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Mark Dantonio Goes Indepth on the Quarterback Situation (Including 2014 Impact) Coach Bollman and More!

Q: With the quarterbacks, I know you wanna get some of the underclassmen ready. Do you wanna take a similar approach with what you did with Kirk Cousins in’08, more late in the season than earlier?

A: I think we have to give our players, obviously, some reps in August. And then as we’ve always tried to do, play our younger players a little bit early in the season, to let them get their feet on the ground. My feeling is that Andrew suffered greatly last year because of not playing in 2011 very much. I think that hurt him. That hurt his experience. That hurt his level of confidence. He started out great, fast. Some things happened, where balls aren’t caught or whatever the case. That has a tendency to work on you a little bit. I think he’s refreshed, he’s experienced, he’s ready to go. He’s been able to step back and reevaluate what he’s gotta do and what he has to do physically and mentally and then I think he’s ready to go. But with that being said, the best players are gonna play and we’ve gotta have somebody ready for the 2014 season. So that means that player has to experience some reps throughout the year I think, however it shakes out. But we can’t go into a year again with a guy not experienced. I think it hurt Cousins in ’09 and I think it hurt Maxwell in 2012.

Q: Based on what you just said, if camp is going along and you’re impressed with Damion Terry and think he could be in the running next year, would that mean you probably wouldn’t redshirt him? You would play him because you don’t want a QB next year with no experience?

A: Yeah. We’re gonna play the best player, we’ve always tried to do that here. One thing our players understand when they come in this room is it does not exist simply by years. Whether you’re a senior or you’re a redshirt freshman or whether you’re a true freshman or whether you’re a walk-on, you’re gonna have equal opportunity. If you’re the best player you will play. I think that’s a lot to ask for a young player. I’ve never had a freshman quarterback, and this will be my tenth year coaching. I’ve never had a freshman quarterback play. I guess we’ve never really had a redshirt freshman quarterback play. He is extremely talented. All of them bring something to the table. I think that’s the thing that I’m excited about when you look at our quarterback position. From an experience standpoint what did we have last year? Zero. Nothing. Very limited. This year we have a lot of experience back, a lot of reps, some good, some bad. We’ve got a guy that was put into the bowl game with 2 minutes to go. That’s crunch time, that’s a major experience lender I think. We’ve got a redshirt freshman who has got a lot of reps over the course of the spring. He did some good things, had a disappointing spring game, but there was area for growth there. We’ve got a very talented freshman coming in. So we’ve got more numbers, top to bottom more experience, top to bottom I feel more ability maybe more than we’ve ever had here in terms of four quarterbacks, I think. Usually we’re dealing with three, I think. Sometimes two.

Q: You told us earlier that the defensive staff went and talked to the folks at LSU. You said you didn’t know where the offense was gonna go until you got the coordinators in place. Now that that’s done, where did you send them?

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A: Our offensive staff pretty much stayed intact here. Basically because we needed to work through problems that we had and also because new people coaching new positions, etc. So that’s one thing that we sorta held on a little bit. We’ll probably get to some place here in July. And before we go to camp they’ll have an opportunity to do that. We’ve sort of held on that idea. Individually they’ve gone out and gone different places, but collectively as a staff… With a guy coming in from outside we’ve got somebody adding to the mix conceptually with a lot of experience.

Q: There’s been a lot of talk about Coach Bollman and his experience at Ohio State. A read option seems to be something that all teams seem to be putting in to some degree. Do you think that’s here to stay?

A: Yeah, I do think things go in cycles in football. I think you’ll see higher formations come back into football. Two-back sets, which you’re seeing people do that now more than they had 2-3 years ago. I think you’re also seeing option football come back into play much like you saw when I was playing in college. The veer option was big. I think they do it different ways off of, as you said read things, read option, different things that they do. I do think it’s here to stay because I think the traditional quarterback… How many guys are in the shotgun in high school now? The traditional tight end… How many guys play the traditional tight end position? That’s why Dion Sims came out and was so highly thought of. Very few tight ends that are on the line stationary tight ends, Deion had the ability to move and such. We move our guys a lot, but the traditional guy doesn’t exist as much anymore. They’re more hybrid guys, they’re more pass catchers, they’re more on the move guys, a lot of one-back set on the gun, offset tight end here and move him. Ride the option, bring it out, ride the read as you said, bring out the option. There’s various ways people are doing that and they’re continually trying to improvise even more and be more innovative. I think defenses though are catching up more, they’re catching up to that.

Q: In regards to what Northwestern did, not so much against the Spartans, but what they did against Michigan. How much of a challenge does that present for defenses now that we’re seeing that kind of tactic, versatility…

A: It obviously presents a challenge. I think Northwestern… When Randy Walker was there it sort of started the running back, quarterback runs and things of that nature, pulling people. I was just remembering in 2000 I was at Michigan State here and they ran the ball and had 500 yards offense. The next year we played Ohio State, I was at Ohio State, and I think they got 260. But that’s because we worked on those things. So I think defenses have a tendency to work on and critique over the course of the summer and everything. In August they try and catch up, and they try and find the schemes that are gonna stop the various people they’re gonna play. It’s a cat and mouse game.