Mark Dantonio Talks Spartan Football Heading To the Pinstripe Bowl Vs. Wake Forest
Hondo S. Carpenter
East Lansing, MI
The Michigan State Football team's 2019 season was a disaster. What started with promises from the head coach, staff and players of contention for a Big Ten title, quickly wallowed in a fourth straight year of offensive mediocrity.
Mark Dantonio's decision last season to fire none of the woefully unproductive offensive staff after a third straight year of bad performance, proved early this season to have been a mistake. So now they wait. They reached a record of 6-6 that spells nothing less than mediocrity and the lowest standard for post-season play.
Now we know that they are headed to New York City (The Bronx) to take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee stadium. The game is on the 27 of December. That game kicks off at 3:20 PM and can be seen on ESPN.
Below is the transcript of Dantonio’s press conference and above is the complete video.
We're excited about the opportunity to represent Michigan State at the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. It should be an exciting atmosphere for our football team. A lot of our guys have not been to New York City; I've heard great things from various coaches, Big Ten and otherwise. Our student-athlete experience should be outstanding there.
We're playing against a good Wake Forest team that was 8-4 and plays extremely well on the offensive side of the ball. Coach Clawson was at Bowling Green, he did a great job there, and now he's down at Wake Forest. Yankee Stadium, the opportunity to play there should be outstanding as well, something many of our players certainly have not been exposed to. So we'll have the opportunity to play there.
Tough to win, but we look forward to taking the next step and being 7-6, and that's the best we can do at this point in time. Last night, watched the game a little bit (Big Ten Championship Game) and took a step back in time, had the opportunity to represent Michigan State in that game. I think three out of five times there, in 2011, 2013, 2015, so it takes you back a little bit. So we need to continue to ride the horse toward that horizon.
On if players won't play in the bowl game…
No, just coming off the road (recruiting). I haven't see our football team and I don't anticipate that, but you never know, so we'll deal with that as it comes. Been through a recruiting week this weekend so I haven't been around our players. We have the opportunity to look at things this week, exam week comes this week, so our guys are busy.
Have you been to Yankee Stadium and do you have connections to people at Wake Forest?
No, I have not been to Yankee Stadium so I'm looking forward to it. No, I don't have any relationship with anyone there at Wake Forest. Other than Coach Clawson, who I know a little bit.
Difficulty of playing a December game outside…
I think we're conditioned for that at the very least. We've played in the cold, we've experienced it and we'll have an opportunity to train in it as well. I don't think that'll be a problem for us.
How important is getting that practice outside…
Yeah it's a little bit, New York is a little bit warmer temperature-wise than probably here. But we'll have to see how it all plays out. We'll have the opportunity to practice here in this environment and then also over there, so we'll be ready to go.
Two straight years in California, so how big of a difference is this bowl game?
We were going to make whatever experience we had the opportunity to make a great experience for our student athletes, for our players. No matter which bowl game we went to, we were going to embrace that and move forward. I think the main thing that makes anyone happy is when you win the bowl game. We've been to California, we've put our guys on the coast and let them walk into the Pacific, a lot of guys have never done that. Now we have the opportunity to take our football team to New York City and a lot of our guys have never been to New York City. That's an opportunity that they'll remember for the rest of their life. And those are the type of things that when you're in these bowl games I think that's something you have to bring forward as well. So that'll be a good experience. I hear the Yankees do a tremendous job with the bowl game. And I've already looked at their itineraries and everything they have laid out and it's very organized. It looks like they'll have the opportunity to do some unique things.
On bowl game framing next season…
I think you want to have momentum leaving your season when it's going like this. We were able to do that in '12 and it paid dividends to '13. As far as this year, we look forward to do that. As I said before, we rise towards the horizon. To generally answer that question, I just know that 7-6 is better than 6-7 and it's better than 6-6. That's where we find ourselves right now. I don't like being there, but at the same time we are where we're at. So, we need to be able to do something about that. We've got a relatively young team coming back in a lot of ways. We lose some good players, but in a lot of ways some of those players have been hurt. Darrell Stewart and some of our offensive linemen and those types of things. We've had injuries. Hopefully we can get some of those guys back, but we'll see as we go through this next week.
On bowl game being early and practicing early…
Yeah, we'll start next Friday or Saturday with bowl prep and begin on Monday through the week. We'll leave the 23rd… a Monday. Monday the 23rd.
On quarterback changes for bowl game…
We're going to make sure that we give our young quarterbacks an opportunity in practice. We can't play four guys in the bowl game. We're going to make sure that we give them opportunities in practice to get full reps. Sometimes in bowl practice or normal practices you tend to go from one to twos and threes and fours don't get as many reps. So, we need to make sure that they have an opportunity to show what they have, meaning full reps.
On Kevin Jarvis redshirting and health status…
I don't really want to talk about injuries right now, but we'll see how that shakes out. Like I said, I haven't even been here for a week (out recruiting).
On staffing decisions…
That's an after the season thing as we move forward. Right now, my focus is on signing our class, getting in for a bowl game, student-athlete experience, winning a football game and winning the bowl game. I will say this as I said earlier, when I sat back and watched that game last night (Big Ten Championship) and put myself back at that point in time, I had a lot of people who were back in that point in time with me. I'll make those decisions, and we'll make those decisions and sit down and think about those types of things after the season.
On playing in Yankee Stadium and atmosphere…
I know that there's a lot of Spartans on the East Coast and this will give them an opportunity to go to New York City on the 27th and be a part of that. That's a very festive time in New York City. Then also, get an opportunity to watch the Spartans play. It should be a good experience. It's been a great game. It's been well run. I think 3:20 slot on ESPN on Friday. So, there will be millions watching. It will be an opportunity to represent and we need to do those kind of things.
On recruiting and transfer portal…
That's an interesting concept… the transfer portal. There's over 2,000 people in the transfer portal. It's very difficult to look at it. We have it segmented out. We have one guy who deals with just the portal. It's sort of difficult to try and figure your way through it right now. You have to look at grades. You have to look at where they're at in terms of if they're going to have to sit out or if they're graduate transfers. There's all these different categories that you have to look at relative to what the needs are and things of that nature. So, we are looking at those things. In the first week, I thought the most important pressing thing was for me to be where I need to be with our current committed guys, so that's what I've focused on. It's interesting though.
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