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ROSE BOWL GAME: MICHIGAN STATE v STANFORD


December 27, 2013


Denicos Allen

Darqueze Dennard

Isaiah Lewis


PASADENA, CALIFORNIA

Q.テつ Denicos, yesterday you had the first practice without Max there.テつ What was that experience like having played with him and next to him for so long, and what is it like with the other guys that are in there right now?
DENICOS ALLEN:テつ It's a different experience.テつ I've been next to Max for three years, and for the last game of our season or career here, him not being there is different.テつ But I'm pretty confident in Darien Harris and Kyler Elsworth to step up and I'm pretty comfortable playing next to them as well.テつ Kyler Elsworth, he's a senior, too.テつ He's been with us the whole time, so it's not like something new.テつ We've played next to each other before.
We're just going to have to make some adjustments, and that's what we do.

Q.テつ Coach Narduzzi was just saying guys need to step up and maybe talk a little bit more.テつ Do you find on the practice field you're going to have to be a little bit more vocal than what you've been?
DENICOS ALLEN:テつ Yeah, I'm definitely going to be vocal.テつ As we all know, Max was the vocal point of our defense so everybody on this defense is going to have to step up and be more vocal, and I plan on being as vocal as I can be.テつ Other players have been stepping up, learning the game plan more, and getting their confidence up with knowing Stanford more, and I feel like it's going to be a good challenge for us and nothing we can't handle.

Q.テつ Darqueze, can you talk about what this game means to you guys, your first BCS game especially as a senior?テつ What does it mean to the program at Michigan State?
DARQUEZE DENNARD:テつ I mean, it means everything.テつ Just never been here before, a big stage, and not only for us but past players, as well, that came to Michigan State such as the Kirk Cousins and Trent Robinsons and all the guys before us that played, that had a chance to play in the Rose Bowl.テつ It's the granddaddy of them all like everybody says.テつ It's a big stage for us, not only for teammates, but we're also playing for past teammates, past coaches that never been here, and also for Spartan Nation.テつ We're all blessed with this opportunity, we're glad we're at this stage and we're glad we're playing this great team in Stanford just to showcase how good we are for one last time and just going out on top.

Q.テつ Denicos, when you look at the film, who on the offensive line really stands out?テつ What do you think their strengths are offensively on the line?
DENICOS ALLEN:テつ Really their whole line.テつ They have very experienced offensive line.テつ They're all seniors, most of them are seniors, and they're just physical.テつ You know, try to knock you off the ball, try to pancake you, and we're a physical defense, so they all stand out.テつ It's just a challenge for us, and it's a challenge for them, as well.テつ They haven't seen a defense like us before, or a defense like ours.テつ It's going to be interesting going up against them, but we're all looking forward to it.

Q.テつ Isaiah, it seems like an offense that there's not a lot of tricks to it, not one of these spread offenses or kind of gimmicky things.テつ Do you relish that, an offense that's going to line up and try to beat you?
ISAIAH LEWIS:テつ Most definitely.テつ One of our power parts is stopping the run, and Stanford, they're running the ball, and we see that all the time playing in the Big Ten, that's what you see all the time, teams pounding the ball, stacking a lot of guys on the line just trying to pound the ball, run you down the field.テつ That's one of our things, stopping the run.テつ We pride ourselves on stopping the run, and that's what makes us such a great defense.テつ That's what we're going to do, try to stop the run, let them try to pound the ball, let them do that, get those little yards as they can.テつ Just keep on doing what we do because they're going to do what they do regardless, so we've got to stop the run because that's what they're going to do.テつ It's going to be a good game, going to be a high‑velocity kind of game.テつ We've got to stop the run, and then we'll be good.

Q.テつ For all you guys, I was wondering if you could talk about the different defensive coaches, how they work together and kind of their coaching styles, Coach Barnett, Coach Russell and even Coach Burton.テつ When they get together what are the different personalities and how does that all work together?
ISAIAH LEWIS:テつ I think the different personalities, they all contrast but they all mesh at the right times.テつ Like Coach Narduzzi, everybody knows he's a rah‑rah type guy, he's going to fire you up, motivate you.テつ Also Coach Barnett, he's a little different.テつ He's got a different mindset.テつ He played the game with us so a lot of guys respect him because of that.テつ He says things like he means but he says them in a moderate tone but everybody knows he means it.テつ Coach Tress, he's a fiery guy, as well, and he gets everybody to focus.テつ He calms everybody now when he needs to and refocus everybody, and Coach Burton, he does a great job kind of‑‑ he's a little different.テつ He kind of throws jokes in sometimes, what we really need.テつ So he lightens the group up.テつ With those four guys, they do a great job just all contrasting and all meshing at the right time, and when you get all those guys in a room and the knowledge that they have with watching film and the game plans they make for the games, they do a great job with that, and they all get us prepared for the game.
I think with those guys‑‑ without those guys we wouldn't be the type of defense that we are, but with those four guys, the type of stuff we did this year is all because of them.テつ They did a great job of game planning and putting us in the right positions to make plays.
DENICOS ALLEN:テつ Like he said, they all are different type people, have different personalities, but I think what's most interesting about the four coaches is their knowledge of the game and their style of coaching.テつ They have a unique way of coaching and actually getting players involved and interested in learning the defense.テつ I think that's very unique, not a lot of people know how to do that, and I think they do it pretty‑‑ it's just natural to them.テつ They can teach us something and we'll all be interested in it.テつ It's a different way of learning, but it's an interesting way.テつ You know, just the way their mentality going into games and their energy, they coach like they play, and that's what we like, and that's why we're so involved and so engaged in the defense.

