Mark Dantonio and the#24 Michigan State Spartansimproved their record to 4-2 on the season with a big with a big win over Penn State. They now turn their attention to Michigan who is coming to East Lansing to do battle this Saturday at high noon!
The above video is Coach Mark Dantonio and his weekly press conference talking about UM, the Spartans and more! If you prefer to read, below is the complete transcript.
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: Coming off last week's game against Penn State, 4-2, and have a big challenge in front us now as we come into this week. Michigan comes in here 6-1, 4-0 in the Big Ten. I think they are playing outstanding, they're ranked in the Top-10 in the country, which deservedly so. Again it will be a challenge.
When you look at them, I think you look at them defensively, a lot of starters back, two linebackers back that start, the entire secondary, really three out of their top four guys up front. Playing very well on the defensive side of the ball. Obviously a lot of pressure. They're leading the nation I think on pass defense, various others things in the Big Ten.
Offensively, the quarterback is playing well, running the football successfully, big-play offense in a lot of respects. So a very well-coached football team and we'll be challenged as always. That's what you get in this conference.
When you look at it, it's a noon game, it's a rivalry game, when you look at it, a lot's been said, but when you look at it, I think it's good for college football and I also think it's also good for the State of Michigan. Everybody's enthused.
And I'll take some questions and go from there.
No questions? Man, that's unbelievable (smiling).
Q. Just a brief look back at Penn State. Defending a dual threat quarterback like Trace McSorley, you'll see somebody similar in Shea Patterson. But you held him to his second-lowest yardage total combined in the season. The lowest was Pitt and Pat Narduzzi. Is there any comparing of notes, conversation that take place with an ally like Pat Narduzzi when you're preparing for an opponent?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: Yes, we talked to Pat. I think Mike Tressel talked to Coach Narduzzi a little bit, and I touched base through text a little bit but I think that's sort of common. You know, you look for people that are similar in what you've done, those type of things and you look to see how people play people.
When you look at people that play a 30-front as opposed to a 40-front, you look for commonalities I think across the board. And the biggest one is obviously what you do against that particular team, year-in and year-out, if their coaching staff hasn't changed or the coordinators haven't changed or they are still using the same type of players, so you sort of get a history.
Usually the history is the best indicator of the future, and you know, when you look at things like that across the board, I think that's -- of course, everybody else knows that, so they change. So that's why you coach.
Q. You're 8-3 against Michigan in your career, your three losses are by a combined 15 points. How have you been able to get your guys to buy into getting up for this game every week over such a long period of time without ever really having a letdown?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: Well, I think one of the biggest reasons is that when I came here in 1995, you know, I experienced things firsthand at the start when (former MSU head coach) Coach Saban was here, and so I understood when I came back as the head football coach how important this game was to our fans, to the state, and sort of went from it from there. We've got a lot of players from the State of Michigan. They understand that, as well, and so it becomes sort of ingrained in people as you go. We just sort of point towards it and try to do our very, very best.
Q. You mentioned a number of times how personal this was. Did it become more personal in 2007, or was it personal the first time you stepped on campus here?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: No, I think you learn these things as you go forward. You play your first game -- in any rivalry situation, I remember playing our first game when I was at South Carolina playing Clemson, and it was a big game down there, huge game.
Everybody talked about it and told you about it and you really didn't know what to expect, but when you played in that football game for the first time, you understood after the fact. I think that's the same thing here. You sort of understand after the fact, so after the '95 game, I understood.
Then I just sort of brought it forward. I think, though, it's a game like a lot of games, where you just sort of remember that. Like I told you before, I've coached over 150 games here as a head coach, and you tend to remember those games that are special games leading up to the game, whether it's a Bowl game or whether it's a big game against Penn State last week or whatever it is. You tend to remember those and I think this game sort of points to that direction.
As things go along, I'll tell you one thing about the three games that we've had, '15, '16, '17, I think they have been played with great sportsmanship on the field, I really do. Everybody's playing hard and I think that's good for college football, well-coached football teams and respect; respect what they have done.
Q. Admittedly last week at Penn State you guys were more aggressive on the aggressive side of the ball, trick plays and others things. Do you expect that you guys are going to maintain a more aggressive approach to offense like you did on Penn State?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: I've always thought that we've taken an aggressive offensive approach. Now, it's all about -- on offense, it's all about the numbers. It's all about the production. Just like on defense. You know, if you're not stopping people on defense, people think you're not aggressive. I think it's all about production and really 'what have you done lately?' That's college football. As you guys said, you need to adapt better; and last week I'm a genius, so it's amazing (smiling). Education. Education. How fast it can go (smiling).
