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October 13, 2011 - Image 8

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-10-13

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8A - Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com


Kirk Cousins might not
be speaking with some
of his friends back home
in Holland, Mich. after
beating their Michigan
Wolverines three straight
years. But Cousins sure
has done enough to eas-
ily find. some new ones.
Michigan State's senior
quarterback has thrown
for more than 5,000
yards, nearly 40 touch-
downs the past two sea-
sons and he's helped
"Little Brother" grow up
in a big way. At Big Ten
Media Day in August,
Cousins sat down with
the Daily to talk about
the upcoming season:
The Michigan Daily: Kirk
Cousins, do you hate Michigan?
Kirk Cousins: I don't hate
anybody. I think hate's a strong
word. But the rivalry is personal.
I grew up in Michigan. I grew up
in Holland. And when you have
friends that say they'll root for

you every day but one, they don't
understand: you're either with
me or against me. It's sort of like
if Isaid, I like you, but I don't like
your kids or your wife.' You're
either with me or against me. And
to say you'll root for me every day
but one, you might as well just not
root for me at all. We need to beat
Michigan. We need to beat Mich-
igan, I've said that every year.
They will be ready. Michigan will
be ready when they come play us
in Spartan Stadium. They will
come loaded. And we will need to
play a tremendous game to beat
TMD: How well do you know
Denard Robinson?
Cousins: I don't know Denard
at all. I've never spoken to him.
I know him pretty well because
he's on TV a lot. So I guess I see
his highlights a lot. I know his
great plays. He's a tremendous
player, tremendous athlete. He
deserves all the hype, or all the
attention he's gotten because he's
just a tremendous player. And he's

for leadership. What Jesus did
above all other leaders was ser-
vice. He served people. So agoalof
mine as a leader is to be a servant.
So now if you go and talk to the
other players, they'll tell you dif-
ferently - that I'm not a servant.
But I try to be. And when I do that,
that's my bestway of leading.
TMD: Your leader and coach,
Mark Dantonio, seems to have
the backing of your whole team.
How much does that help?
Cousins: We're actually
believers in Coach Dantonio. And
I think the proof is in the pud-
ding. Four years now, he's won
a Big Ten Championship and
brought this program to new
heights. He's given us every rea-
son to get behind him and believe
in him.
TMD: Does it feel good to be a
part of the Spartans' resurgence?
Cousins: Yeah, yeah it does.
It's very fulfilling to be a part of
it. But my career's not done. We'll
see when the last chapter is writ-
ten come December or January.

But there's no doubt to have a Big
Ten championship already on our
resumes is a special thing. And no
one can take that away from us
going forward.
TMD: Is there any added pres-
sure on you, with the type of
supporting cast Michigan State
returns? It's your job to perform,
Cousins: If anything, it makes
my job easier to throw to three
senior receivers and hand off to
three experienced runningbacks
who could all be top running
backs in the Big Ten. My job is
to just be a distributor, to make
great decisions and get them the
football. No one's going to put
more pressure on me than I put
on myself. And it's been that way
since I was a redshirt. I came in
as a freshman and had a lot to
learn. I had higher expectations
of myself, than any coach or any
media member or any fan. And
as a result, I think I don't let the
pressure or the expectations get
to me.

Spartan senior quarterback Kirk Cousins led Michigan State to a share of the
Big Ten title and a Capital One Bowl berth a season ago.

going to have another greatyear.
TMD: What kind of leader are
you, Kirk?
Cousins: I'll put it this way:

what kind of leader I try to be.
The greatest leader of all time was
Jesus Christ. So I go to the Bible
and read the Gospels to get insight

Secondary improving, still a work in progress for Blue


Daily Sports Editor
The Michigan football team's
secondary needed to make big
changes after ranking 112th in
pass defense last season. But sec-
ondary coach Curt Mallory start-
ed small.
A two-year letter winner for
the Wolverines from 1989-90,
Mallory came back to Ann Arbor
after spending last year as the
defensive coordinator and cor-

nerbacks coach at Akron. He took
over the secondary when Hoke
was hired and went about adjust-
ing the players' technique.
In spring ball, he realized
sophomore cornerback Court-
ney Avery took a false step - a
small step forward before back-
peddling. He fixed*it in about five
"One false step or one bad step
here, he's going to talk to you
about it even if you do make the
play," Avery said. "I thought it was

a small thing. I was like, 'come on
coach,' but it is important, and I
see that now."
That emphasis on technique
has the Wolverines' secondary
telling a different story, even if
Michigan coach Brady Hoke isn't
pleased yet. No. 11 Michigan is
now ranked 32nd nationally in
pass defense. After giving up 23
passing plays of 30-plus yards last
season, it's surrendered just three
this season, and none more than
40 yards. While the improvement

seems vast, Hoke says the unithas
only improved "some" since the
beginning of the year.
"We are a long way from being
a good secondary," Hoke said.
According to Hoke, the big-
gest problem hasn't been the long
passes that plagued the unit last
year - it's been the short ones.
The backs aren'tgettingoffblocks
well enough or supporting the
runs or bubble screens.
Northwestern ran the bubble
screen nine times last Saturday,
completing every pass and aver-
aging about seven yards a recep-
tion. As the Wolverines made
adjustments in the second half,
the yards per screen decreased
but the completions remained.
The task of stopping the short
passes usually falls to the cor-
nerbacks, which have consisted
of redshirt junior J.T. Floyd and
a rotation of fifth-year senior
Troy Woolfolk, Avery and fresh-
man Blake Countess. And with
Hoke, helping them defend is
"You show it to them," he said.
"You talk about their technique
and their hips and if they're
keeping their feet under their
hips, not opening up. There's a
lot of technique, and you can't
defend all of those."
While Floyd has generally
remained in the game on one
side, the rotation among the


MAsiA MccLAIN/Daily
Redshirt junior cornerbackJ1T. Floyd has three pass break-ups in sir tames.

other three has increased in
recent weeks, as Woolfolk has
been banged up and Countess has
received more playing time. In
certain situations, Avery has left
the rotation to play nickel back, a
position he also played as a fresh-
"You don't want to get caught
up in how much playing time
you're getting," Avery said. "At
times (it's tough getting into a
rhythm), but I feel like we rotate
pretty well."
Avery will feel comfortable
wherever he plays next Saturday.
He played nickel back significant-
ly against the Spartans last season
and knows the challenge Michi-

gan State's receivers pose.
The Spartans' corps possesses
the most depth the secondary has
seen this season, with B.J. Cun-
ningham, Keshawn Martin and
Keith Nichol lining up on the out-
side. This week, defensive coor-
dinator Greg Mattison said he
believes Cunningham is an NFL-
caliber player. And as the second-
ary triesto stop the short routes, it
knows what the stakes are if it lets
a reciever get open deep.
"You can say anything you
want about the secondary," Mat-
tison said last week. "But you're
one big pass away from not look-
ing like you should look, and they
understand that."




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