Q.テつ We were talking to Coach Barnett last week about how he played out here 26 years ago and he never would have thought they wouldn't be back in a couple years.テつ He was going to talk to you guys about appreciating that.テつ Has he talked to you about that?
ISAIAH LEWIS:テつ Yeah, he hasn't compared us to the secondary, but he has talked about it to us, telling us how important of a game this is.テつ When you come out here you've got to bring it.テつ You ain't just coming out here to just have fun in LA, party and this and that.テつ You've got ahead and you have to meet that goal, you have to stay focused.テつ You can't just be going out here, you know, thinking that you're going to throw your helmet out there and win this game.テつ You're playing against a high‑caliber team.テつ It's another BCS team.テつ You're not just going out here.
You know, you've got to stay focused, come out here, and enjoy what you're doing, but at the same time just know that to win this game you've got to practice hard and go out here and have fun.
DARQUEZE DENNARD:テつ Yeah, he really hasn't compared the teams with the secondary which he played on.テつ Me and Isaiah played on today, he hasn't compared them, but he also throughout this year he's been saying we've got to get back to the Rose Bowl, just talking to me and Isaiah both, and pretty much motivating us and telling us how it is out here, how the lifestyle is, how big it is, and about the parades and just about the game, just to be in the game, he talks about that.テつ Leading up to this game and throughout the bowl prep at school he told us we've got to have that‑‑ the 50/50 thing.テつ You've got to know when to turn it on and off.テつ Like Isaiah said, this is a business trip.テつ He says this is a business trip and everybody has got to have that business mindset.テつ When it comes to practice you can't be focused on partying or you can't be focused on this and that.
About that, he just told us when you come to practice to have a mindset to get better and focus in.

Q.テつ Isaiah, one of the things that Kyler talked about yesterday was when you went down early this year, RJ had to step up.テつ Can you talk about what the next man up philosophy is like in this defense when you have to replace a guy that's out?
ISAIAH LEWIS:テつ Like you said, next man up.テつ That's the philosophy, next man up.テつ Maybe I've got to do what the guy in front of him was doing, if not better.テつ Got to be a leader out there.テつ You can't go out in the game not knowing what to do and just be out there stuck in there wondering what's going on.テつ You've got to be in the playbook just as much as the guy in front of you was.テつ You've got to basically do what he did.テつ That's basically it.

Q.テつ Denicos, you've used your speed throughout the year to track down a lot of running backs, receivers in the open field.テつ Are you concerned about the size advantage that Stanford seems to have with these tight ends that are going to be pulling on you being one of the smaller backers out there?
DENICOS ALLEN:テつ Not at all.テつ I don't go into games worrying about size.テつ Players make plays, it's as simple as that.テつ Being on this stage, I'm going to step up and play the game I've been playing all year.テつ Nothing has changed, but I've faced a lot better tight ends than what we're facing, and I've faced some good tight ends.テつ I'm not really worried about the size advantage.テつ It's going to be a physical game, and I'm used to it.

Q.テつ As the season has evolved, the offense has obviously matured and caught upper say, but early on this year the defense was legitimately winning games, scoring points.テつ When did that mindset set in that you guys cannot just stop the offense but score points and win games for your team?
ISAIAH LEWIS:テつ Every game we're looking to score points.テつ We're looking for turnovers and make those big plays to help the offense out and help the team win, as well.テつ If we can score on defense, that's the mindset we go in every day.テつ We're looking forward to scoring, pitching the ball, getting interceptions, fumble recoveries or whatever it is to help the team out, and just the turnovers that help the offense out, to have better field position and doing the three‑and‑outs, keeping them down, boxed in towards their goal line so we can give the offense good field position.
The offense did a good job coming around lately, pretty much after the Notre Dame game they came around and had great games after that.テつ I think everybody was really worried about the offense, but we knew what they could do.テつ We practiced with them every day.テつ They've been practicing against the No.1 defense for a year now, so we knew that it was just only a matter of time they started to click, and they got to clicking, and I'm looking for a big stage.テつ It's a big stage for those guys, and I'm looking forward to them making plays and looking forward for us to make the plays, too.

Q.テつ The Big Ten's reputation has taken a little bit of a hit this year compared to other conferences around the country.テつ Do you see this as an opportunity to not only make a statement for Michigan State but Big Ten football?
ISAIAH LEWIS:テつ Most definitely.テつ It's the Big Ten Conference.テつ We're dealing with players just like everybody else.テつ I feel like we can compete with any conference.テつ I feel like the Big Ten is one of the best conferences in the country, and to say that we're not, I think it's not realistic to say it's not one of the best conferences in the country.

