Mark Dantonio Gives A Comprehensive Update on the State of Michigan State Football After Watching CMU Film!

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Dantonio: After looking at the film obviously there are some things we need to clean up, but we finished the football game and we came away with the win. We are four and oh right now and basically looking to go to the next part of our season which is the Big Ten season.

Hondo: As you look over the entirety of your first four games work you are not playing as much press coverage. What are your thoughts on that and the success of it?

Dantonio: A lot of the things we do on game day are predicated by the calls the safeties make. They have opportunities to change things out there. Some of those things get changed and we may or may not have wanted them to press in that particular situation depending on the scenario but it gets played out by the players sometimes. It is something we need to address as we move through it. We played a lot of press vs. Oregon; you don’t play as much press at all versus an option team like Air Force. We were up there (vs. CMU) some and not on the other side, first game we played a lot and on third down we played off them a little more in the first game. You’ve got to look at it game to game.

Q: You have talked about wanting to do some tweaks to avoid plays over 40 yards?

Dantonio: We have not really changed in terms of what we’ve done. You are not going to go up there and press vs. Air Force playing the option. The other games I just went through that. (CMU game) there are certain times if they are playing off they are playing more of a cover two shell. It’s is more of a read type thing, but it may look off. It is a game to game thing and everybody does it a little bit. We have been caught in it some this year.

Q: You have given up more yards and time of possession than you like maybe, but would you say you’ve been effective on some of the things you’ve done?

Dantonio: What was disappointing in (CMU game) really was we got sacks. We sacked him four times.We blocked some kicks. We basically shut down the run with the exception of one play that was a result of a missed tackle and one guy filling a gap a little bit wrong. What was disappointing yesterday is when we got them in third and long numerous times. Third and ten plus, and they were able to convert. A lot of those conversions were good execution by Central Michigan, some bad technique by our guys and underneath routes are good schematics that are turn routes. It is third and seven and they run up eight yards and turn. The ball was on time, a number of times. It was frustrating to be in third and long situations and not get out of them more than what we did. In the second half we were much much better. I think they were two of nine in the second half on third and fourth down. So much much better in the second half, but too many yards given up on a third and 20 and you give up 18 and the next think you know is fourth and two or something like that. Those are the things that we need to correct, but I thought we played very very well on first down. Our first down efficiency as far as stopping them was 18 out of 18. 100%. I do not think we have ever been 100% on first down. That was frustrating because we got them in a third down situation and that usually leads to drives continuing which you saw that happen particularly.

Q; To clarify when you say 18 out of 18 is that holding them to three yards or less?

Dantonio: Yes, that is holding them to three yards or less making it second down and long.

Q: Gerald Holmes seemed to demonstrate some nice patience running the ball. After watching the film what did you think of him?

Dantonio: I think Gerald came in and did some really nice things. Sort of gave us a spark. He had a great run after a catch, and another little bit of patience as you said and very patient on the two touchdown runs. Tracked exactly where he needed to go.

Q: As the game went on you seemed to go left a lot. As the game went on Dennis Finley seemed to keep improving. After film review could you discuss that more please?

Dantonio: This was his first opportunity and he got better and better as the game went. I thought he played winning football. He is big he did exactly what he was supposed to do. He is a big guy and he is exceptionally sudden. He passed blocked well and other than one holding penalty I thought he played very well.

Q: It would appear you are settled with (Benny) McGowan at guard and (Donavon) Clark at tackle for most of the game right now and where is (Miguel) Machado right now?

Dantonio: I think that they played pretty well. I have not had a chance yet to sit with all the offensive coaches yet, but I have watched the film. I would say that Miguel Machado is still in the mix there although he didn’t play yesterday. We went with McGowan the whole time. I expect Miguel to play a little bit every game until he gets better. He’s got a lot of talent he just has to get experience and the only way to get it is to play him. He didn’t get that opportunity yesterday.

Hondo: There was a time here at MSU under your tenure of head coach that when a starter went down you held it together with prayers and duct tape. Now when a starter goes out you may not have experience, but you have very talented players to step right in. Is that a testimony to how far this program has come?

Dantonio: I think it is. I think we are deeper as a football team than we have been. We are inexperienced though at some positions and that is the key to it. I think Dennis Finley and Machado the week before got experience, game experience and there is nothing more important I think than game experience. You can practice all you want, but once you play in a game the practices all of a sudden mean a lot more because now you understand that there is great probability that you are going to play on Saturday. Higher stakes.

Q: How would you evaluate the play of Arjen Colquhoun now? He seems to have more confidence?

Dantonio: He is becoming more confident as a player, I thought he tackled well (vs. CMU) and needs to get up there and play at corner. I thought he did alright. I thought he did OK.

Q: Did you see progress between him and (Darian) Hicks having a few favorable downs?

