This first quote is Hazell's opening statement. I didn't want to just drop it in without comment though. For those who think this team is slowly starting to trend upward you're going to be nodding in agreement here. For the other folks...well...I'm just gonna duck.
Well, obviously you look back at last week's game and didn't end the way you like it to end. But just looking at our guys on Sunday after the game, I am so inspired by our football team and how close we are. A lot of times you work at something and you keep working and you fail, you work and you fail, and all of a sudden you don't realize how close you are to where you want to be and that's what you're seeing in our guys' eyes in the locker room after the game. The understanding that they are getting there, they just have to take that next step. A lot of things in that next step is obviously our tackling's got to get better, our penalty situations have to get better, and we have to be able to finish halves and finish games. Like I said earlier, I am very inspired by our football team right now.
What concerns you about Michigan State's Offense?
They're going to run power and they're going to run power to the tight side, they'll run it to the split side. And when they get running power, they'll run some other type of gap scheme. They'll throw it as well as they need to throw it, but they're just very consistent in what they do offensively. And then defensively, they've always been very good. They play that matchup on the outside with those corners and they play those safeties in the box, they dare you to throw it and they obviously want you to run the football.
What's going on with third down (d)efense?
Two of those third-down conversions, Pete, were missed tackles. They were tackles for losses and that's one of the areas that I talked to our defensive staff here this morning about doing the drill today because they're getting there fast, but they're moving too fast at the point of the tackle. Just slowing down and making sure we buy some time in getting that guy on the ground. A lot of those third-down conversions were missed tackles and that's one of the areas we need to improve on.
What the struggles at the end of halfs?
I think some is scheme, but some is also mentality. You know, you hate to say you've got to really button things down from a mentality standpoint. Okay, this is what you can give up, this is what you can't give up in these situations. And each opponent's a little bit different, but we can't allow teams to go down two or three minutes to go in the half and change the momentum, more so -- not so much the score, but the momentum of the football game.
What can change defensively?
I thought in the Marshall game, yes. Not necessarily the last game. The Marshall game, I thought we could have played a little bit more of crowd the receivers, don't give them the easy throws. I felt we did a little bit more of that last week, we just didn't tackle well. Once they got inside the 20, we didn't tackle well in the run game.
Injury updates on Jimmy Herman and D.J. Knox
We're going to take a look at Jimmy today, see how far advanced he is with the hamstring. Still a questionable guy forSaturday. D.J. Knox is going to get out and run around a little bit. All the x-rays were negative so he's just dealing with a helmet bruise in the back, so we'll see however along he is and we'll make some decisions from there. (Indiscernible) is another guy that is a questionable guy. He's got to clear out by tomorrow for him to be able to go on Saturday.
Defensive key against the Spartans
Yeah, the key for us this week defensively is to stop the power run. That means that you've got to eliminate gaps and get the linebackers close to the line of scrimmage and hit the gaps that are vacant and make sure that we wrap them up and make it a 2-yard gain and not a 7-yard gain.
Was DeAngelo Yancey bound to bounce back this year?
I wasn't sure, could have gone either way. But I am so proud and pleased with DeAngelo, how he's playing, the speed that he's playing at, the confidence that he's playing at. I can't be more happy for a guy right now because, you know, again it's one of those things where he has a relatively good freshman year for a freshman, comes back, does not have a good year as a sophomore. Now which way's it going to go? He's taken all the right approaches and he's helped us tremendously because of his play right now, the way he's gone.
You just don't know, you don't know how a guy's going to perform. I thought one of the things that he lacked last year -- two things, actually, was being a physical guy, whether it was in the passing game or the run game, and sometimes when you're not physical, you're not physical, you know. That's something like Dick Vermeil used to say: If he's not going to bite as a puppy, he's not going to bite you, right? So one of the things about, you never know if a guy's going to be able to take that next step of being physical, and he's been physical for us both in the run and the pass game.
You know, when we got into camp, for sure. He had a great summer, you saw that, but still he hadn't put the pads on. But once we got into camp and he started playing at the speed he was playing at and how he was using his body to leverage defenders, we said he's got a chance to be pretty good again.
What did Hazell like about the team during non-conference play? And what do they need to do better?
Well, they're competing. That's the first thing you look for in guys is how hard they'll compete to give themselves -- if you don't compete, you don't have a chance, but if you compete as hard as you possibly can. I told them on Sunday, we talked about a lot of thingson Sunday, one of the things I told them is I still think you can compete that much harder. But you give yourself a chance if you compete hard.
Like we talked about, we've got to tackle better, we've got to stay away from those critical penalties, and obviously you have to be able to finish a half, that last three to five minutes of the half, and then obviously you've got to make the field goals and finish the game.
How do you address the penalty situation?
We always address it. We had four penalties in the first half, we had two offsides on the defense, we had a guy lined up in the backfield, and then we took a delay of game in the punt unit, which is a noncritical situation there. Then in the fourth quarter alone we had six, four of them were hands to the face or face mask. We had an unnecessary roughness, which I don't know what you tell the kid on that one, I thought it was a good hit, and the other one was a pass interference against Danny E. So we have to get better at technical things of keeping our hands out of guys' faces obviously, but we address all those things constantly.
On the greatness of Jarrett Burgess
Well, we're going to continue to try to feed him with the ball because he's fast, he's legitimately fast. He's getting more and more comfortable. One of the things as a young player, he's a 25-year old freshman that he's still learning the game, learning the speed, learning how to control the football. That's one of the things we were concerned about early was how well he'll handle the football and take care of the football. But the more and more we can get the ball in his hands, the better off we're going to be because he's a good player.
Hazell alluded numerous times to an interesting addition to the backfield. No specifics were given but here are some "Highlights" of those exchanges.
You'll see something a little bit differently this week with someone else in the backfield, but we're also going to add something to the package each week.
You were trying to be coy when you mentioned you would have a third guy in the backfield this week. Who is it?
DARRELL HAZELL: Another guy.
Q. You said another guy?
DARRELL HAZELL: Yes.
Is your mystery person in the backfield a running back?
DARRELL HAZELL: When he's in the backfield, he will be, yeah.
Your weekly Danny Anthrop update
His mind's in a good place right now, I really think that. Without giving up the conversation we had on Friday night at our dinner, I think his mind has flipped over to a great place right now, and I think because of that, he feels so much better about where he is health wise and I think he's going to continue to get better and we've got to continue to get him more and more touches. I think he had five touches last week, he's got to double that this week.
So there you have it. We know players are doing okay health wise and in Anthrop's case seem to be improving rapidly. We also know there is going to be a mystery entrant into the backfield. Who do you think it could be? Anthrop? Burgess? Appleby?