Michigan State Spartans Head Coach Mark Dantonio Talks Georgia Bulldogs and the Outback Bowl

Hondo S. Carpenter





Opening statement:

“We’re excited to be here. We’ll start our second practice today. We had a great practice yesterday as well. We’ll go today until around one o’clock. It will be our second day in pads. Again, the same things we’re looking at; how we’re practicing, how we’re moving around. Are we going to have energy or not, that’s a choice we make every single day we come out there. We try to put an emphasis on that, just try to be prepared. We’re playing an outstanding opponent. We have a great challenge ahead of us, at the same time, it’s important for our players to finish. That’s what we’re trying to do to the best of our abilities. The people have been unbelievable here at this bowl game in terms of just any kind of thing that we need, from a cooperation standpoint trying to make it a little easier for us at each step. We appreciate everybody’s hospitality.”

On a concern for playing 14 games this season:

“It was a long season for us playing 14 games. We had a bye week in there. That’s why we took two weeks and didn’t do anything. We had one week after the championship game and then we had exam week and then we went back to work and then had vacation, so I think we’re rested. We’ve put everything behind us and we’re looking forward. That’s what we’ve been able to do as a football program really since we’ve been there, we’ve always been able to look forward and bring some energy to the game. I’m quite sure that’s going to happen for our football team. I continue to say we’ve got great leadership. Ground level, our players understand what they have to do in terms of just the energy that they have to bring in that leadership capacity. I’m not concerned about that.”

On whether he’s worried about having too much time to prepare:

“I think both teams have an opportunity to change things. We do what we do. You study what you have to study. You study the players, you study what they do. You look at your own football team and ask how you can make it better, how you can assess what you’ve already done. You’ve had time to do that but at the same time you’re still trying to recruit, still trying to squeeze some Christmas in there, do different things, so it’s challenging. The big thing is, as we talked about early on, bring energy to the football game. At the end of the day, players play and coaches coach, but you have to have enthusiasm on both sides, players and coaches.”

On how changes in the media have affected coaching:

“I would say certainly things have changed. I’ve been a head coach now for eight years and things have certainly changed since that time; that short a span. You see a change, I think, for the better. In a lot of cases you deal with a lot of things like coach just said. This is the information age I guess you can say. Whether it was Facebook initially, or now it’s Twitter, everybody’s got a Twitter account. You wondering why does he had a Twitter account? Who really cares? But the information gets out there. Again, we have to monitor that as well. In some respects you’re held accountable, sad to say. You’re held accountable for what they say. That’s the world we live in right now, and you have to deal with it, it’s part of the process.”


On how much leeway quarterback Kirk Cousins has to change plays:

“Our quarterback has free reign to do that. He’s been a three-year starter so he gets in and out of things. There are certain things we call that are going to go, obviously. He’s got freedom out there. Part of being a good coach is being a good listener. So we want to try and listen to ideas he has as he moves forward too. When you have a great deal of respect and confidence in a young man you turn him loose.”

On Michigan State’s drought winning bowl games:

“I think that’s something we’ve experienced. We hadn’t talked about it as much. I talked about it a little bit yesterday just in terms of how you feel as a coach addressing your football team after a loss, when you’re looking at your seniors and it’s their last football game, they’re taking off that uniform for the last time. It’s more about how you feel after the game. It’s more about us all experiencing that and understanding what it’s going to take to rectify that situation. With that being said, I think we’ve played some outstanding football teams in that period of four years. You come to a game like this you’re going to play someone good, that’s just a fact.”

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