Dantonio: Hicks played in the second half. I thought he had a good second half of play. He was a little bit tweaked there in the first half and we tried to hold him, but he ended up playing and playing very confidently. Graded winning.

Q: Were you shocked at the score of this weekend’s Oregon game?

Dantonio: I saw the score. I didn’t watch much of it. Things happen. I don’t know what the deal was with them injury wise (Starting QB Vernon Adams did not play) I just know that when we played them there was very high expectations for them. They had a good football team. I’m not sure what happened, but obviously Utah has a very good football team as well. I keep saying it every week. There is a lot of parity in college football. It is about matchups. It’s about coming every Saturday and facing adversity and being able to fight through things. I thought we did that (vs. CMU) and we finished. We won going away which is probably as important as anything.

Q: Why has Purdue been a thorn in your side the last two years? Could it be his ties to OSU where you and Coach Bollman where?

Dantonio: Not sure. I just know that Purdue is just a game since we’ve been here and this is our seventh year playing them, it’s always been a great football game. We’ve just managed to win them. But they have been great football games and highly contested. You go back to even 2010 and 2011, those years and they are just good football games. I’m not too sure why, I haven’t started watching Purdue this year yet, but they have lost some close games and they have been in every game. They are going to come to play and we’ll be ready to play.

Q: Was the plan on Saturday to play (Demetrious) Cox at safety. He came in for (Montae) Nicholson and where is Montae now?

Dantonio: Day Day (Cox) has always been a safety/corner. He has always gotten reps at either or. He has also played STAR (LB) so he can play really any position out there in the secondary. That gives us a great advantage. He has been solid at corner. Montae needed to play better and now he has played more of a boundary safety type position and maybe that is what he needs to play. I’m not sure. We’ll look at that this week. We needed to have a player playing better at that position so we went in that direction and so we gave Darian Hicks a shot at that corner position and he played well and Cox played well at the safety position. We’ve got guys that can play back there and we’ve got some depth. We’ve got to continue to develop more depth. Khari Willis played (vs. CMU) and I thought he did a good job. You will see more of Khari Willis as we move forward in some ways. We’ll go from there.

Hondo: Is there someone that maybe to the naked eye you didn’t notice during the game, but when watching the film really stood out as having a good game vs. CMU?

Dantonio: I think that obviously Shilique Calhoun had a great game; I thought Riley Bullough in the second half played well. Darian Hicks played well. I thought on the offensive side we’ve already talked about Gerald Holmes, but every running back had his moments. Up front I was impressed with Finley as he did, Jack Allen played very well, and Donavon Clark was very solid. Our tight ends all played well and had big plays.

Q: Wondering if you would be willing to say if any long term injuries developed from the CMU game?

Dantonio: No.

Q: Is that no injuries did or no you would not be willing to comment?

Dantonio: I am not willing to talk about it.

Q: A number of players talked after the game about wanting Riley Bullough back for the second half. Could you discuss his leadership please?

Dantonio: Riley is a MIKE linebacker for us. I thought Shane did a nice job as well. Riley is an enthusiastic guy whose motor is always running. He handles adversity well and I think our players look to that. I also think a lot of guys got involved in that capacity, on both sides of the ball actually, and I think we had a very strong fourth quarter. Which I thought was important that we had.

Q: On the TV broadcast they said that there was an effort by the staff to get Shilique to get away from so many moves and use his speed and hands more? Did you do that?

Dantonio: I really can’t say that one way or the other. I think that Coach Burton probably every week we are trying to get better. We are critiquing ourselves and trying to get better and changing things week to week so that we are not always doing things the same. I’m sure that is on an individual basis as well. For me to sit here and say all of a sudden that he just changed his whole game I don’t think that is the case. I just think he played well on Saturday and we’ll constantly try to get better.

Q: Is there a chance we may see some freshman corners and is this team where you want it to be heading in to the Big Ten season?

Dantonio: I don’t ever know if I can ever remember me sitting there saying that our football team is exactly where I wanted it to be. I just always look and say here is a problem, how do you fix that problem and there is always problems. There is always a problem. I’m watching ESPN, Big Ten Network, NFL Network and it looks like there are problems all over the place. You try to fix them and you want to get off the field. When it is third and long you want to get off the field. I feel that should be tilted towards the defense. We didn’t get off the field. For whatever the reason, it is not the same reason every time. It is a different reason here and a different reason there so what we have to do is correct it. Play with confidence and come out and get better. That is what we have to do. Continually get better as a football team as we make our way through this schedule. We are going to get everybody’s best shot. It is to that point, so we need to expect that and be prepared for that and also play at our abilities. If there is anything that frustrates you it is when you don’t see your players playing at their full potential. That is all I want. I just want us to play at our full potential. Whatever that is as an individual player I look for that in every single player. That is as important as anything and don’t flinch.