Spartan Nation EXCLUSIVE: MSU All World DC Pat Narduzzi Talks Spartan D
Q: You’re defense is #1 in the country. Are you able to appreciate that?
A: No. It doesn’t matter, really. If we’re there at the end of the year I’ll appreciate it, but right now it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters are wins and losses and that’s all that matters. Because it doesn’t matter what we… I thought we pretty much crushed Notre Dame, in all phases, running and passing. It doesn’t matter because it doesn’t make you feel any better on Sunday morning. It’s still a loss.
Q: I know you love the aggressive cornerbacks, but do they need to look back a little bit more to look for an interception? Or do you like them just face-up on the guy?
A: There was no face guarding. It’s funny, if you watched the game this past weekend…the first play of the game they get an offense pass interference. Which if you look at Darqueze’s holding call, before he held onto the guy, the guy pushed off him. And there was no offense interference there. It was just him holding him. It was him holding him, but before he held him the guy pushed off and he went like, Oh you’re pushing off on me. So if you go back and look closely it is a push-off, clearly. We went back and analyzed and analyzed and analyzed every one of them, from the TV copy to the other copies, and you can’t coach them any better. Harlem Barnett’s the best secondary coach in the country and you can’t coach it any better.
Q: Looking at your defensive line…I know you said Jamal Lyles could move over and play tight end. Are you expecting Joel to get more play time?
A: Joel’s gonna get a lot of playing time. Joel is a machine. At Notre Dame we probably should have played him a little bit more, but we tried to play our #1’s and go with it. It was going so good we that just said, Those guys aren’t tired. To be honest with you, we had some of the starters coming up to us and saying, Coach don’t take me out. You like that attitude out of them. When a defenseman comes up to me and says, Coach don’t take me out unless I’m tired, then I feel like we gotta do that.
Q: Marcus Rush…I feel like we’re seeing more of the old Marcus Rush out of him. Am I seeing that right?
A: What is the old Marcus Rush?
Q: I thought he played well last year, but there were times where maybe not as well as the year before. But now he seems to be playing on that same level all the time.
A: Yeah, I think Marcus Rush has come a long way. Coach Burton has done an unbelievable job with him. He can still play better, no question about it. But we’re happy with him where he is.
Q: Could you talk about the performance of Coach Burton and how you think he’s doing.
A: You know what, I’ll tell you after we get some sacks this week. If not… I’m just kidding. No, he’s done a great job. I like how they penetrate and I like how the guys are using their hands. Obviously we’d like to get some more 4-man pressure. But everybody in the country would like to get more 4-man pressure and nobody’s getting it.
Q: Is this the Denicos Allen of 2011 we’re seeing here in 2013? I love the way he’s playing.
A: Yeah, he had a great game last week. I called him the re-route king against Notre Dame. The things we asked him to do he did a great job and we were happy with what he did against Notre Dame.
Q: Let’s talk about linebackers now. Obviously Taiwan and Jairus are out, but talk about Taiwan’s performance.
A: We’re really gonna miss Jairus, number one. And then Taiwan, ya know, was banged up. Did not play great against Notre Dame but we were still able to play solid. But he’s back to about 95% right now and he practiced great today. So we expect to have him full-go. Darien Harris will get a lot of reps out there as well.
Q: LT was padded up, how did he do today?
A: He was okay. He was okay. We’re still just weaning him in. I think when we saw Kittredge come back, Kittredge… I told our kids afterwards it’s amazing what doubles will do for you or not do for you. It’s hard to go out there and play without having all those doubles. You miss those 20 practices you had in doubles and you can’t make them up in a Tuesday, Wednesday practice. It’s just not gonna happen. He knows that now. He knows that you can’t miss practice and be at the top of your game. I think we’re just getting him to that and it’s gonna be a slow process with LT as well.
Q: Are you at the place with your defense where you don’t really change with each opponent, you want them more to change to what you do?
A: That’s kinda how we’ve been for the last 5 years. We do what we do. We’re sound. I’d say we’re very similar to the Iowa defense…we do what we do. We tweak some things every week coverage-wise and pressure-wise to what we think fits their offense personnel and what they do offensively. So we’ve been like that.
Q: Talk about your safetys and what you think of their performance.
A: With Isaiah being a little banged up against Notre Dame and being 100% now, we could have played him more. He was kinda mad after the game that he didn’t play more than 6 reps. But afterwards I saw him with his head down and I said, Are you alright? He said, No Coach. I know why now. So it was much better that we didn’t have to put him out there. I’m impressed with the way RJ’s playing and I’m impressed with the way Kurtis Drummond’s playing. They’re big-time players.
Q: Talk about your defensive tackles. What are you looking for more of?
A: I’m looking for guys who are staying in the gap all the time. But I’ve been really happy. Tyler Hoover has had a great year so far. Micajah was up and down inside a little bit. Damon Knox didn’t play great against Notre Dame and Scarpinato is really playing well. I like the way he uses his hands and rolls his hips.