Michigan focused, ready for MSU DL (w/video)

Michigan focused, ready for MSU DL (w/video)

Heading into a pivotal rivalry game and also in the Legends Division of the Big Ten, Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke was quick, concise and focused earlier today. It's clear the Spartans have the Wolverines' full attention.

Days away from their annual meeting with Michigan State, Michigan's focus appears undeterred by the memories of failing to match the Spartans physicality in a loss one year ago. Instead, the Wolverines are fixating their focus on themselves and the string of positive practices being put together in recent weeks that have clearly transferred from the practice field to game situations.

"Good practice yesterday, I think, on both sides of the ball," Hoke said Wednesday afternoon. "I liked how we competed with each other. I thought that when you put in the plan, sometimes Tuesday is a little more thinking, but I thought we reacted well and had a good tempo and were playing fast."

Preparation has been key over the past two weeks, culminating in blowout victories over Purdue and Illinois, and that hasn't slowed throughout this week either. To some extent, the practices have been even better according to Hoke.

"I think it's been a continuation," Hoke said, "but I also would agree that when you play in rivalry games there's always a little more intensity to it."

Motivation for the Wolverines shouldn't be hard to find, since the Spartans have claimed four straight victories over Michigan. And with a possible fifth straight Saturday, Michigan State would have their most consecutive wins in the series ever.

"It doesn't need to be said," said Michigan senior center Elliott Mealer. "I think everybody knows what to expect going into a game like this. It's going to be physical. It's going to be—you can call it Big Ten football. A lot of running the ball and getting after each other."

"Part of it is, from here on out they're all going to be championship games for us," added Mealer. "We know what's on the line; and there's a little added factor that it's a rivalry game."

Mealer will get his first real taste of extended game action against the Spartans as he makes his 7th start of the season as the Wolverines center. Despite the Spartans having to replace defensive tackle Jerel Worthy, who now plays for the Green Bay Packers, Mealer believes the MSU defensive line will still be a challenge.

"I think they still look really good," said Mealer. "One thing you can tell is that they do what they're coached to do. They've got guys flying to the football. And Worthy is a great player, actually a guy from Ohio that I was friends with."

The man behind Michigan State's success along the defensive line is a coach Brady Hoke has a history with dating all the way back to his playing days in college.

"I think Ted Gill, their D line coach—who was one of my coaches at Ball State in college—has done a nice job of developing that group," said Hoke. "The style of defense is such that it's an aggressive defense."

Michigan will have its hands full with a defense that still currently leads the Big Ten in scoring defense at 15.7 points per game.

Press play below to watch video of Coach Hoke and Elliott Mealer talking about the upcoming game with the Spartans.

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