Question: Obviously growing up in the Toledo area, everybody kind of has a side, the Michigan side and Ohio State side. What was it like for you growing up in Northwest Ohio with everybody having a side like that?
Jordan Kovacs: “Obviously, my blood always ran blue. My dad walked on here. I’ve been a lot of Michigan and Ohio State games and it is an exciting rivalry and it is surreal to finally be a part of it.”
Question: Do you recount the last time Michigan beat Ohio State in 2003 what you were doing?
Jordan Kovacs: “Yeah I was here at the game. I was 13 years old and obviously that was the 100th game. I was sitting in section in 27 with my parents and my brother. It was a big win for us.”
Question: Is that where your family still sits?
Jordan Kovacs: “Not any more. Now they have my tickets. They do get a couple more. They sit up by the scoreboard but not in the same section.”
Question: Any of your friends back home that may have been Ohio State fans converted?
Jordan Kovacs: “I’ve converted a couple of people, a couple of my good buddies, but I still got some good friends that are diehard Buckeye fans and you know how those guys are. It is tough to turn them Blue. I do have some friends that go to Ohio State. Like I said, we’re exciting about going down there and playing and just being able to see my friends and play in front of a lot of my close buddies.”
Question: Ever been to the Horseshoe?
Jordan Kovacs: “Yeah I’ve been to several games in Columbus. I went to the 2002 game obviously when Ohio State went to the National Championship. I went to several Michigan-Ohio State games straight down there. I have not been there since. I did not go to the 2006 one versus two matchup, but that was the first one I missed in a while.”
Question: Last year when we talked, you just so excited to be a part of this program, now you come in and are starting on defense. Can you talk about your transition from last year to this year?
Jordan Kovacs: “I guess it came kind of fast. I was kind of thrown in the mix last year at the Notre Dame game and gradually I have just become more comfortable with this defense and my responsibilities on it. Here I am just one of the more veteran guys on the defense I guess you could say. It has gone quick. We’re just looking forward to Saturday.”
Question: What makes Terrelle Pryor tough to slow down or stop?
Jordan Kovacs: “He is very versatile. He is big guy, 6’6”, about 240 and he can run and throw. I think that is why that offense is tough to stop. It is a dynamic offense. They can be under center one snap, pound you, run the power at you and then the next snap they can be in the shotgun and run the zone read with the quarterback and I think this offense is going to bring a great challenge to us. They’ve got great receivers too. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Question: What is the key for the defense, forcing turnovers or forcing mistakes?
Jordan Kovacs: “I think it is the same as any other game. Any time that you can make an offense one dimensional, you’ve got a chance to play some good defense. If we can stop them on first and second down and put them in third and long, obviously we can create turnovers that way. That’s much easier said then that and we’ve struggled with that so far.”
Question: On defensive progress…
Jordan Kovacs: “Any time your inexperienced in whatever area. Obviously, you are going to have some growing pains. We’ve had some young guys come in and step up and they’ve played really well so far and we’re excited about the development that they’ve had.”
Question: Did you get to play against Dane (Sanzenbacher) when he was at (Toledo) Central?
Jordan Kovacs: “Yeah I did. I played against him two years and he beat us both years. My junior year, we were up 17-3 on them and they came back and beat us and they went on to win the state championship. I’m still bitter about it. I’m still looking for my first win against him.”
Question: Do you know Dane a little bit? Have you talked at all?
Jordan Kovacs: “I don’t really have personal relationship with Dane. Obviously, we ran track against them a few times. I can tell you that he is a pretty good 400 runner and I can always tell you that he is a pretty good receiver and he makes big catches for the Buckeyes. It is going to be an exciting matchup.”
Question: Coach Rodriguez called Dane one of the best wide receivers in the country.
Jordan Kovacs: “Definitely. He is not a big name guy, but he makes big catches for them. Last week, he had a couple at the end of the game. He’s going to be tough to stop. I don’t think he does anything great, but he does a lot of things very well. He is not super fast or super elusive, but he finds holes in the defense and comes up with big catches. He is going to bring trouble to this defense so we’re just going to get into the film room and see what we can do to stop that.”
Question: You obviously know and understand the rivalry very well; how badly does Michigan need a win?
Jordan Kovacs: “It is a big rivalry and obviously we are not happy about the streak right now, but we’re just looking forward to the game Saturday. It will be a big win for us if we can pull it off and we’re going to have to play very well. We’re going to have to play a flawless game, we know that and that’s what we’re looking forward to doing in Columbus on Saturday.”
Question: Because of the defensive struggles against the top half teams of the Big Ten, Iowa, Michigan State, Wisconsin, are you guys still confident? Do you feel like you can stop a team like Ohio State?
Jordan Kovacs: “Yeah. We’ve gone into every game confident. Like I said, if we can make them a one dimension team whether it be throwing the ball, passing the ball, I think we have a chance to beat anybody and I think the guys are looking forward to getting in the film room and look into their offense with a little more detail and just getting at it in practice. We’re confident and we’re excited about this challenge.”