Q. You look at this match-up, and on paper, these two defenses are right up there, if not among the Top-10 country. As a coach on the defensive side, how do you like and approach those kind of match-ups against another defensive-minded team?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: Well, you can't make mistakes on either side of the ball, really. You can't blow coverage or a gap and also you can't turn the ball over. I think that's huge.
Traditionally, the team that's rushed for the most yardage has usually won the game. That's probably true in most cases, what I said last week in terms of our numbers.
But that's the tradition, so it's heart of hinged on defense. Most games usually do. I'm very impressed with their defense, very impressed with their front four, front seven, they are active and quick. They are very well-coached. Same with their back end. They have a good football team.
Q. There's been a past in this rivalry where maybe one team or the other hasn't been playing as well, but this is another one of those cases where based on where you guys are at, it becomes very important in the division, as well. Does that ramp things up even more, is it more intense? How does that change things?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: I think it's always intense but I think you play for more as you go forward. I guess now we're in the same division -- I guess we have been. You take on the division race itself, it's an Eastern Division game and that type of thing.
As I said earlier, October sort of points towards November. If you can play well in October, then you're going to be in the hunt for things in November. So that's our intent as we move forward, but yeah, I think it intensifies things.
Q. It's been 10 years since that 2008 game when you when you finally broke through in Ann Arbor. What do you remember about that game and that feeling after that game?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: I remember Blair White catching the slant and going the distance early in the game. I remember Keshawn Martin, I think he was a freshman, he ran and end-around -- I head-butted him and got a headache. I remember that, barely (laughing). I thought we played pretty well on defense. It was just a big moment.
I can't even tell you the score of the game, really, but I just remember it was a big moment for us.
Q. Is their defensive line as good of a single unit you've faced this year and why or why not?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: Yeah, I would say probably so, with no disrespect to anybody else we've played. I think that they are very active, as I said earlier, they are quick, and great pass rush, those type of things. Very, very good.
Q. Two fake field goals and a fake punt. Obviously, you would prefer to catch teams by surprise but how much can putting that on film be a benefit on forcing teams to spending practice time prepare for what might not even happen on a Saturday?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: We've got to find some more. I don't know, you know, you've got to take risks as coaches sometimes, too. I thought it was the right time. We needed to get a drive going, and it was late in the first quarter and so I thought that was the time, and as far as the field goal, you know, that was the time. We didn't execute it. It's all about: At the end of the day, can you execute. Can one side or the other, can they execute. We didn't get that one done but we worked at it.
Q. How do you decide when you can take one of those risks and how much is premeditated going into a game?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: I can't tell you that (smiling). I'm not sure. I'm really not sure. Sometimes you just step across the line a little bit, but it doesn't always work, but we were one-out-of-two, I guess.
Q. For a program built on playing in the trenches and defense, trick plays seem to be off-brand. When did you become a guy that liked --
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: I've always been like that, I think.
Q. Where does that come from?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: Stepping out and taking risks, I think at times as a football coach, you need to step out and take a risk. You can't all put it on your players and give them all the risk and say he didn't tackle the guy or they didn't make the first down or they didn't do that or they don't do this. Sometimes as the head football coach, you have to step out there and hey, it's my decision and if it doesn't work, it's on me.
Q. Did you pick that up from a mentor or something of your own?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: No, I don't think so, doesn't mean I'm going to fake anything or not (smiling).
Q. In a big rivalry game like this, which you have obviously done well in, how do you find the balance between having your team fired up to the max and being loose but not being overaggressive or over anything? How do you strike that emotional balance in a big game like this?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: I just tell them to get ready. Everybody's got a different way to get ready but when the time comes, you generally have a feeling. You need to be at your very best every single week, not just this weekend, but every single weekend. If you want to be at your very best, I think everybody's got a different way to get there and I'm pretty accepting of that, and collectively, we go as a group. We have little things that we try and do as we go forward to collectively unify us.
I think most of the time, getting ready for a football game is a long-lasting thing. You've got to be ready and if you get ready on Friday night and you're not ready Saturday at noon, you know, that's not good, so you need to be ready at game time. I believe in that and we try and do our best to get there. You know when you see it, I guess.
Q. When you've got one first down to get before you go to victory formation, what's your philosophy?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: If we're on offense?
Q. If you're in the lead on offense, and you have that last possession, rather than making the other team take three time-outs and then punting?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: I think it's been varied. You know, it depends on the game. Depends on the opposing team's offense and your defense. You know, you've got to look at all the different aspects; are you away, are you home. I think there's a lot of things that go into that. You certainly want to use people -- make people use their time-out, I believe, because then they don't have them on the back end, so there is something to that. There's been other times where we've said hey, play it like we're behind and that's been other times we've said, hey, play it like it's 1st and 10 early in the game.
So I think you have to keep people off-base and I think you do that because collectively if you don't, then you have a history and that history indicates what you'll do and that's not always good. Hopefully I'm talking in circles (smiling).
