Mark Dantonio Talks About his Bye Week Spartans
Q: At this point are you still planning to redshirt Damion Terry?
A: We make redshirt decisions as we go. Weâ€™re not making the decision right now. As of right now heâ€™ll be our scout team quarterback. Heâ€™s not gonna get the reps with the 1â€™s or 2â€™s. You never know how things shake out.
Q: Connor talked after the game about your confidence in him. Have you talked with him again since Sunday about coming out late and the confidence you still have in him?
A: Yeah, weâ€™ve had our conversations. Yeah, of course. You talk to all your players, especially ones that are in positions of leadership. So, good talk.
Q: Who will be the quarterbackâ€¦(??) Whoâ€™s gonna be that 2 right now?
A: Uh, right now weâ€™ll see whether itâ€™s Maxwell or whether itâ€™s Tyler Oâ€™Connor. Based on practices this week and next week.
Q: What are you looking forward to the most about this bye week?
A: You know, I think itâ€™s an opportunity to step away. Itâ€™s an opportunity for our players to sort of step back and re-evaluate themselves a little bit, re-evaluate where weâ€™re at, refocus and regroup and place your foot in the ground and drive forward. Just to sort of separate yourself a little bit from football. You never can completely get away from it, but you just allow yourself a little bit of a deep breath before you go under. When you go underâ€¦the Big 10 seasonâ€¦you gonna take a deep breath and you gonna dive underneath, under the water pretty deep. So itâ€™s an opportunity for us to do that, all of us.
Q: Do you have to remind yourself that youâ€¦(??) When you came here nobody was thinking Big 10 title, they were just happy to go to a Bowl game.
A: Well, I embrace the high expectations. We have very high expectations here. If you look at last weekâ€™s game weâ€™re 4-0. Like I said on Sunday, we lost a football game but we didnâ€™t lose our way. We could have won the football game many different ways. You guys pick them. You know, we didnâ€™t. We congratulate Notre Dame and move on. We have an opportunity to win every single football game we play in. I think our football teamâ€™s improving. I think thereâ€™s strength in certain areas that weâ€™re gonna be able to accentuate. And then thereâ€™s other things that are weaknesses that we gotta work on. Thatâ€™s just the way the game is, really. Youâ€™re gonna have that and you gotta play to your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. But weâ€™re excited about it.
Q: Do you think you could have relied a little more on the running game in that game? Do you think moving forward thatâ€™s one of the things that youâ€™re gonna want to do more?
A: You have to stay balanced. You have to stay balanced as a football team. Itâ€™s hard to say, you know. As you go through that game and you look at it, we had two 15 yard penalties that helped us in the one drive. But youâ€™ve gotta stay balanced, otherwise youâ€™re just gonna become one-dimensional. So we have to do things for the long haul. We say weâ€™re gonna go to Notre Dame with the idea of getting better as a football team and also allowing ourselves to grow. Well, you canâ€™t grow if youâ€™re just gonna become one-dimensional. You have to put people out there and allow them those opportunities. Things didnâ€™t work out as we wanted to at the end of the deal, but that football team played in a national championship game last year so obviously they have some good players. I thought we played right there and had opportunities to win.
Q: As a Head Coach, is this the deepest unit youâ€™ve ever had on defense, being able to plug in guys like RJ and Jairus?
A: Yeah, I think it is. I do think it is. We have guys who can play at a high level that are 2â€™s, even at our linebacker position. We have those guysâ€¦I think Ed Davis has realy grown as a player. Heâ€™s gonna be a great player for us. Youâ€™ll see him playing as well.
Q: What are you doing for #2 starter right now?
A: Weâ€™ve moved Mylan Hicks there but I think also that Darien Harris could move out there. Heâ€™s played out there before. Heâ€™s a 4.4 guy, 215 lb. linebacker than can really run, strong, heâ€™s got game experience. Mylan can go out there and play.Â We have to see how heâ€™s gonna be able to play in the box. But heâ€™s a tough guy, weighs about 200 lbs. Heâ€™s active and he can do some of the things that Jarius was able to do. He can sort of play offâ€¦complement Taiwan as he plays.
Q: Is Harrisâ€™s future more likely out there or inside as heâ€™s been repping here?
A: I think he can be any place, any one of those three places. Heâ€™s just looking for an opportunity to get involved. Heâ€™s a good football player. Heâ€™s shown that. The one summer scrimmage that we had he had 10, 11 tackles. He played with the 1â€™s the whole day, the whole day, and was very, very good at mike. Heâ€™s played out at star before and he has the athletic ability to do that. So that should be a place for him to go to.
Q: Is (??) back after Notre Dame and is he gonna play defense or offense?
A: HE will begin toâ€¦ Heâ€™s not been able to do too much, but he will begin to move back into the conditioning phase of it and weâ€™ll see how far he can come. Can he be ready for Iowa? Weâ€™ll see. But we have to sort of see how heâ€™s coming. We have to watch him. But heâ€™s gonna start to progress this week.