Question: How old where you when the last time Michigan beat Ohio State in 2003 and do you remember that game?
Kevin Koger: “Naw, I don’t really remember the game. In 2003, I was 13 or 14 years old, in high school. I really don’t remember the game, but I remember the more memorable ones, even though every one should be memorable.”
Question: Take me back to the recruiting process and how close were you to going to Ohio State?
Kevin Koger: “Me and Tree (Roy Roundtree) talk about it all the time. He whole-heartedly thought I was going. I definitely gave them a serious look but it just didn’t work out. It felt right up here, a perfect fit for me and I’m loving it up here.”
Question: Your friends back home more Michigan or Ohio State fans?
Kevin Koger: “It’s really split. They really don’t discuss it with me because they’re kind of biased now since I play up here. It is really a split being from Toledo. It is closer to either school, so it is really split between my friends.”
Question: Can you talk about your season and are you happy with your play?
Kevin Koger: “I could always do better. I’m never perfect, nobody is perfect. To be satisfied, definitely not, there is always room for improvement.”
Question: I asked Jordan Kovacs the same question, have any of your Ohio State fans jumped over to the Michigan side?
Kevin Koger: “I don’t think any have jumped over. I always hear all the time that I’m an Ohio State fan, but I’m also a Kevin Koger fan too, so I get that all the time. So I don’t think they’ve jumped over, but they do support me.”
Question: What do you guys have to do to go down to Columbus and win?
Kevin Koger: “We got to take care of the ball. The last couple of games, two games in a row we’ve had five turnovers and we still managed to win. We can’t do that at Ohio State and win. They’re a great team and have a great defense. We cannot afford those turnovers.”
Question: You’re four losses, you guys have started slowly, any reason why you guys start slow?
Kevin Koger: “Just poor execution. That’s all it really amounts too. We’re not executing and obviously we’re not taking care of the ball. I think that is the main thing we have to focus on is ball security – bell security definitely.”
Question: You talk about ball security and turnovers did something happen because for a while there you didn’t turn it over?
Kevin Koger: “I think we just have to play attention to detail. I think that is what it comes down to. We have to focus more on it at practice and that is on us. It is not the coaches or anything that the coaches can do. It is definitely on us and we just have to be accountable and do what we can do.”
Question: Talk to any of the guys from (Toledo) Whitmer after their win Saturday?
Kevin Koger: “I texted Coach Palka this morning, but I haven’t talked to any of the guys. Kenny Hayes, I’m close to him. I guess I’ll have to talk to him and see it feels because I’ve never been there so see how it goes for them.”
Question: On the excitement of playing in the Michigan – Ohio State game…
Kevin Koger: “It’s crazy because you grow up idolizing this game and always want to play in it and now that we have a whole bunch of guys playing in it, it is definitely going to be an experience for everybody.”
Question: How important would it be for this team to be the team that stopped the losing streak to Ohio State?
Kevin Koger: “It would definitely mean a lot to us. Every game means a lot, but this one means a little bit more. To be remembered for stopping the streak, it definitely holds something dear in my heart.”
Question: Do you feel like the rivalry has kind of lost some of its luster since Michigan hasn’t won in a while?
Kevin Koger: “Definitely not. Definitely not, it means the same to me as it has every year. I feel like it has been the same game as it has been in the past 100 years. I feel like it still holds the same significance.”
Question: Did Ohio State want you as a tight end or did they want you on defense?
Kevin Koger: “They said both. I really don’t know. First, they said defensive end and then they said tight end. Probably would have helped me when I got down there.”
Question: What was the determining factor for coming up here?
Kevin Koger: “Just the people. First of it is close to home. It is 45 minutes away from my house so I can go home whenever I want to, but it is far away enough that my parents cannot pop up. Just the people, I came up here and it felt right. My dad always has been a Michigan fan his entire life and I know he wanted me to come here too that was big on me too. My mom didn’t really care one way or the other.”
Question: Was Michigan always #1 on your list or was Ohio State at any point?
Kevin Koger: “I wouldn’t say one was higher up than the other. They were both even. Just talking to my parents, talking to the people that really matter to me, I just came to the conclusion that Michigan was right for me.”
Question: Mike Martin said he hated Ohio State, do you hate Ohio State?
Kevin Koger: “Hate, that is such a strong word. It is such a strong word. I would probably say that I respect, but I definitely don’t like them at all, but hate is such a strong word. I wouldn’t use that.”
Question: Are you embarrassed by the streak that Ohio State is on?
Kevin Koger: “It is definitely not something to be proud about. They have definitely dominated us the past couple of years. It is on us to stop it. They’re a great team and we know what we’re up against. We have to prepare extra hard this week to take them down Saturday.”