College Football Notes & Quotes: Week 7

Jonathan Schopp

The Spartan Nation has a lot to stand up and applaud.  Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.
The Spartan Nation has a lot to stand up and applaud. Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.

Spartan Nation talked to various Coaches around the Big Ten earlier this week. Here’s some highlights and insight from around the league to get you ready for the Conference’s third weekend of league play.

Mark Dantonio

On what he learned from the Spartans’ experience in 1999 (6-0 start followed by two straight road losses), and any other similar instances, in order to avoid a letdown after this strong start:

“I think it speaks to the maturity of a football team, in terms of how you’re able to take every single game and place it as the most important game of your season. We’ll have to be able to do that. This will be a test for us in that area…As far as 1999; different players, different people. I think we’ve responded in both years, in ’08 and ’09 (both Wins, after beating Michigan)…we’ll use that as a point of emphasis in moving forward.”

On the momentum and mood around the Spartan Football program right now:

“Well, obviously when you win, you have a great feeling…The message we have to sent to our players is, again, “this is about maturity.” We’re at the half way point, we’re not 10 games into the season…playing a good Illinois team here, at home. We need to win our home games, first and foremost…There’s confidence here, we’ve got an edge to ourselves in terms of the success we’ve already had, and we need to build on those things.”

On the emergence of Keyshawn Martin, and his reflections now from Martin’s recruiting process:

“When we first started recruiting him, I saw a great playmaker playing a number of different positions. Every time he touched the ball, something was going to happen. He’s really continued in that vein since he’s come here…He’s a threat every time he touches the ball.”

On the improvement in the Spartan Secondary thus far in 2010:

“We continue to get better and better as we move forward. We’re playing better on 3rd down. Our guys have great deep ball judgment…With opportunities to play, (young) players will play, and they’ll be prepared.”

Jim Tressel

On whether an opponent’s Offensive system influences his play calls for the Ohio St. Offense:

“I think the efficiency of which someone runs a system…whether it be Wisconsin with their system of outstanding “power” and good “play-action,” and good drop back and movement of their pocket, and so forth, (or a spread attack, or alternative Offensive approach)… you want to make sure that you give them as few possessions as you can…I don’t know that the system makes a difference.”

On whether he or Ohio St. sent any of the MSU Coaches a commemorative “gold pendant” in congratulations for the Spartans victory over Michigan last week:

“Gold Pendants to the Michigan St. staff? I don’t know anything about that other than some of those guys worked here…and they earned some things of their own (while working at Ohio St.)…I was busy that day (beating Indiana last Saturday).”

Rich Rodriguez

On whether the MSU Defense showed anything Saturday that Michigan had not already seen from the Spartans on film:

“No, they did some similar things. We’ve kinda seen everything throughout the years against our Offense, just as any Offensive Coach would say. You see the whole gamut of fronts and coverages, and movements, and things like that. What our guys experienced up front, they had seen it before, and I thought in the game they made some adjustments. In the beginning of the game, the whole 1st half, we felt comfortable moving the ball. But the 2nd half, we didn’t execute as well. ”

On why the Spartan Defense was able to keep So. QB Denard Robinson under 100 rushing yards:

“They did a nice job of tackling and getting off blocks. Again, they’ve got good players. And there were moments that we didn’t execute as well, and Denard wasn’t as sharp as he’s been in some other games…We’ve just gotta correct our mistakes. And the challenge is huge this week, we’re playing one of the best Defenses in the country without question, in Iowa, that doesn’t give up yards to anybody.”

On mounting concerns that the Wolverines’ depth has been completely decimated by injuries:

“It’s a major concern. I think a lot of Coaches probably have it throughout the country. I don’t know if I’ve had a season with this many season-ending injuries, with a broken foot, broken ankle, broken leg, and torn shoulder. It’s frustrating, and kinda limiting some of the things we can do, and probably forcing some guys into action probably earlier than we want. But that’s the reality, and we’ve gotta deal with it. We try to do very limited hitting during the week, to try to get them ready, but at the same time you gotta do some fundamentals during the week. So I’m always holding my breath and crossing my fingers on Tuesday and Wednesday practices, especially on Tuesday, because we can’t afford to lose anybody else.”

Ron Zook

On his impressions of the MSU Offense, and specifically “The BBC” (Bell, Baker, & Caper) led rushing attack:

“…As you turn the tape on and begin to watch, those guys…for gosh sakes, they’re running the ball every bit as well as they did (in 2008)…I think it really allows them (as an Offense), because they’re running the ball so well, to play action, and the boots (QB bootlegs), with the Quarterback to really put a stretch on the Defense.

They’ve kinda taken the philosophy that, just like if you’re an Option Offense, you think that the Defense has to be “Option sound” and “assignment free,” and all those things. It’s the same thing with what they’re doing. Because they run the ball so well, when you try to pack the box in there, then the play action will get you if you’re not reading your keys.”

On his impressions of the Spartan Defense, especially since the start of Big Ten play:

“They’re going to put a whole bunch of people in the box, they’re going to force you to throw the football, and they’re going to stop the run. It’s what a lot of us do in the Big Ten…They’ve got the All-American “Mike” Linebacker (Sr. Captain Greg Jones) that’s just doing a great job and continuing to play well. They try to get you into 3rd and long, and then they’re going to put him on the edge and rush him…That’s where he gets the majority of his sacks.

(MSU)…A football team that runs extremely well…they’ve got 11 Seniors on that football team starting, so it’s a group that’s been around a long time and doing the same thing. The more times you do the same thing, the better you’re going to be.”

On the momentum building at Illinois right now from the Coaching overhaul (new Offensive and Defensive Coordinators) since last year:

“Well, the guys have really bought into it…The thing we’re really trying to do is what our players do best.”

On his assessment of the Special Teams challenge with MSU:

“(Special Teams) could be the difference in the game…I believe they’re second in the league in Punting. They’ve got a returner back there, that’s the one area that they’re better than us (kick returns)…leading the Big Ten, and a guy (Jr. Keyshawn Martin) that, every time he gets the ball in his hands, you hold your breath. It’s going to take a great effort in the Special Teams…It’ll take all that everyone’s got.”

P.A.T. (Perhaps Another Thought…)

Mike Hart never got it in the first place. If you listen to Hart’s original “little brother” quote, he essentially said that the Spartans saw themselves as Michigan’s “little brother,” so that’s why he tagged them as such. Someone gave Hart the wrong information. No one I’ve ever been around at MSU, since the late 90s, has seen it that way. Hart sounds like he’s read a few too many stories from the stale Detroit media. Those people don’t get it. They all too often recycle the same outdated and lazy material they’ve used for more than 20 years now. And they wonder why people have stopped reading their papers!

MSU isn’t the same place it was when Magic Johnson was in school, more than 30 years ago now, or even the same as it was during the early 90s. No one in Green who arrived on campus after somewhere around 1995 thinks they’re any kid of “little brother” to Michigan. A lot Spartans in this “modern era” chose to go to Michigan St. instead of Michigan. We see the University of Michigan as a relatively equal and complementary sibling rival. Now of late, if anything, big time Spartans athletics have made Michigan look a lot more like an over matched “little sister” than any kind of “older brother.” Wouldn’t you say, Mike?

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