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December 7, 2008

Mark Dantonio

Brian Hoyer

Justin Kershaw

Javon Ringer

MARK HOLLIS: On behalf of Michigan State University, we are very proud to represent the Big Ten Conference Capital One Bowl.
First and foremost, I want to thank Coach Dantonio, his coaching staff for an unbelievable job in preparing a great group of kids through this season. Nine wins is a remarkable accomplishment for this program in it's second year under Coach Dantonio and very, very proud of what he's accomplished here with the program.
Along with that, heading down to Orlando, it's going to be a great opportunity, not only for our team, but for those that support Michigan State, not only as a football program, but as an entire university. To be able to come together down there, both folks that live down in the Florida area and those that will be traveling down, great opportunity and we hope everyone purchases tickets through our ticket office here at Michigan State and helps support the future.
The MSU Alumni Association is going to be having a tour. All of the information on both tickets and tours are on-line, and the information is in the release on those Web sites. We are looking for a lot of people going down with us.
As for myself, Orlando is a great destination for all people with Disney and Universal and some of the other activities they have down there to offer. Steve Hogan is their executive director, and we have been in touch with him quite a bit over the past several weeks talking about the possibilities as well as some of the other Bowl games.
We are very fortunate to have this. We feel we have earned this and we have done an incredible job and very proud of our coach and our teach. At this time I'd like to introduce Coach Dantonio.
COACH DANTONIO: I just want to echo what Mark Hollis has said, and add a couple things.
First of all, we are going down there to represent not only the Big Ten Conference, but the entire Michigan State University, alumni base and university. I think that you don't get these type of opportunities like the Capital One Bowl without, first of all, a great administration, great media exposure by John Lewandowski, and without the support of our administration and all aspects, without the support and really the representation of Michigan State University and the entire country. Very thankful to be part of that.
I want to thank our seniors. Last year's seniors gave us a little step towards moving in the right direction, and this year's seniors boosted us up to a New Year's Day Bowl game. They did an outstanding job in the memorable year, 9-3, and pretty much been in the top 20 for the last four or five weeks. All of the different things that go along with that: Third-place finish, New Year's Day Bowl game, Capital One Bowl game, which to me, represents one of the finest Bowls in America. I remember my experience down there in 1999, before the millennium I guess, and without question was one of the greatest experiences we had as a family and will always be remembered.
So we are looking to duplicate that in terms of making a great journey for our players and a great experience for our players, not just in the game, but the entire eight days or whatever we are going to be down there are.
In reference to Georgia, University of Georgia, outstanding football team, 9-3, picked by many people to be 1 or 2 in the country this year. Have a deep amount of respect for Coach Richt and what he stands for as a person and the way he runs his football program.
In a lot of ways, they sort of mirror where we are at in terms of how they got there. You know, five, six, seven, eight years ago he was hired, and he made great strides in their football program. If we can get to that level, and have that longevity in terms of what he's been able to do with their program, I know we'll be thrilled.
I think they have an outstanding football team. Outstanding quarterback, skill players; Moreno, their tailback, with Javon, the Doak Walker Award; the ceremony is down in Orlando on Thursday. So obviously they are a very, very good football team.
I think we are where we are at because of the close games that we have been able to win this year. Certainly, whether it's coming down the stretch, sort of distancing ourselves in the fourth quarter or winning right at the end of the game, we have won the games against the people that we have played because of a great deal of character and a great deal of intangibles that take us forward. Again, appreciate our senior leadership and our football team for being able to do that.
As far as our football program, just echo what we have said before: We are a work-in-progress and this is the next step. I think we have a very strong foundation at this point, and we will continue to move this program forward as we embark on the 2009 season.
So, with that, extremely excited about this, and I can't tell you how much this means to this football program and this university in general.
Final thoughts would be that I think we'll be very, very well represented down in Florida by the Spartans that live there and I guess you could say the snowbirds that go down, and I can't tell you how many people I ran across just coming out of the arena saying they will be there. And we expect a great following down there, and the Spartans have always traveled well to Bowl games, and I'm sure this will be no exception.

