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News, Notes and Thoughts from Spartan Football POST Notre Dame Edition


Mark Dantonio was all smiles after his win over the Irish in which he CLEARLY out coached Brian Kelly.  Photo courtesy of Bill Marklevits.

Mark Dantonio was all smiles after his win over the Irish in which he CLEARLY out coached Brian Kelly. Photo courtesy of Bill Marklevits.

Brian Kelly asked Mark Dantonio when they met at midfield after the Spartans win according to Dantonio, “Did you make the call?” Yes, he did. Why would you ask that?


Mark Dantonio said about the famous “Little Giants” play, “This is a game and players like that.”


Dantonio on making the call, “I wanted the pressure on me…if it hadn’t worked people would second guess me.” I have one thing to say about the call: Brass Balls!


I had said until I was tired of hearing it that MSU had been vanilla and generic this season prior to the ND game. Glad they were. Anyone watching saw proof of that against the Irish.


Although his team didn’t cooperate, I was glad to see Dantonio calling the time out late in the second quarter trying to conserve time for a drive. We talked about that prior to the season.


Give Kelly credit. I wish the Spartans would take a hint from him on one play. When the Irish had a 3rd and 14 at their own 28 in the 2nd quarter with just over ten minutes to play, they got 15. I hate plays where players aren’t aware of the sticks. On a 3rd and eight seven yards is of no value.


Kirk Cousins is healthy, I asked him. He isn’t himself. Meaning the QB he was to end last year is not what we are seeing now. He is trying to do too much. For example facing a 3rd and 18 at his own three I was stunned that Dantonio took the risk and let him go for it. He telegraphed his pass and frankly, it should have been an Irish interception. I was glad they took the risk, but not thrilled with the stare down.


When MSU was facing a 3rd and one at the Notre Dame 45, Cousins tried to sneak the ball and was HAMMERED. I mean drilled. That is exactly why THERE IS NO EXCUSE that Andrew Maxwell has not gotten more significant reps. Period. No excuse and the blame rests on Dantonio for that. There needs to be a series set aside EVERY game for the backup, just like Dantonio did for Cousins at the Capital One Bowl.

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Frankly, it would be unfair to ask Maxwell to compete at a high level without reps. This is the biggest mistake Dantonio has made this year. Cousins has made some poor choices by taking some sacks and with his pass selection at times. I have complete faith in him, but it is perplexing and he has to fix it. Again, I reiterate that I think he is pressing and trying too hard. It isn’t a lack of talent. 


Under one minute to go in the 2nd quarter and Charlie Gantt and Keith Nichol get back-to-back false starts. Those two young men are better than that, and frankly, the unforced penalties WILL cost MSU a win this season if they aren’t fixed immediately. The Spartans had 11 penalties.


The Spartans defense was in the right positions. That says that Narduzzi had the right calls. The Spartans have to make the tackle. This game wouldn’t have gone to overtime if the tackling was better at times.


I think a lot of people are forgetting that the Spartans had their best pass-defending linebacker ready to take on Rudolph all night. If Eric Gordon was in the game, Rudolph never would have had eight catches for 80 yards.

Notre Dame threw 55 times and the Spartans get one sack and one interception? Really? Our pass defense was very generic and vanilla the first two games, and frankly, when they added color and spice against Notre Dame they weren’t terrible, but not great. I would grade them as average. You also have to take into account that the Irish have four NFL WR/TE and they deserve some credit. I also think you need to remember that the Spartans shut down the Irish running attack and forced them to be one-dimensional.


The Spartans’ lack of exploitation of the TE really concerns me. That is one of their strengths and it is not being exploited. As long as they win you can justify it, but I plan on asking this week about the lack of usage.


Aaron Bates, Kevin Muma, Dan Conroy and Alex Shackleton had amazing games…simply amazing games.


Three games in as a team I give the Spartans a solid B. I don’t like the passing yards, but I liked MOST of the schemes against the Irish and how this group is playing tough.


I understand schematically playing off of WRs and giving cushion, but playing up on guys certainly has its merits and I would like to see more of it.