Question: What does this rivalry mean to you?
Steve Schilling: “It is a huge rivalry. It is the state championship. When I first got here, they told us that if we don’t win this game, even if you win the Big Ten, you didn’t win the state championship. Obviously getting to play those guys up north every year is a big week for us.”
Question: Do you hear about it from the students when you lost two in a row to them; do you hear a lot from other students?
Steve Schilling: “Not specifically to me, but I know the fan base obviously wants to get a win and having lost the last two years, just as bad as we want to win, all our fans do too. There is definitely a lot of students from that part of the state that go here and vice versa.”
Question: How important is it for you guys as the offensive line to see all the big plays, all the stats that Denard (Robinson) is putting up?
Steve Schilling: “It is fun and it is better for him. Any time he breaks through there, we know he is gone, which is a great feeling to have and if we can open up those holes for him, we know he has the moves and the speed to get into the end zone. That’s our job, the more yards he gains the better it looks for us and we’re happy to keep doing it for him, as much notoriety as he is getting.”
Question: Are some games more physical than others and is Michigan State one of those games and if so does that concern you about Denard and his health and safety?
Steve Schilling: “Michigan State is always a physical game, obviously a heated rivalry like this, guys are coming to bring their best and stick it to the other team. Does it concern me about Denard? No. He is tough and he has maybe been a little banged up the last couple of weeks, but he is a tough guy and he’s probably more banged up than he would led on. He knows how important this week is. He knows the importance of the rivalry and I’m sure he’ll be ready to go. I’m not worried about him at all.”
Question: Where does their front seven differ significantly from the previous teams that you’ve played?
Steve Schilling: “Obviously, we’ve only had one week in conference. Some of the nonconference teams were smaller, Massachusetts and Bowling Green, so the size could present a problem. They have some big guys and we haven’t been able to go in there and really break down too much film yet. We have meetings here in a couple of hours, but definitely as you get into the Big Ten schedule, the size you see week in and week out.”
Question: Are the players over the years have said no matter what happened during their career, the one that they take with them the rest of their life is the last one if they won. Do you feel that way as a fifth year senior, like you want this more than anything because you got to live with it forever?
Steve Schilling: “Yeah I think so definitely. The first time I got to play in the game, we won the game up in East Lansing and having not been able to taste that feeling for the last couple of years. To be able to go out with a win and be able to say that you got Michigan State your senior year is huge.”
Question: How does this one compare to the Apple Cup?
Steve Schilling: “I get that one every year being from Washington but to me it is a bigger rivalry. I was never really able to be on one side of that Apple Cup, Washington-Washington State thing. So it really was never that much, it didn’t really effect me growing up.”
Question: What do you know about Greg Jones?
Steve Schilling: “He’s a great player. Obviously, every year he’s leading the nation in tackles just about and he’s is quick and powerful. It’s tough to get on him and even if you do, he can power through you and he makes a lot of tackles, a lot of plays. He is definitely someone as the offense that you got to key on and make sure that you get a body on him every time.”
Question: You mention the size. Their defense is bigger than some of the other teams, does your speed kind or present problems for their size maybe?
Steve Schilling: “I hope so. That is what we worked on all offseason is building that speed up and that endurance and that stamina to be able to have the same speed that you have in the first quarter that you have in the fourth. I think it helps us late in games being able to still break off long plays and not have long drives like you’ve seen a couple of times so far this year having to go down and win it at the end.”
Question: You said that you think Denard is more banged up than he has let on, but he has still been able to do what he has done the past few weeks; what does that say about him and do you see any difference from him now that he was a little banged up last week?
Steve Schilling: “No not at all. That’s why I say, he probably is, but you wouldn’t even know about it. If you ask him, he’s got a smile on his face and says he is fine. Whatever he tells you guys is what he tells us. He is a tough kid and he is not going to let is how even if he is hurt. It helps. It kind of feeds off to the rest of us. Everyone has nicks and injuries during the season, just keep playing hard. He is definitely a good leader out there.”
Question: How confident is the offense if he does get knocked out that you can keep rolling and keep the offense moving?
Steve Schilling: “I think real confident. I think the fact that in the Bowling Green game, Tate (Forcier) and Devin (Gardner) both got to get a lot of snaps, a lot of playing experience that helps. It is different than in practice so to get them in there and we saw what Tate could do last year and Devin is a good young player too. So I think we have a lot of other weapons on offense that they can spread the ball around too and I’m pretty confident in our offense no matter who is back there. Obviously, 16 is a special player but Tate and Devin can definitely get the job done.”
Question: How strange was it to play 18 minutes of a game and still score as many points as you did?
Steve Schilling: “It was like we were going three and out or three and touchdown pretty much every series. I did not think that we only had 45 plays. That was pretty surprising, but you get job the done if you can score quick, it helps the defense out if we can be on the field a little bit longer, but hopefully we can do that this week.”
Question: There are a lot of you guys do you have to talk to the importance of this week since they might have not been through this before?
Steve Schilling: “Yeah. All the seniors understand the importance of it, the coaches as well. I’m sure that Coach Rodriguez will talk about it. If you come to Michigan and you don’t understand the rivalry between Michigan and Michigan State, it is almost set in stone, this is the other state school. I don’t think we should have to do too much talking in letting them know the importance and all the seniors just got to lead in practice and show how you have to practice to prepare for a game like this.”
Question: Do you hear about it at all from former players, like hey, you guys got to stop that streak or do they mention it at all?
Steve Schilling: “I’m sure we will later in the weak. I’m sure I’ll get a couple of texts on Friday night when we are at the hotel from guys. Already some guys have been texting and asking for tickets and stuff. I’m sure we’ll get a few.”
Question: How much bigger is this game because you both are five and oh?
Steve Schilling: “It is a big test for us. In coming in undefeated, there is a lot of angles to kind of approach it, undefeated and having lost the last two years and all that stuff. It’s huge. You’re looking to come out of the game staying undefeated and obviously only one team can do it.”
Question: As a lineman, I think it is now 38 of the last 42 years that the team that has rushed for more yards has won this game. As a lineman, do you like that, knowing that this is a game where the running game is of the most upmost importance?
Steve Schilling: “Yeah definitely. I think our running game has been able to do pretty well this year. I like that statistic and hopefully we can keep it up and keep that number up.”
Question: You happy with the way the line has come together this year with (Patrick) Omameh and (Taylor) Lewan working his way in?
Steve Schilling: “Yeah definitely. Patrick has been playing really well and Taylor getting in there the last few weeks has kind of been showing what we’ve been hearing about all through the offseason of how well he can play. He’s a young guy obviously and he’ll get a lot better with time, but for a freshman stepping in there and his first Big Ten game played really and I’m sure he is excited to get out there and see what is like to play a rival.”