LB Coach Mike Tressel Talks Not Only MSU, but Iowa
…steps up, takes off and runs, and you can see some speed out of him. So you have to collapse the pocket. You need to always have someone have eyes on him so when he does take off you can rally. So he does it with his hands, throwing and his feet.
Q: Weisman did a lot of things last year, but it looks like all those things improved this year. Would you agree with that?
A: Yeah. We need to be prepared to have the most physical game of the year. There’s no doubt about it. Whether you’re at their football building or ours, I’m sure we’re both preaching the same thing…You get in there, you be ready, you take one playoff and it can cost ya. That type of thing. Their offensive line, Weisman, they seem to be hitting on all cylinders. They’re on the same page. They keep it simple. They understand exactly what they’re trying to do. The back trusts the line, even if the hole’s not there yet, that it will be when he gets there. Vice-versa, the trust in the back as well. You can see the running game working.
Q: What happened on the 37 yard run? I wasn’t there in the 4th quarter last season. Where was the breakdown?
A: It’s 2013 now. What are you talking about? No, they got us in our nickel package. Probably our guys were on the field thinking more pass than run. He broke a couple tackles. That’s what a big back can do periodically. You make sure it doesn’t happen.
Q: What makes stopping their run game so difficult?
A: I think they do a great job creating angles for their combination blocks on the O line. They always find a formation where they can get the combo to the second level. They can get a hat on the backer, find a formation that is not gonna allow backers to run free. And then as soon as one guy decides they’re gonna make this play slip back door and he doesn’t make it, all of the sudden their big play’s happening. You pound every single play, gotta get it, pound every single play, get worn down. Then you try to make a play one time…
Q: So it’s a team that you have to almost be more cautious with?
A: No, no. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that you’re gonna have a hat on you every play. Quite honestly you’re probably not used to have a 300 lb. hat hit you every single play. You can’t get frustrated if you’re not the guy making the play. You need to keep building your part of the wall. As soon as you start to think, Man I’m crashing every play and I’m not making any tackles and let me try this… You see that as games progress, guys try something a little bit different and then big plays happen.
Q: So you’re playing gap control pretty much?
A: Yeah, gap control…you’re part of the wall. You’re gonna have to go hit it head-on. Most of the time you’re just gonna have to go hit it head-on and know that somebody…if we all do it, if we all trust each other…someone’s going to make that play. You better have everybody doing it, though. That’s what they count on. They count on one guy not being assignment sound and because of his own football, Wiseman does a good job of finding it.
Q: BTN Network did this thing where 22 of their 31 run plays were to the left side. Was that a personnel thing, formation thing…
A: I didn’t see that, but that’s the exact same numbers I came up with from the Minnesota game. However, then of course you find something like that and you tally out all the other games and it wasn’t like that. I’d go so far to say maybe it was a coincidence, one game, or maybe they found something they were attacking against Minnesota. Iowa State’s a huge rivalry game for them, so if they really felt like this is something they have to do, the same tendency would have held up against Iowa State; and it didn’t. So it did in that one game and certainly we’ll be aware of it if they’re trying to do that against us. But it hasn’t shown to be every game.
Q: What have you seen from Hicks at star the last couple of days?
A: I’ve seen a motor; a guy that just cuts it loose and runs around. He doesn’t have to worry about as many, what we call, fatal mistakes up there playing that star position. So he can just use his motor and be reckless.
Q: Darien is still the 2 there right?
A: Yeah, Darien Harris. Absolutely.
Q: Do you anticipate Taiwan pretty much staying out there, is that the idea?
A: Taiwan’s good to go right now so we’ll…
Q: But even in the nickel?
A: Oh, the nickel? We have a few different options. We have a few different options. But yeah, I think Taiwan’s gonna play the bulk of it.
Q: How different is this Taiwan Jones from the one we were watching last year?
A: Taiwan Jones last year, every play was the same. It didn’t matter if it was a 3 wide receiver set or a pro set. It didn’t matter if it was 3rd and 5 or 1st and 10, he would just try to get lined up and read his keys and play. Which, that’s step 1. But you wanna get to steps 2, 3, 4 as fast as you can. Much more discipline with his eye control and his keys. He’s getting more technically sound, which with that big strong body is fantastic. And then he also has a pretty good idea of the situation out there on the field. Every play’s not the same. He recognizes different personnel groups, different downing distances, formations, maybe can anticipate something. We talk about how much faster you can make a play if you anticipate the one that’s coming, as opposed to starting from scratch every down.