Q.テつ Isaiah and Darqueze, one of the things the coaches have talked about is Stanford's max protect and how long the receivers are going to be involved in pass routes.テつ How much of a concern is that and how do you stay in such tight coverage when the plays break down and the receivers start ad‑libbing a little bit?
DARQUEZE DENNARD:テつ It's a big challenge.テつ They've got a lot of good receivers.テつ Ty Montgomery, he's pretty impressive, especially after the catch.テつ He's a great player, along with the other receivers, as well.テつ But I think we've just got to go in with the same mindset.テつ When they do max protect, that means how many guys out for a pass rush, so that means they can get double teamed.テつ It's just another time for us.テつ It's going to be very hard guarding them for a long time you could say, but I've got great confidence in my front seven.テつ I know the guys, when they come and they're going to get down there and get home.
It's a team thing.テつ I feel like I'm not going to be able to hold them for seven seconds.テつ I don't think any defensive back in the world can cover a guy for seven seconds, but I've got faith in the front seven.テつ I know the rest of the secondary do, as well, and those guys will get home and cause pressure in the quarterback's face.
ISAIAH LEWIS:テつ It's going to be a challenge but it's a challenge we're willing to accept.テつ We've had challenges throughout the whole year.テつ We're ready to accept these challenges.テつ The D‑line, I'm confident that they're going to get penetration no matter how many people they put down there to block.テつ I feel like they'll get penetration and make our job easier.
At the same time, you might have to cover a guy for seven seconds, and you got to accept that challenge and cover that guy for as long as you have to.

Q.テつ Is it a little bit like backyard football when the play breaks down?テつ Is it just pure athleticism at that point and the film study goes out the window or are there tendencies?
ISAIAH LEWIS:テつ At that time, yeah, basically you've got to make a play after that.テつ Guys scrambling around, you've got to stay with them.テつ The receivers are going to make a play on the ball, the quarterback is going to make a play, you've got to do the same thing.

Q.テつ Darqueze, their quarterback has been a pretty inspirational player, but he's also been described as a little mistake‑prone.テつ When you look, you've probably seen some of that on the film.テつ Is this a game or are there some games where you sort of lick your chops a little bit saying this guy is going to give us a chance to get our hands on the ball?
DARQUEZE DENNARD:テつ Me personally and I think the rest of the secondary could say it, as well, every game we go into we're licking our chops.テつ We've got faith in our front seven to get pressure in go power in back there in the pocket for the quarterback.テつ He does a lot of great things, he has a great arm.テつ He has confidence in the receivers, which he should have because there's some good players out there.
We go in there with the mindset when the play is there, make the play.テつ We're looking forward to the challenge you could say.テつ He throws it up, our mindset is to bring him down.テつ We're looking forward to the big challenge ahead.テつ Great group of receivers we're going against, and the quarterback does a great job and has confidence with him, as well.テつ It's going to be a good challenge this game, and it's going to definitely be an opportunity for us to make plays.

Q.テつ What have been maybe the cool things that you've seen so far in the last two days out here, and how do you guys try to insulate yourselves maybe from those things becoming distractions?
DARQUEZE DENNARD:テつ I think some of the cool things we seen is the celebrities pretty much, Stephen A, we see him on TV always, like last night Wiz Khalifa and Amber Rose, seeing those people, you get a little star struck at first, but then we all get together and saying we've got to have this mindset, we've got to get tunnel vision to the game.テつ We really don't try to pay too much attention to it, but we're here to enjoy ourselves, as well.テつ This is a once‑in‑a‑lifetime experience.テつ As a team we're going out there for the last time, but we know when to turn it on and when to turn it off.
During practice we're going to give 110 percent on the field, focusing, watching film, give it all we've got, but after practice we get a little downtime and we'll try to enjoy ourselves, as well.テつ But I think no distraction on this team, throughout this team.テつ Everybody has tunnel vision, everybody knows the goal is to come here and win the Rose Bowl and not just to be the name, the participant of the Rose Bowl.テつ I think everybody has got the mindset, put every opportunity into watching film, put effort on the field throughout practice, and making us be the 2014 Rose Bowl champions.
I think there's no distraction here that's going to deteriorate our goal.
One of the things we ain't used to, we ain't been in LA before.テつ We ain't used to warm weather in January and December.テつ We ain't used to all that, snow.テつ But at the same time you've got to stay focused.テつ You've got to go ahead, and our first goal was to get to this game first, to get to this game throughout the whole season, and when you finally get to the game out here, your goal changes, and that's to win the game, and that's what we've got to do.
DENICOS ALLEN:テつ It's a lot of distractions.テつ It would be pretty easy to get distracted.テつ But the type of team we have, I think we handle situations like this well.テつ We know we've come here for a business trip.テつ Our main goal of being here is to win the Rose Bowl.テつ We all know we've got that in our head, but like you said, we're here to enjoy ourselves, as well.テつ Our team will never be here again, so we want to make the most out of this and be grateful for this opportunity of being here and also enjoy ourselves but also when it comes down to handling business, we can switch our enjoyment and make it about business.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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