December 20, 2011
Narduzzi impressed with UGA's quick passing game
EAST LANSING - Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi is preparing to face a Georgia offense powered behind an offensive line as big as Wisconsin's with a no-huddle offense that gets the ball to skill players quickly. Reynolds impressing defensive coaches at DT: Injuries to Kevin Pickelman and Johnathan Strayhorn have led Michigan State move Micajah Reynolds back for his third tour of duty on the defense.
"They really get the ball out quick," Narduzzi said. "First we thought it was three step. It's a real quick five passing game, so they don't really give you a chance to get much pressure on them, so we're going to have to be very careful with pressure because they'll beat you with the ball."
Michigan State's speed on defense will allow the Spartans to match-up with what Georgia does on offense without trading linebackers for defensive backs.
"We've got our outside linebacker on the field that's pretty athletic and he can play the run and the pass pretty well based on what he needs to do, so we feel pretty good with our base personnel," Narduzzi explained. "They're a no huddle offense, so if we would have to go five or six D backs, you struggle getting those guys in, then they'll snap the ball quick and get you with too many illegal participation. So that's one of our advantages to a no huddle is we don't have to switch our personnel."
Georgia's receivers are not as explosive a Mohammed Massaquoi and A.J. Green were three years ago when Spartans faced Georgia in the Captial One Bowl, but the Bulldog receivers are a handful and there is a good chance that they will have futures in the NFL like their predecessors.
"Well, they had one young guy three years ago, and that was A.J. Green," explained Narduzzi. "He was the baby. But Massaquoi if I recall was a senior, I think. So they had one older one and I think they both had just under 1,000 yards receiving. Those were their two go to guys. This year they've got more guys, they've got more depth there, but I don't know if they've got the talent of those two guys. Don't get me wrong, I don't know if they're first round, second round, but those were two excellent players. You don't see them being featured like A.J. Green and Massaquoi, but they're great players, and I'm sure they'll play at the next level, too."
Narduzzi is impressed with the chemistry between tight end Orson Charles and sophomore quarterback Aaron Murray.
"His favorite target is his tight end, probably his roommate," said Narduzzi. "You'd have to ask them if they're roommates because they look like it and they went to high school together, so I'm assuming."
True freshman tailback Isaiah Crowellhas also caught the eye of Michigan State's fifth-year defensive coordinator.
"I think he's a very good football player," Narduzzi said. "I think I've heard they've said it's open for competition. They've gone times during the year where they've put a DB back there, a tailback and receiver, but I think that guy is the guy. I'll be shocked if I don't see him in the starting lineup. He's fast, he's explosive, and I think he's a great football player."
After watching Reynolds during the first four bowl practices, Narduzzi is beginning to believe that the 300-pound sophomore from Lansing Sexton belongs on the D-Line permanently.
"Yesterday we just went into unit meeting, then we're breaking individually, going in with coach (Ted) Gill, and I grabbed him by the shoulder and said, 'you know what, if you keep playing like that you'll never see the O line again, okay'" said Narduzzi. "So he's played exceptionally well, and really surprised us defensively because he's back and forth, and he's had great recall. So if he plays really, really good, the offense may not see him."
Young Defenders stand out: Having Reynolds on the D-line could be important, especially if junior Jerel Worthy foregoes his senior year for the NFL Draft.
But that does not mean that the cupboard is bare on the defensive line. Narduzzi continues to be impressed with the young defensive linemen in the Michigan State program.
What he has seen during bowl practice has given Narduzzi confidence in the future of the program on defense.
"Some of the young guys, again, there's been a bunch of them. We haven't had as many of those young day practices as we have in the past because of that championship week. But Lawrence Thomas stands out to me. He's a big, physical guy that had a chance for at least two days this week to step up and play. He's physical, gets the defense lined up, tough. He's done a nice job.
"Thomas, Ed Davis and Darien Harris are going to be three excellent linebackers for us, all three of those guys with LT. That is a good linebacking corps. I think I may have told you back in the fall, I don't think we missed on one kid on defense last year, so every freshman that came in I could say some about, whether it's Trae Waynes or R.J. Williamson is going to be a great safety for us, and both those guys will play a lot for us next year, I can tell you right now.
"And then on the defensive line, Damon Knox, every one of them, James Kittredge, Brandon Clemons, Shilique Calhoun, he gets in the other day against the one offense, and he's in two plays, he gets a sack. He's going to be a great player for us. So we've got a lot of guys here that have showed up, and they show up every day on the scout team. Our offense tells us about it. So we don't need a Bowl practice to find out if those guys are players are not. They do it every day I hope."
Click below for Narduzzi's portion of the media day press conference.
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