MSU Red Shirt Freshman Tyler O’Connor Talks Spartan Football For the Last Time This Spring
Q: …Maxwell was just that good this spring. You got to see what Andrew was able to do. We’ve heard Coach D talk a lot about him.
A: Yeah, I know. Maxwell’s great this spring. Obviously in both scrimmages he performed very well. That’s something I’ve learned from. He’s obviously been through this 3 of 4 times and that’s a great advantage he has on both Connor and I. I’m trying to learn and I’m trying to be the best I can be. We’re all trying to help each other out because competition brings out the best. Maxwell’s had a really good spring and obviously I think that puts him on top. But then again, it’s not over. We’re all still competing.
Q: How much are you looking forward to getting gout in Spartan Stadium and being able to do something Saturday?
A: I’m really excited. Obviously we’ve practiced a couple times over there and scrimmaged over there, but putting thousands of people in there adds a whole different dimension. You can play the crowd noise on the speakers, but that doesn’t quite do it either. So it’s gonna be really exciting and I’m excited to show people what I can do.
Q: What do you think you’re most looking forward to? Just getting into that game situation again?
A: Yeah. I just found out that we’re not gonna be live I guess, but feeling like all the pressure’s on you, that heat coming down on you, that’s a feeling that I like and I feel like I thrive in that situation. So it’ll be nice. We’ll see what that brings out in all the quarterbacks. Hopefully they’ll perform very well.
Q: With a quarterback like yourself, when you turn it up and run, would you talk to Coach and say, I really don’t have a problem with…
A: Yeah, I’ll definitely say something to Coach D. Because he’s always right behind the play. All he has to do is tell the defense we’re live. I’ll definitely put that in.
Q: So you’ll lobby for that?
A: I will. I definitely will. You feel more into the game. You feel like you have to be able to escape, you can’t sit in the pocket like you’re untouchable. That’s just not football. That’s just not how it works.
Q: For a guy like you too, there’s gotta be times when a guy grabs your jersey and they blow the whistle and you think, Man I wasn’t going there.
A: Yeah, and I’m sure every quarterback feels that way. But me, especially, I feel like I have that extra escape-ability. I feel like I showed that in scrimmage, both scrimmages, as well. So I feel like it would be at a slight disadvantage for me not to be live. So hopefully we can pull for that.
Q: Tyler, normally there’s a quarterback and then there’s everybody else. But the way that Coach has talked about changing the offense a little bit and adding some quarterback run to it, is it possible that if Andrew is the starting quarterback that there will be packages for you where you can come in certain points of the game give the defense a different look?
A: That might be possible. We’re still exploring a lot of things with Coach Warner and I think he’s still feeling things out as the coordinator. We haven’t really talked much about that, but perhaps. Hopefully that is the case. I’m just looking to get out there and help the team in any way that I can. Whether it’s getting my 2 cents in on the sideline or hopefully I can get out there and make some plays on the field. But not specifically. There hasn’t been any discussion on specific packages for certain people. But like I said earlier, there has been kind of a tendency for me to maybe get some more run plays than some of the other guys. I’m open to whatever, but there hasn’t been much discussion on that.
Q: You study defenses in your position. What would that mean to a defense to know that, Okay. Maxwell’s coming out, O’Connor’s coming in. You gotta watch this, this and this.
A: Right. When we see the defense, when we run our new read plays our defense isn’t, quite frankly, used to seeing from us, you can see the defense flowing. Especially with our defense, how fast they are, how fast they flow. You make them take one extra step that way that busts things wide open on the backside. So I think that’s a big thing that our offense can use to our advantage. Get people flowing the wrong way, and then before you know it Nick Hill’s running down the sideline.
Q: Has that been an equalizer to you, adding that to the offense? Because a lot of times when I watched scrimmages, the defense, they know the play as soon as you line up or hear the call. Is that option, has that added a little…
A: I believe it does. Especially being in spring ball, you’re kind of starting over. You’re putting everything back in from scratch. These are new things that last year, like I said, didn’t really see from us throughout the season. So I think it does. I think it does a lot. When we watch film you can see the defense flowing one way to a fake and we read it and we cut back the other way. I think it definitely puts the defense at a disadvantage and us at an advantage.
Q: Have you learned to slide yet?