Q. Obviously you're a guy that talks about goals. Talk about getting those extra practices and what they mean to where you're going as a program?
COACH DANTONIO: Well, we will try to have 15 practices, and that's the equivalent of an entire spring practice. We have already had three this past week of what we would call fundamental practices where we have been able to work our younger players and improve a lot of the players, switch positions around; just do some different things to try and allow us to become a better football team.
So I think it's invaluable and also sends a message in terms of confidence in terms of the reality of the situation and where we are at. We need to start thinking of ourselves as a regular in post-season play, and I think that's where we are at. I think two years into this, we could look at our football team and see that the expectations are to be there and to always be practicing and playing in December. And I think that sends a message not only to our football team that's currently here, but to all of the recruits that are thinking about coming to Michigan State.

Q. The fact that the Big Ten has won the last four Capital One Bowls, does it mean anything or have any kind of relevance?
COACH DANTONIO: Well, I think the biggest relevance to me is beating the University of Georgia. In both cases, both football teams were 9-3. A 10-3 football team will see us ranked -- one of the two teams, I'm sure, ranked in the Top 15 in the nation. When you look at that aspect, that gives you a great amount of excitement to be able to go and play and to win ten football games; you have a tremendous season. So I look forward to that.
In terms of how people are represented, you know, you have to go back four years. It's tough to evaluate that for me. I'm sort of not answering that I guess. But I'm looking forward to playing ten games and to playing a great opponent and regaining a little bit of respect after our last game. We'll be mentally ready and we'll be motivated.

Q. Talk about this impact and another step and how it affects your recruiting being in the January 1 game.
COACH DANTONIO: As I said before, everything in our program, we are a work-in-progress. We are having an outstanding recruiting year this year, 16, 17 commitments now, but I think these final guys that we take, you know, there's that aspect of being in the national media for this next month or so.
There's also that thought when you're looking at juniors, which recruiting has been so accelerated now when you're looking at juniors, and actually talking about those young men and setting our sights on those people; they see and perceive us as one of the prominent teams in the Big Ten Conference. And I think that, you know, that's the correct way to view us at this point.
I want to bring up one player at a time. I'd like to bring up Javon Ringer. Javon is a finalist for the Doak Walker Award, and he will be down in Florida in Orlando on Thursday to represent us in that award. He's had an outstanding year.
When I think about, if you come to our new facilities and you see great moments, great teams, great future, when you talk about great players in the history of Michigan State football, I think Javon Ringer is one of those and I'd like to bring him up here at this time.
JAVON RINGER: Well, following up on what Coach said, this is a great step for our program. We are very excited and blessed for this opportunity we have and definitely to play against a team like Georgia. We know we have been prepared kind of somewhat now and a lot of our players, we have kind of anticipated this and pretty much figured we would be playing Georgia, so already started watching a little film on them. So just excited and thankful for the opportunity.

Q. You personally took a beating over the season. How much are you excited about playing in a game where you have so much time to heal up and be ready?
JAVON RINGER: Very excited. This month, you have a long time before we play those guys, and just letting the body heal up, that's going to be good.
I didn't take that much of a pounding during the season, I don't feel like it. My body still feels pretty good. Just the more time I have to get ready and prepare, the better off I will feel.

Q. Will you pay much attention to your matchup with Moreno, the running back; will you look at how you two guys match up?
JAVON RINGER: Oh, definitely. As a competitor, anything that he does, I'm going to try to top.
You know, it's going to be a big step, because he is a tremendous running back, from last year and this year. He's a tremendous player and a tremendous athlete.
So definitely, I'll look at the matchup. And the competitive side of me, anything that he does, I'm going to try to make sure that I do better to help the team.

Q. What does it mean to you, the fact that you'll be going to Orlando, more than once, and also for the Doak Walker, college football award ceremonies, and then back with your team?
JAVON RINGER: What does it mean for me personally? You know, I feel like I'm blessed just to be able to have the opportunity to go down there, you know, this coming-up week for that award; just to get familiar with the surroundings and I'm going to be staying in the same hotel we'll be staying at when I get down there. Just to get the flavor of the place, I feel like it's a great honor for me, one, to go down there for that award, and to go back down there again with my football family and get ready for this game. So I feel like I'm very blessed and privileged.