Q. I don't think anyone in this oom thought you could win last week and you were asked on the field after the game, how can this program continue to win these games that are so unlikely. I know the chip thing doesn't work for everyone. Does it just work for this program?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: I think there's a lot of things that go into it. I think I said by God's grace, too, I think. There's a lot of things that go into this: It's belief system; it's conviction; it's commitment; it's execution on the field; it's mental toughness; it's physical toughness. There's a lot of that that goes into it.
And going back to the question over there earlier, you know you need to be ready, and then hopefully as the game flows -- games are long -- college football takes a long time, it's three and a half hours. So if something happens early in the football game, it doesn't mean it's going to finalize the game. I think it's over a period of time.
If you can just build throughout the game and not waiver, and stay committed throughout a football game, you have a better chance. Doesn't mean it's going to continue on, but if you can just continue and stay committed, good things can happen. That's what we talk about. It's going to be a long football game and just do your job. Do your job and do it to the best of your ability with a lot of enthusiasm.
Q. The last three games in this rivalry, you mentioned they were clean, better sportsmanship. What do you attribute that to?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: I think Coach Harbaugh does a great job. I think he's all about that. I think he tries to play the game like it's supposed to be played and I think he respects the football game, I think he respects the game, the general game of football.
We do the same at our place and I think it permeates down through the players. I hope that's the case.
Q. I know you don't like to talk about injuries, but how much does that play into not releasing a depth chart this week for this game?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: Well, I can keep giving a depth chart, but it really doesn't matter, because a lot of times it changes on Saturday afternoon, so just this week, just decided, hey, let's just not do it.
Q. You talked about the fourth quarter, the flatness in the Northwestern game. What did you see in the fourth quarter that was maybe a little different last week?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: Well, throughout the game, and I think that that could be attributed a lot to the environment there because it was a great environment to play in. Penn State has a great environment; and I'll look forward to seeing Michigan State's environment in Spartan Stadium this week, because it can get live, and it needs to.
Again, I go back to our guys came with a conviction and sense of commitment and understood that it was going to be a big task and just kept working it. As we kept working it and we kept hanging in there, you know, that tide started to turn a little bit, as you saw the last two drives, it started to turn. And that big stadium got quiet, and that's usually what ends up happening, if you can keep moving the rock, as I said before, just keep pushing, don't take your hands off that big rock, maybe eventually it will roll a little bit, and I think that's what we did.
Q. Going back to the trick plays, if you're willing to say, the fake punt and the halfback pass, are those linked to if you need you completed the punt you were going to go right to the pass right away?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: No, I had nothing to do with that one. That was (offensive coordinator) Coach Warner's call. The fake punt was my call. There was no link.
Q. I know you like to rotate offensive linemen. You played mostly one, so what benefits did you see from that consistency?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: Well, I thought we were running the ball okay, not dynamically, but we were moving it, you know, five yards here, five yards there. Try to empower our coaches, and that's (offensive line) Coach Staten's call, and that's what he wanted to do and stay with it. Really that's what we decided to do.
Q. What do you remember about crossing paths with (Michigan offensive line coach) Ed Warinner way back at Akron and what's it like having his son here now (Spartan freshman linebacker Edward Warinner)?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: Ed was a graduate assistant when I was there (at Akron), and actually what I do remember is -- I'm not sure everybody knows this, but what I do remember is that one evening, I met Nick Saban, talked to Nick and had a graduate assistant open up here (MSU) for George Perles. Ed was going to Middletown, Ohio to be a high school coach and went up here, came up here to East Lansing to interview and become a graduate assistant here at Michigan State before all the rest of his -- met his wife, and you know, so he's got some Spartan in him.
He's a very good coach. Obviously was at Notre Dame. Was at Ohio State. Was at Kansas. Did an outstanding job there. Was at Missouri, as well. Very, very good coach, very, very good offensive line coach.
I've talked to Ed -- in fact, he came on the home (recruiting) visit. He was at the home visit when I went into the house. So, it was a little different. A little different (smiling). But he's positive, very positive. With the background at Michigan State, they group in some ways as Spartans, and the opportunity to come here was a positive one for him and his family. He's doing a great job.
Q. Your players come in here next. Do you ever worry on big games like this, what they are going to say? We're looking for juicy quotes and you're telling them to be careful. Do you get anxious for Tuesday of Michigan week to get over?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: No, I don't get anxious -- I mean, for them, no. I've got a lot of faith in our players in terms of what they are saying, especially in these three guys, I think our three captains are coming over. So you know, they just need to be able to stand behind their words as best they can. They will do a great job.
With that, I can get out of here? (smiling) That would be good.
All right, guys. Go Green! See you Saturday.
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