At the Big Ten Media Days at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place on Thursday, there were several questions asked towards linebackers Max Bullough and Chris Norman asking how they have had such great success with containing Michigan’s quarterback Denard Robinson.
“It’s about discipline when you’re playing a guy like that, that can hurt you in so many different ways and I think that’s what we’ve been able to kind of master when we’ve played them,” Bullough said. “If you trust your teammates and stay with the discipline on the defense, there’s no where to go, we cover up all the holes.”
As a sophomore against Michigan last season, Bullough recorded 8 tackles, including 1 tackle for loss, half of a sack, and a forced fumble in the Spartans’ 28-14 victory.
Norman led the Spartans in tackles in that contest with 10. He described Michigan State’s success against Robinson with one word: “hustle.”
“Defense needs to be able to cover ground,” the senior said. “Over the last few years when I watched the film when we played against Michigan, dudes are flyin’ around. It’s a lot of passion out there. Hustle combined with discipline combined with schematics leads to a really good defense.”
Coach Dantonio had plenty to say on the topic, as he always does about Michigan.
“I think that our scheme has something to do with it,” Dantonio said. “Our players recognize that he’s a great football player and we’re always looking to take away the biggest threat. We’ve always had a guy that simulated him as best we can in practice.”
Dantonio was also asked about his feelings of the Wolverines still being favored over the Spartans this year.
“Competitive game. Big rival game. They do an outstanding job there. But it only matters: Are they favored or not in the locker room? And in our locker room, they won’t be favored. So we’ll start with that.”
Part of the scheme in stopping Robinson is hustle, part of it is discipline in each defensive player knowing his role, and part of it is the absolute importance of that game.