing he can improve on, if he makes that, he's going to be much better off.

Q.  Do you think he's ready for the NFL if he decided to leave early right now?
COACH WARNER:  I think that's a decision for the experts to make, the NFL experts.  I'm just a college football coach.  They can make that decision.  But I think he's a very good quarterback, and I think he's got some improvement that he can make in front of him.

Q.¬† I asked Pat a similar question:¬† What have you seen from your younger offensive guys and current guys when you have to simulate these up‑tempo offenses?¬† There have been a few of them this year.¬† What have you seen from those guys on your side of the ball?¬† What do you see is that in terms of the offense in the future for Michigan State?
COACH BOLLMAN:¬† I think one of the things that may help us is we're not one of the rest of the guys.¬† We're not one of the spread‑out crews.¬† We're one of the old‑fashioned crews, so that everyone has to prepare for us a little bit differently than they do other people all week.¬† I think that's a benefit for us.
I think that another thing we've done a good job of is to have a great variety in all the different things that we do, and the types of runs that we do, and the types of passes that we do.  I think that puts some pressure on the defense preparing all week for things that we do.
So there are benefits to the up‑tempo type of things.¬† I understand that.¬† There might be more benefits to it when it's a changing tempo as opposed to being one steady pace the whole time.¬† So we kind of are who we are right now and haven't really talked much about the future.

Q.  That being said, is there a team they've faced that they might say, this team emulates Michigan State in some of the things they do?  As you mentioned, the change of pace, is this a team that they're not necessarily familiar to seeing?
COACH WARNER:  I don't think they've faced a team this year like us.  Some teams maybe resemble certain parts of what we do, but again, that's not unique.  Every game we go throughout the course of the season, we always look that here's a team we want to break down, here's a team.  And it's hard to find those teams that actually play with the quarterback under center or the fullback behind them.  Which might be a little bit of a dinosaur, but it's worked okay for us.

Q.¬† Not everybody does co‑coordinators.¬† Michigan State is one of them.¬† How have each of you impacted each other?¬† How has Dave impacted you, Jim, and how has Jim impacted you, Dave?¬† Because obviously, it's working.
COACH BOLLMAN:  Oh, you know, as I said at the banquet, I'm kind of the old new guy or the new old guy.  And it's a great thing to be here.  There was a lot of camaraderie with the staff that I had before I got here and know these guys a little bit and some of them I worked with.  For me, it's been a lot easier this year than last year because there was a degree of learning.  There was a degree of fitting in.  There was a degree of trying to employ some of the things I've done in the past to try to help, which is the bottom line to try to help.  Because the wheel wasn't broken, that's for sure.  The thing was to try to see how you can add to the picture.
So it's certainly been a lot of fun.  It's been rewarding.  They've done a great job leading the show, and it's fun for me just to be in the role of trying to assist however I can.
COACH WARNER:¬† I'll start up by saying one of the things that Bolls did not bring with him, and that is an ego.¬† That is something that we've always tried to ‑‑ in our staff room, we're always trying to take everybody's ideas and toss it around and see what sticks.¬† Throw out the ones that don't stick.¬† And Bolls from one day showed up, and as he said, wanted to help.¬† That was important to be able to fit into what we've done here and what we want to continue to do.
At the same time, I think you've guys have seen it and asked me over and over again about some of the different things, unique things.  You go back two years ago and said we wanted to tweak some things, incorporate some new ideas, and a lot of that was Bolls, bringing those ideas to fruition.  It's all us putting our minds together.  But Bolls had experience with some of the things we've done, and I think what he's been able to add to our offense has been obvious to you guys.  And a lot of it is credit to him.

Q.  Wanted to ask you about the offensive line:  You've dealt with various injuries at different spots throughout the year.  You have one of the better running backs and give up very few sacks.  Talk about the way that unit has played all year and how they've progressed throughout the season.
COACH BOLLMAN:  Well, a big reason of the way they played is because of the way Mark Staten coaches them.  He does a great job with that, no question about it.  And we've been very fortunate that some of the injuries that you speak of have been rather timely.  Where we've been able to shift a guy over and make up for the loss for that moment, and maybe it changes a few weeks later.  I think it was a big benefit for us to get Connor Kruse back, when he was out the first month or two of the season.  That was a big aspect to be back.
But the way Mark coaches those guys, they're flexible up front from position to position, side to side.  And when you do that, you learn a lot more about the entire football game and the whys and the wheres of what's going on.  They've done a really good job in that regard, and they've done a great job of pass protection.
That goes into a lot of different things though.  That goes into Connor getting rid of the ball.  That goes into running backs protecting.  That goes into guys running good routes.  That's just the overall aspect of the football game.  But their part of the game, they've done very well and adjusted very well to things that they've been seeing.  As you can see, they've done a good job in the running game.  Part of it, the variety of different ways that we run the ball helps us.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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