College Football Notes & Quotes: Week 11

Jonathan Schopp
MSU is the leader in the clubhouse as they enter the bye week.  Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.
MSU is the leader in the clubhouse as they enter the bye week. Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.

Spartan Nation talked to various Coaches around the Big Ten earlier this week. Here’s some buzz from around the league to get you ready for the Conference’s second weekend of November play, and Spartan Football’s long awaited Bye Week.

Mark Dantonio

On whether the game “slows down” for Head Coaches like it does for younger players, as they gain experience:

“Well certainly, I think you do everything a little bit better with more experience. I’m not sure exactly how many games I’ve been a Head Coach at this point, probably about…80. It has slowed down, I do think we’ve made better decisions, not only myself, but as a staff.

The interesting is that, because of continuity on our football staff, many of our coaches have been in the same games that I’ve been in…So that’s very, very beneficial because we know each other so well, and we know the next thing to go to, to fix the problem. I think the biggest thing, when you’re coaching is, when there is a problem, try and get that problem fixed…That’s what we try and do, and hopefully I continue to improve.”

On the importance of this “transitional” Senior Class, which features initial Dantonio recruits, and the last of the John L. Smith era recruits:

“Our Senior Class is sort of twofold. It’s the first Freshmen that we recruited (Jones, Bates, Rucker, etc.)…but then it also has some young men on it involved that were Red Shirt-Freshmen when we came here, that were in the program before we came (Neely, Gordon, Schakleton, Deane, etc.)…so it’s an interesting combination there.

They both have done outstanding jobs in terms of leadership. The Freshmen that came in, as I understand it, they will have won more games in their four years than anybody in the history of Michigan State Football, which is a statement. The Red-Shirt Freshmen…can speak to a little bit of the past, and give people that perception of what it’s like now...I’ve very, very proud of them, and it should be a great day next Saturday (Senior Day).”

On the performance of the 2010 Spartan “Scout Team,” and some of its players Spartan Nation should look out for in the coming seasons:

“Tony Lippett (Rs.) has done an outstanding job playing Quarterback, playing Wide Receiver...he’s actually been concentrating on playing Corner (Back) right now for the last four or five weeks, based on injuries and such, but we’ve been able to hold him out. He’s an excellent football player, and he will have an outstanding career here.

Keith Mumphery (Rs. WR) is a Wide Receiver that is very, very exciting to watch. Joe Boisture, (Rs. QB) as a Quarterback, (has) a very live arm. Skyler Schofner (Rs. OL)…Travis Jackson (Rs. OL)…and Mike Dennis (Fr. OL)…these guys are very good football players, and they’re going to have outstanding careers here.

On the Defensive side of the ball, Mylan Hicks (Rs. CB) is Red Shirting, (and) has been tremendous…then we’ve Red Shirted a couple of Defensive Ends: Taylor Calero , and Marcus Rush, two guys that have a big upside….Nikko Palazeti (Rs. FB) is a guy that we’re Red Shirting as a Fullback.

You’re calling me out right at the start, so I hope I didn’t miss anybody. But our Freshmen group is an extremely talented group of Freshmen…If we can continue to recruit to that level of player, we will be in business here for a long time. ”

On the ability of Kirk Cousins (Rs.-Jr. QB) to handle all that comes with being the Quarterback at a big time program like Michigan St., and on the lineage of poise that has been passed on from Brian Hoyer to Cousins, and Cousins is now passing to the younger QBs on the roster, Andrew Maxwell (Rs.-Fr.) and Joe Boisture (Rs.):

“I think it’s critical. When you look at a Quarterback…you’re probably as quoted as anybody in this program…other than the Head Football Coach. He assumes the position of leadership by the position that he plays. So it’s critical that that person be a good leader, on and off the field…that he be diligent, that he be a worker, that he demonstrates not just intelligence, but courage, and different things that go along with it, (like) being able to step forward a play with confidence.

Kirk does all those things. He’s been a tremendous leader for our Football team. Players make mistakes, Coaches make mistakes, Quarterbacks make mistakes. It’s not a perfect world. But I think he’s been an excellent player, and he continues to work through difficult situations that present themselves on the field, such as blitzes or 3rd and long…or being behind, where he’s has to throw the ball every single play.

All these things are indications of him continuing to grow. And I think life is about the experiences that you have. It certainly pays dividends when you have an experienced Quarterback. He got that last year, (and) he will continue to learn and improve, much like I do, on a daily basis, or a weekly basis when you play games. Having Andrew (Maxwell, and Joe Boisture) here, just like when Kirk was an understudy for Brian Hoyer…only adds to that because he’s an excellent role model for them, in terms of the intangibles.