Q: Mark talked about Special Teams and explosive plays… Is Macgarrett Kings the kind of guy that you think can provide not only a punt game but a kick game as well?
A: Yeah. I think he can. I really do think he can. I think his maturity level, his focus every single play is what we’ve been working on and I think it’s where we want it to be right now. He’s explosive, no doubt about it. He’s quick twitch, he’s fearless and he now understands that every play… Especially on special teams, when you’re talking about 40, 50 yards of field position every time, everyone’s critical you better be locked in every time. And I’m seeing that.
Q: He said trust was a big thing that he had to gain to get this chance. What have you seen that’s given you more trust in him?
A: Well, even in practice…even in pre-practice warm-ups, catching punts, catching kicks, you can see it in his eyes and in his feet that every one of these reps is important. He’s not just going out there and throwing his hands up to catch the ball. He’s actually camping underneath it, getting quiet feet as we’d say, catching the ball high, doing the technically important things even in warm-ups to show us, You can tell me every time. So that’s where’s he’s really taken a big step forward. And then develop the opportunities, that explosiveness. If you don’t show that we can trust you on the field… And that’s what he’s done.
Q: How big is it for you guys to get more explosion there?
A: No doubt about it. Huge change of field position every play in the kicking game. So if you can find a guy that could make a difference there…you can look at NFL stats, you can look whatever you want…you can make big plays anywhere to change field position, especially in a game like Michigan State/Iowa. It’s so smashmouth, you can’t even find ways to get yards before you even put your offense on the field.
Q: What are some of the differences in guys being successful in those two positions, that makes them good at one or the other?
A: Probably the biggest difference is, as a punt returner, probably gonna be people in your personal space as you catch the ball. Whereas a kick returner, you’re getting an opportunity to set something up and hit it full speed. So a kick returner is going to be able to use more speed. He’s gonna be able to try to set up a return and then hopefully run through some arm tackles because he’s got his momentum going. No dancing, you need to get vertical. Whereas a punt returner might have to make a quick move immediately to make a guy miss before you even have an opportunity to get vertical. So there’s two completely different fearlessness factors at those positions. As a punt returner it’s, I could get hit immediately. As a kickoff returner it’s, I’m gonna be going full speed and I can’t stutter and I gotta running through the smoke. So those are the differences, but sometimes you’ve got a guy who’s both of those things.
Q: What about Geiger? Did you ever realistically think that you might be able to redshirt him?
A: Yeah, we thought realistically we might be able to redshirt him. But you need to hit them all. That’s our attitude when it comes to field goals. We’re not gonna try to put you in a position where we don’t think you should make this kick, unless maybe it’s the last play of the half or the last play of the game. Other than that, we’re gonna put you in a situation where we expect you to make it. We missed a couple that were certainly very makeable and we have confidence that Mike performs on the highest stage when the pressure’s on. From what we’ve been able to put pressure on him at this point, he’s done a good job.
Q: Are Riley or Delton getting some reps with you at all this year?
A: Have we talked about it this year?
A: Not really a whole bunch. I think either of those guys could be great linebackers in the long run. I’d love to get my hands on them. But certainly there’s no doubt, when you’re in this program, it’s always what’s best for your team.
Q: Where was Darien Harris repping before Jairus went down? Was he kinda all over the board and now he’s focusing on an every down star? How’s that looking?
A: He’s an every down star. Anytime. Especially a younger guy who’s got a ton of game experience, if you can get him to focus on one position that’s better for your team. But before Jairuss’ injury we had 7 guys that we considered two-deep guys. So there was a little bit of mobility between Darien and Kyler. Those were the guys that bounced around a little bit. Now Kyler’s a mike, Darien’s a star.
Q: And because he bounced around he’s able to plug in right now and…
A: Oh yeah. And not miss a beat. His mental part of the game in knowledge was fine at all positions, but it sure is nice getting the reps at only spot.