Mark Dantonio Talks Riley Bullough, and Comparing Conferences!
Hondo S. Carpenter
Q: It sounds like you took Riley Bullough a little bit by surprise when you gave him the experiment in spring.
A: I think we took everybody by surprise.
Q: Now that itâ€™s no longer a surprise to him and heâ€™s had the spring and summer to hone that running back craft, what are some things that he can work on to fine tune it and take it from functional to even better?
A: I think pad level, pad level is one. Heâ€™s an extremely tough runner but heâ€™s gotta get his pads down. We just threw him in there. We literallyâ€¦ I walked out to practice and said, Youâ€™re gonna play tailback. So we just threw him in there to see what he would look like. That was the last three practices. So now heâ€™s had to opportunity, just like Max. He has an extremely dedicated work ethic. I think heâ€™s spent a lot of time in the film room watching all the cut-ups. Somebody told me that heâ€™s gone back and watched cut-ups from 2010-2011. Thatâ€™s what I heard. I wouldnâ€™t be surprised if he didnâ€™t go back and see what Jehuu Caulcrick was doing. So I mean heâ€™s a do-er. Heâ€™s gonna find out the best way to do things. Heâ€™s motivated. The one thing about himâ€¦heâ€™s athletic, he can jump, he can run, heâ€™s tough, heâ€™s smart.
Q: Are you guys watching film? Are you looking ahead now or does that come maybe later in July?
A: No, weâ€��ve looked ahead. Weâ€™ve done that. Weâ€™ve done our summer studies, so we have looked aheadâ€¦with the spring games, with the different things. But as I sat and I told my staff today, here we are on June 20th, I feel like thereâ€™s this big funnel. Like this recruiting, summer studies, players working outâ€¦itâ€™s all running right down on you, right today. So everything is just coming right down the tube. This is the time of year which I think coaches all live for too. Itâ€™s time to get away and be with their families, go on vacation, do the things like that, be a regular person. So thatâ€™s what weâ€™re gonna do. Thereâ€™s always gonna be somebody here. Weâ€™re always gonna do our work, Iâ€™m sure. But itâ€™s gonna be away from here and away from us. We need to get away from each other a little bit. Thatâ€™s what weâ€™ll do.
Q: It seems like Kentucky has made its move into Ohio. You hear so much about the Southeastern Conference. How do you combat that and where do you feel like the Big 10 is right now?
A: How do I combat Kentucky?
Q: Just the SEC image where the kids think thatâ€™s where you gotta go to play great football.
A: I go back to what I say, you gotta find the truth. What is the truth? Itâ€™s about people. Most people in the Midwestâ€¦Ohio, Michigan, Midwestâ€¦they wanna play where their family can come watch them play. They wanna play at places that theyâ€™ve watched play all their lives. So that would be the first thing. The second thing would beâ€¦ I think what youâ€™re looking for wherever you go to school is continuity. I donâ€™t know how much continuity Kentucky has.
Q: As far as the level of Big 10 playâ€¦if it is a little behind as a Conference, is it not that far off to expect better?
A: I donâ€™t know if youâ€™re ever gonna be able to say who has the best Conference, unless you take All-Star teams from these Conferences and play them against each other. Games come down to the end. When games come down to the end, how do you equate that? Are you making a decision on a Conference based on an interception or a fumble, or are you making a decision on a Conference because of complete dominance? I donâ€™t see the complete dominance. I see two great Conferences with great fan bases, with great players playing, and I see that at more than two places. I see that in the PAC 12; I see that in the Big 12; and I see that in the Big 14 or whatever, 12, 10. I see it in the ACC. You see it across the country. I think on any given day, depends how you play, that the game comes down to turnovers, tackling, the little things that make the game real. To try and put a perception out there is tough sometimes. Thatâ€™s tough. But that perception exists and what we have to do is combat that perception. I guess weâ€™re gonna find out as we get closer to 2016.