Everybody can come out throw the football, a lot of guys can do that. But it’s what he (Cousins) does getting us in and out of the plays, it’s what he does in the huddle, it’s what he does after a tough loss or after a good win, those are the things that separate people, and he’s done an outstanding job of that.”

Jim Tressel

On the possibility that the traditional “Big Ten vs. Pac Ten” Rose Bowl matchup could be disrupted this year, and in years to come:

“You know what…I’ll be honest with you. I haven’t’ looked that far ahead, in terms of the Rose Bowl, as to the fact that it might be disrupted. I’m not sure why it would be…It’s one of the things we cherish as a member of the Big Ten, to see if we can earn our way into the Rose Bowl. Obviously we would love ourselves or one of our Big Ten partners to be in there, but honestly I haven’t given that any thought.”

On whether supreme athleticism or superior technique is more responsible for producing a dominant Defensive Lineman at the College level:

“I think technique is something that jumps off the film when you’re studying film. I know a lot of people get hyped because of certain numbers, and big plays, and so forth…I’ve noticed over the course of time that a significant number of sacks, for instance, occur because of missed assignments on the Offense, and all the sudden, someone is piling up these big numbers...That guy with outstanding ability, that also has great technique, he’s the guy you hate to face.”

Rich Rodriguez

On whether the surging Michigan Offense can still find an even higher gear of operation:

“Oh yea, certainly. After watching film…we see so many potential big plays that are still out there if we executed a little bit better…so that’s the exciting part. We have a lot of really good young players and they’re really grasping what we want scheme wise, but there’s still another level we think we can get to.”

On whether he expects to always need two Quarterbacks ready because of the physicality of playing in the Big Ten, and the typical demands of the Michigan schedule:

“I’ve always felt that, whether you run a spread style Offense or a traditional drop back…nowadays, those Defensive players are so big and fast, whether you’re a pocket passer and you get drilled, or you’re running down field and get hit, there’s a great chance of injury. We’ve always felt you’d better have at least two, and to be really comfortable, you’ve gotta have three you feel good with.”

On whether the College Football Overtime system needs reform because it can extend the game too long:

“I think it’s the best Overtime system there is. (Rodriguez has been involved in three Triple-Overtime games in his career now)…I think you can always find faults with any system, but the College Overtime where you put it on the 25, and after the (second) one, you have to go for two, I think is the fairest, best Overtime system that you could have.”

On whether the Wolverines have enjoyed a boost coming off the 3 OT win over Illinois at home Saturday:

“I think so, I certainly felt it in the lock room. It was a little bit of a sense of relief, more than anything, and just joy from all the hard work the guys put in, and to be able to win a close game. I think anytime you’re involved in an Overtime situation and it could go either way so quickly, and one play makes a difference, if you come out on the positive end on it, it gives you a great up lift.”

P.A.T. (Perhaps Another Thought…)

Michigan State should rethink the seating method used in its Student Section. There was a time when “Student” seats had actual rows and numbers printed on them, which were largely ignored. Yet, I don’t recall many people bothering to complain. Those who had seniority seemed to have better seats, which were logically enforceable. The rest of us were widely left to our own devices to pick where we wanted to sit, based on the game, our arrival time, and what angles wanted to view from. It seemed to change each week, which wasn’t a bad thing.

But I was also around when the dreaded “voucher” system came into play. That complicated things instantly, and also turned the process of getting into the games into quite the slog. It simply takes too long for students to get in through the gates, gives them too little control over where they sit, and makes the Student Section look way to empty, way too often. It’s become the worst eyesore in Spartan Stadium.

How about merging the original idea with the cumbersome modern approach? If MSU clearly outlined the Student Section and told students to go sit anywhere inside the area, without overly clogging up the rows or creating a safety hazard, the Student Section would never again look so empty.

Those who wanted to arrive early and sit down low in the corner, could. And those who wanted to arrive early and sit a bit higher up, closer to mid-field, could arguably score the best angle available to view the field. This does not seem to me like that difficult a concept, yet it troubles me why, nearly a decade later, we still have essentially the same cumbersome and inefficient Student seating system.

By letting Students spread out across the section, Spartan Stadium wouldn’t consistently feature an ugly blemish of grey on TV whenever a camera pans across the Student Section. If you let Students choose where they want to sit, they’ll be more likely to buy tickets to come to the game. If you let them sell their general admission tickets when they can’t make the game, to another student, they’ll be more likely to buy tickets. And if you let them enter the stadium without it taking forever to get to their seat, they might actually want to come back more often, instead of swearing that they’d rather avoid the experience for all but the year’s biggest of home games.

*Interact with Jonathan on Twitter @JPSpartan or inside the Phalanx Forum

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