A: I have not. I have not slid since I’ve been here.
Q: Did we not talk about this before you got here? You’re killin’ us.
A: We did. I haven’t taken too many big hits downfield. I forget who told me this, but if you’re quick enough you shouldn’t take too many big hits. You should kinda dodge and maybe roll off hits and things like that. Maybe until someone proves me wrong, then I’ll keep doing what I’m doing.
Q: Coach was talking about going non-live with quarterbacks, and making decisions. Are you gonna go in there because your game, if it’s not live, it doesn’t get to be shown as good as it is. Is that something you’re gonna go in and lobby and say, Hey why aren’t we hitting it?
A: Yes. We just had this conversation. I think it hurts me, it puts me at a disadvantage not to be live. I feel like that’s an extra part of my game. Escaping the pocket, getting on the run, things like that. Like I said, every quarterback feels that way when defense gets around you feel like you can escape. Especialy for me, I feel like I can make that play and escape.
Q: Those of us that have known you a long time know the way you play. When you get licked, you almost play better. You almost begin to play pissed off.
A: Right. I think there’s a lot of truth to that. Especially playing scout team last year, taking those late hits every once in a while. Those kind of jumpstarted you right back into it. It starts off as just a normal Wednesday practice, but they hit you one time and it’s like, Alright. Let’s go.
Q: Are you old enough to remember Drew Stanton who played here? A lot of people inside the program have quietly started saying that you have that moxie, you have that mojo of a Drew Stanton. What’s that mean to you?
A: Honestly, it’s awesome to be compared to a guy like Drew Stanton. I’ve heard people say his swag that he had here, that kind of thing.
Q: Because he wasn’t arrogant. It was just confidence.
A: Right. I feel like I am a confident individual and you have to be to play this position. But you also have to be able to back it up. To be compared to him, that’s awesome. Quite frankly, I haven’t really proved it to anyone yet. So we’ll have to wait and see.
Q: Travis Jackson said to me the other day…I said, What’s it like with Tyler at quarterback? And he goes, Wow. He just likes to watch you play. To have your teammates, the support that they’re giving you, how special is that to you?
A: That’s an awesome feeling. The older guys that are used to having Andrew back there, used to having Kirk Cousins back there, it’s awesome for them to accept me in that role, and like what I’m doing at that position. It’s awesome just to be a part of it. But then again, eventually I want to become the guy that they’re all leaning on and trusting in me.
Q: They’ve bought into you, though. Can you sense that? Because you’re not dumb, you’re smart.
A: Yeah. I feel like I can. Not last fall it wasn’t that way, because I was over with the scout team. If you walk into that huddle and show confidence, show that you’re gonna score this play, they respect that. They get that same feeling. That’s what kinda starts the whole offense. I have felt that, that they’re accepting me and they’re helping me right along.
Q: Last week in practice, practically three feet behind you where you’re standing, you break a play and it wasn’t designed this way. Bennie flies, he takes off because he sees you’re scrambling. You hit him for the long touchdown here in the corner. Is that just a part of your game that most people don’t get, is that you can create when plays breakdown?
A: I think that might have been something I might not have shown enough in high school that I feel like I’m doing more here. I feel like since the defense is flowing more I’m creating more and I’m escaping more. Once you’re out there, it’s pure sandlot football. He’s not designed to run to the side or anything like that. It’s just getting chemistry and feeling what the wide receivers are gonna do. Just making plays.
Q: Last one for you. When Riley comes into the game, this team somehow takes it up a notch energy-wise. Explain that. Why?
A: I think a lot of it is our defense is used to seeing smaller backs that are more shifty and quick and trying to go around people, instead of lowering their shoulder and really running over people. I think that’s something that Riley really brings. He’s over 230+. I live with him, he eats, he lifts when we don’t have to lift and all that stuff. He’s all about being big and that’s something he does and something the offense really likes.
Q: But isn’t that cool, because you play quarterback the way he plays running back and linebacker. You guys have that same mentality.
A: Yeah. Yeah, I can see that. He’s got 20 lbs. on me.
Q: Are you only 210, really? Because I don’t believe you.
A: Uh, a little over.
Q: Yeah, you look… Take it from a fat guy. I know weight. Good to see you, brother.