September 30, 2003
Head Coach Gerry DiNardo:
GD: "We are banged up on the perimeter, I don't think Roby and Haney will play this week so we have to make some adjustments. It is that time of year, going into mid season, so we will have to adjust and see who can take their places as we go through practice. I'd say the biggest points of emphasis are obvious, our pass offense and our pass defense, the good news is you can work on that at the same time, just go against one another. We will do some of that this week, we will work IU vs. IU and not be so concerned about the game plan and what they do. A zone is a zone, a drop is a drop, and an out is an out. Sometimes you are better off not worrying about your opponent, but worrying about yourself, especially when your problems are similar on both sides of the football, so we will have some pass offense against some pass defense to see if we can complete a pass and stop a pass."
On what specifics you saw from the first half of the Michigan game on film:
GD: "I don't think we competed on offense. I don't think it was physical, it was more mental. We weren't tough enough, and didn't compete enough, because we called the same plays the second half against the same defense. I think it was more of a mindset. Our offense has to be more to be more exact, more physical. Maybe they ought to be coached more aggressively."
On team being intimidated:
GD: "No I don't think so. You would have to ask them, but I don't think they were."
On Tyson Beattie's adjustment of being so far away from home:
GD: " He is an integral part of the team as far as getting along with the team. He has been here for a while now. He has made some close friends on the team that he goes home with obviously more than he does to Australia. He only goes there once a year, and that is in the summer. What Tyson is doing is difficult. A first time punter in this league is a difficult thing to do. I think he has done a good job with it. He has a lot of upside and I expect him to improve.
On the focus of the pass offense and the pass defense this week:
GD: " I don't think we forget everything else. I think not to make weekly progress is a mistake regardless of who you are playing. We will do things on offense that will hopefully attack their defense. Program wide, we obviously need to continue our improvement in the run game. I do believe we are running the ball better and we are defending the ball better. That didn't happen by accident, that happened by emphasis.
You have to try to avoid emphasizing one thing and deteriorating another. Overall, I would say the two glaring things right now are our pass offense and our pass defense. Third and fifteen, we cant let them complete a first and ten. It is going to happen, but it shouldn't happen more than 15 percent of the time in college football."
On if he is surprised by how Michigan State has turned its season around:
GD: "I think John L. Smith is one of the top coaches in the country. I started playing against Michigan State in 1971, and don't ever remember them not having talent. I'm not surprised, but you have to remember they put 56 points up against us a year ago. You aren't talking to a guy who didn't think they weren't good last year the day we played them. 56 points is a lot of points. It's not like they came in here last year and weren't any good. My reference point might be different then everybody else."
On Jeff Smoker's abilities:
GD: "He's a very efficient quarterback. He's mobile enough, he's not a scrambler or an option guy, but if you don't contain him, he can cause you problems and run for first downs. I think the Iowa game he was just very consistent and efficient."
On the struggles of the offense against Michigan:
GD: "I'm not happy with any part of our offensive pass game. I don't think the protection is good enough, the routes aren't good enough and we're not throwing the ball well enough. I think we have to look at our teaching methods, make sure we are aggressive enough in our approach and get after these guys to be more exact and pay more attention to detail. The West Coast Offense is a very systematic, progressive detailed approach and I don't think that's where we are right now. So, I don't think it's the quarterback, the offensive line, the receivers or the running backs, I think it's all of them, Until they have a concept that the pass game needs as much as, if not more attention to detail as the running game gets, we won't be any good."
On the defense having to shuffle players each week:
GD: "If we had the same four or five guys maybe it would be different, but we don't. We have to find a way to solve the problem within that rotation of all those guys who are playing. The good news is that a lot of guys are playing and getting experience."
On the progress the kicking game has made:
GD:"Except for the punt return on us, I said this after the game, you can't go into Ann Arbor and win, spotting Michigan 14 points, that punt return was a killer, other than that, I think we have made a lot of progress. If you look at the statistics on where our punt return is ranked in the conference as compared to where it was ranked a year ago, the only kick game that is lower now than it was a year ago statistically is the punt team. If you took that return out, the punt team was seventh in their conference last year. We had a goal to move it up and we were headed that way until that return. If you look at our kickoff returns, punt returns, kickoffs, we are 100 percent on PAT, at this a year ago, we had already missed two or three PATs, so there is a lot of evidence that the kick game is a much further along, and I said that in the beginning of the season."
On the approach of playing two away games in a row:
GD: "I think the way we started the season was unusual playing the first two away, but now in conference play I don't think it's unusual. I haven't studied all of the conference schedule, but I don't imagine we are the only team that will go away for two in a row this season. The beginning was unusual but I don't think this is."