Q. After the Penn State loss, players talked about just kind of regrouping and healing up and getting ready mentally and trying to move forward. What's kind of happened over this downtime to move in that direction do you think?
JAVON RINGER: Well, for the team, we tried our best to just kind of put the game behind us, but we have not forgotten about it. We are doing our best to make sure we go over the corrections that we needed to make and just kind of move forward; but yet, still again not forget about it, because it's something that we don't want to carry over within a month to the next game.
That's why a lot of us were very excited and anxious for this game to come very quickly so we could get a win under our belt. And with playing a team like Georgia, just getting the respect back like Coach D said, and that's very important to us.
BRIAN HOYER: It's a great opportunity to go play on January 1 Capital One Bowl. I think Coach Dantonio said it last year after we played in the Champs Sports Bowl: The next step in the progression was the January 1 Bowl game. So that was definitely one of our goals going into this year.
You know, knowing that this Bowl is put on by the same people that put the Champs Sports Bowl on; we had a great time last year and everything was first-class, so we know what we'll get going down there and we are excited. And the opportunity to play against a team like Georgia who was ranked preseason No. 1, had a lot of hype all season long; it's a great opportunity for us to bounce back and get this bad taste out of our mouth.

Q. Do you look at this chance of playing Capital One Bowl sort of redemption for the last Bowl game?
BRIAN HOYER: It is kind of ironic that the two Bowl games that I play in, they will both be in the same stadium.
That game has always left a bad feeling with me. But I feel like I got over that and moved on with this season. But I think it's kind of a redemption for me to go down and play in the same stadium and to play in the better of the two Bowl games and go down and have a good performance and go down and help my team win.

Q. Don't want to get too much into Georgia, but watching film, what do you think about them defensively?
BRIAN HOYER: Yeah, like Javon said, we have kind of been anticipating this and we have got some of their film. I think I watched a couple games. I watched them play against Alabama.
They are definitely athletic, I think everything you would think about an SEC team: Their line is athletic, and their linebacker is, and obviously their secondary. You can see and you just realize why they were preseason No. 1 team. You can see that they have a lot of athleticism and are very sound.
Like I said before, it's a good opportunity and a good chance for us to see where we are at and to go against one of the top defenses in the SEC.

Q. This will be the second Bowl game that you're going to face, and arguably the top NFL quarterback prospect; does that add to your fire a little bit?
BRIAN HOYER: I guess I'm not alone this year. I have got Javon going against Moreno. It's like Javon said about his situation. It's the competitive nature inside you. Obviously I'm not going to be on the field at the same time as Stafford.
It is; it drives you a little bit more. And like Javon said, anything that he does, I'm going to try to top, because I obviously want my team to win. But it's just that competitive nature that you have inside you to go against a guy like Stafford, who like you said is projected to be a high NFL guy if he were to leave.
So that will definitely have some inner competition for me.
JUSTIN KERSHAW: Well, we had great opportunities to play in big games this year, and I don't feel like we made the most of them. I'm just really happy to get a chance to get on the football field again and play against a good opponent.

Q. The night the previous coach was dismissed, you and I were on the phone and you were pretty emotional about this program, and you said you were going to give these fans a January 1 Bowl game, and now it's happened. Talk about what this means to you after what you've been through.
JUSTIN KERSHAW: Well, I just look back on this season, like I said before, we didn't make the most of our opportunities when we had a chance to win big games, and I really just want to get this taste out of my mouth in terms of beating a good opponent.
I think this program is headed in the right direction. We have come a long way in the past two years.

Q. What impresses you the most about this Georgia team? Is it their passing game or running game or having to top their speed? What's the most dangerous aspect of this team?
JUSTIN KERSHAW: I think that overall they are a good football team. Obviously they have a great running back in Knowshon Moreno; the quarterback is impressive, and the offensive line. They are a good zone-blocking team, so that's what impresses me.

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