News from MSU tonight: It sounds like Joel Nitchman is a real possibility for Notre Dame, and it sounds like J'Michael Deane isn't.
“Right now I don’t know that we’ll have J’Mike," OL coach Dan Roushar said. "But we anticipate that Joel could be ready for us, and we’re of that mindset, so we’re going down there with that in mind. You know and just go from there. But we’ve had to make some changes in and out of there. … We just have to do it better than we’ve been doing it.”
So there may be more shuffling there. And Pat Narduzzi made it clear that freshman Chris Norman will get some of senior Brandon Denson's snaps at linebacker. Narduzzi was asked if he was happy with Denson's play in the CMU game.
“No comment. ... I mean there was something wrong –- no, I’m not happy with his play. I mean you’d have to be, you know, whatever, but no I wasn’t happy with his play. Plain and simple.”
So does that mean more Norman?
“Yeah, yeah. No doubt about it.”
About 15-20 snaps for Norman is the plan, Narduzzi said. Changes may be in order with the third-down nickel defense as well.
“Decker was an average pass rusher last week, and he’s got to get better or he’ll be replaced,” Narduzzi said.
Have you looked at that position?
“Just a little bit, yes. A little bit, so that means, yes, right?”
Anyone in particular you can tell us?
More from Roushar and Narduzzi:
* Narduzzi on putting extra emphasis on avoiding penalties.
“No doubt about it, you re-emphasize it, but it was never de-emphasized at all, ever. And you know, you just wonder what happened. A lot of things you can’t do anything about –- pass interference calls. Jeremy Ware’s call was maybe one of the worst I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I mean he cut the receiver off just like you’re supposed to, I mean there was no holding, no hands. So penalties are gonna happen at times. You don’t like the unforced penalties. You’re gonna have a pass interference, you’re gonna have a roughing the passer, which again was another average call in my opinion. But I’m not an official, I’m just a coach. But it’s jumping offsides and little things like that that annoy coaches.”
* Narduzzi on whether MSU can pressure Jimmy Clausen with its front four.
“I think we can, yeah. I mean, Trevor got pressure last week pretty good, like we anticipated. He missed two sacks. Ran right by the guy. You run right by the guy you won’t get any so, you know, we’ve got to make plays. It comes down to making plays. But we can get there, and when you get there you’ve got to make plays.”
* Roushar on the importance of Nitchman on the field.
“He’s the quarterback of the offensive line, you can never replace the experience that he has. I think that he sets the tone and the tempo for how we come in and out of huddles and I think there’s a certain degree of confidence that he brings to the table for everybody. Because everybody, I think relies on that experience. And I thought John (Stipek) stepped in and did a nice job, but I think it’s big when (Nitchman) steps to the line of scrimmage and identifies a front or can see an indicator of a pressure, and he’s able to execute it and get our offensive line to execute it.”
* Roushar on the overall play of the line.
“The breakdowns that we’ve had are, in my mind, inexcusable. They’re fundamental breakdowns, they’re not assignment breakdowns, so those are things that I think that we can fix. But that’s up to our guys. Our guys have to be willing to fight, stay in there and be strong.”
* Roushar, asked if it's true that Tuesday's practice was the "toughest of the Dantonio era."
“Maybe the kids feel that way, but in my opinion it was pretty much the way we do things.”
Was it especially tough?
“Not for me, it wasn’t.”