There was no one more popular after Michigan State’s practice on Tuesday than offensive coordinator Dan Roushar.
He has been under plenty of fire for the offense’s performance this season, but to his credit, he was there to answer any questions.
Say what you will about his coaching, but this is a stand-up guy, no doubt about it. He did the same thing last year after poor performances against Notre Dame and Nebraska and he hasn’t hidden this season.
Roushar’s boss, Mark Dantonio, spent the early part of Tuesday defending him. On Tuesday evening, Roushar faced the media. Here’s a summary of some of the things he talked about:
When I caught up with him, he was going over the final offensive series against Michigan, specifically the pass play on second down from the Michigan State 8-yard line:
“We just don’t execute the play and then I think it’s natural, you go through it, ‘Maybe we should have called a different play.’ Then you look at it and say, ‘No, it was the right call.’ We hit that very same play earlier in the game for about a 17-yard gain. So I think you look at it and say, as a coach, as myself being very critical as we come in and look at everything we do. You try to say, ‘What could we do differently, what could we do better?’ But when things aren’t working obviously you second-guess yourself, that’s the nature of it. We don’t want our kids to and we’re not gonna flinch. We’re gonna just keep doing what we do.”
On he and coach Mark Dantonio agreeing to not be conservative on the final drive:
“We’ve had a number of games here and you try to move the football, keep the football and the game is over. We were not able to do that, so by any means, do what you’ve got to do. You can’t play conservatively in that situation. As you look at it, at the same time you’re protecting a lead and you don’t have field position. So you realize they’ve got two timeouts left and they’re gonna use one. You throw incomplete on first down, now they don’t have to use timeouts, so you know those kind of things go through your mind and at the same time you gotta go execute.”
On missing players, especially on the offensive line:
“You’d love to have all your guys and the reality is you don’t. In the case of Donavon Clark coming in and stepping in and starting, you weren’t quite sure what you were gonna get and I thought he did a pretty darn good job. I was pretty impressed with his poise, thought he was very assignment sound, had a couple problems, but by and large for a guy jumping in and playing like he did I thought he did a good job. Every one of these guys are getting an opportunity and unfortunately we’re a little bit inexperienced in some spots and we’re just not able to get done what we need to.”
On the young offense progressing slower than he had hoped:
“I think every week there is a change. I think that change certainly impacts what you’re doing. I don’t know exactly the numbers and I don’t want it to be an excuse for us. We have to do things better, but our offensive line certainly is not intact, our tight ends are not, the fullback position has not been intact. The wide receivers have changed around quite a bit. Every day you’re trying to come out and see growth and improvement. The more we change the less comfortable they are with what we’re doing and then you don’t see the growth. So there is that double-edged sword we walk and yet we’re trying to find ways to generate offense and move the football and help this football team win.”
On how much they are missing a running back with speed:
“You certainly watch last year and we had that dynamic. Le’Veon is a different style of back and there are times when you look at it. I think there’s times we’ve got to start using Nick (Hill) a little bit more because I think he brings that element, so those are things we talked about. … There’s a lot of things we miss, but right now this is our football team. We’ve just gotta continue to get better and stay the course.”
On the shuffling of fullbacks and tight ends:
“It’s a big factor in what we want to get done. We’ve always felt it starts with certainly the five guys up front, but of course (you want) to have a fullback, to have a tight end that can control the C gap they’re in. As you watch the last two weeks we haven’t played with the tight end nor the fullback much. We’ve been in some different formations and personnel groupings and still not trying to get too far away from who we are. Those things are certainly areas we need to get better in with the people we have.”