Q: This week do you start game planning for Iowa or is it more just about you guys?
A: I think today is about us, tomorrow a little bit about Iowa because we have a very solid foundation in terms of who they are after playing them for the last 6 years. And then you game plan basically next week after we see their game, we start to game plan more intensely, I think around Sunday. I think you gotta watch who they are as of late. But thereâ€™ll be a pretty good idea in terms of what they do and those type of things as we move into tomorrow actually.
Q: Is the bye week a good chance for Jamal Lyles to make up for some lost time?
A: Yeah, I think it gives Jamal a chance to settle in a little bit at tight end. He can still play defensive end and maybe get some reps there as we go. Heâ€™s growing, learning, because he missed all spring and really all fall camp at tight end. So heâ€™s coming. He had a great catch I thought on Saturday and thereâ€™s gonna be opportunities for him to get more involved.
Q: So itâ€™s practice today, tomorrow and then off until you come back Sunday?
A: Yeah, weâ€™ll practice on Sunday but weâ€™ll be off. I think itâ€™s good for them to get away a little bit, watch college games. Also, hopefully theyâ€™ll have a chance to go home. You donâ€™t have many chances to go home as a college football player. So hopefully theyâ€™ll take advantage of that opportunity to go home and maybe see their high school team play or just go home and see their family for a day.
Q: Is there anybody else getting a look at any new positions?
A: We may switch people in and out, but weâ€™ll let you know.
Q: What do you think about Macgarrett Kingsâ€™s development?
Â A: I think Macgarrettâ€™s done a great job of catching the football. I think he still needs to clean up his routes. Heâ€™s still a young player. But heâ€™s exciting to watch and he can catch the ball very, very well. He can definitely do something after the catch.
Q: We talked Sunday night about offensive line. With the guys moving in and out, have you been impressed with the way theyâ€™ve performed the first few weeks?
A: Yeah, I have. Last Saturday the quarterback got hit 6 times. If youâ€™re not getting hit, youâ€™ve got a chance to make good plays. Youâ€™re able to run the ball as well. Weâ€™ll work some different deals in there.
Q: WR not on the same page as the quarterback. Is that him as a young receiver still figuring out where he is?
A: Yeah, I think heâ€™s a young receiver and itâ€™s a game to game thing with him sometimes when youâ€™re young. But heâ€™s got a lot of ability. Weâ€™ve gotta wait for him to take that next step.
Q: Is Kings your guy on punt and kick return now?
A: Right now Macgarrettâ€™s back there returning kicks and punts right now. Weâ€™ll see on kickoffs, but punts for sure right now. Yeah.
Q: Have you heard back from anyone on those pass interference calls and how does that process work when you send it in?
A: Yeah, Iâ€™ve heard back.
Q: What did they say?
A: Iâ€™m not allowed to talk about what they say. But Iâ€™ve heard back. Doesnâ€™t make it any better.
Q: So youâ€™re not gonna change anything?
A: Iâ€™m gonna keep coaching it the same way.
Q: Since you canâ€™t tell us, did you get any apology cards?
A: Nope, nope. Iâ€™m just working my job.
Q: If youâ€™re coaching it the same way then the way it was called was probably not the way it was supposed to be called. Is that a fair assessment?
A: Youâ€™re reading into things. You guys can look at the film.
Q: What do you have in Iowa?
A: Every year youâ€™re gonna see a team that plays extremely hard and theyâ€™re gonna be fundamentally sound both defensively and offensively. And theyâ€™re gonna do what they do. Theyâ€™re a little bit like usâ€¦they do what they do and they do it well. I think right now theyâ€™ve sort of pulled themselves together and are playing very, very well. So thatâ€™s who they are. Theyâ€™re gonna be a well-coached football team.
Q: Kittredge and Thomas?
A: Theyâ€™re very, very solid. Theyâ€™re solid 2â€™s right now. So those other two guys gotta work themselves back in. But theyâ€™re good players as well. Gives us added depth.
Q: Do you wanna establish that front five before going in there?
A: I think we wanna establish our top seven guys, really. Youâ€™ve gotta be able to play guys in there. Youâ€™re gonna have some injuries. But I think itâ€™s also important that whoeverâ€™s in there is on the same page with each other and feels comfortable with that. If youâ€™ve got five thatâ€™s great, if youâ€™ve got six thatâ€™s better, if youâ€™ve got seven thatâ€™s even better. But I consider all those guys starters. Theyâ€™ve played enough football to be considered starters here.
Q: Is that some of the motivationâ€¦the pass injuries, making sure you keep more guys weaved into the game? Is that sort of why youâ€™ve done some of the shuffling like this?
A: Weâ€™ve done the shuffling around because I think Fouâ€™s a senior and he deserves to be in there some. Jack Conklin is a redshirt freshman, continuing to grow. As is Donavan Clark continuing to grow. Youâ€™ve got Travis whoâ€™s played a lot of football for us. Jack can go in in different positions. So youâ€™re trying to give people opportunities. They deserve that. And theyâ€™ve all played well for us in the past.