While Mark Dantonio Needs Offensive Coaching To Improve, Sky Not Falling For Spartan Football
This may shock you, but the sky is not falling and Spartan Football still has at least eight games left and a chance to do a lot. Yes, I wrote at length how the offensive coaching leadership on this team has been terrible. Play calling, personnel, and game planning on the offensive side have been poor, but that is all coaching. The truth remains that I believe in Mark Dantonio and while his offensive staff must improve, MSU does have to tools to do it.
Let’s face it; Michigan State for the second year in a row has an elite defense…this year even better than last. As long as MSU has the talent and coaching at such an elite level on that side of the ball good things, really good things still lay ahead.
ESPN Gameday host Chris Fowler said that if MSU offense could “Be average, not even good” that they would have won 11 games last year and could be great this year. Again I agree, BUT I have one caveat.
I think MSU has tools on offense. I don’t think that the offensive side of the ball for the Spartans is depleted of talent. There are very good players, wanted by multiple good schools all over the roster.
The depressing part of the Notre Dame game was how the Spartans offensive line owned the line of scrimmage. Nick Hill and Jeremy Langford ran well; Langford really well. Inexplicitly, the Spartans offensive coaching leadership went away from their dominance and thus the chance to win the game.
I think Connor Cook, for his first road game, against a good defense and in that environment while not playing like Joe Montana, he did play well enough to win and I think still possess a monster upside. Does he have to play better? Of course he does, but he knows it and the Spartans didn’t lose on Saturday because of him.
The WR group was not great at Notre Dame, but when you saw when MSU utilized the run, the passing game improved. The sky is not falling.
MSU will go to Iowa City and they will win. Yes, I said it.
The panic in Spartan Nation is NOT because this team is bound for a Detroit Bowl game. It is because they have the opportunity to get to Pasadena and the offensive coaching performance stands in the way. There are many things to be excited about if you are a Spartan.
Dantonio said it best, “We need to continue to keep things in perspective. We’re a 3‑1 football team. We have an opportunity to sit this week and regroup.” I agree with him. With only one loss, this team has many things to be encouraged about.
He also said, “There were some good things to build on, playing in a tough environment, away‑game environment, with a lot of crowd noise, et cetera, is something we have to be able to handle as we go into this next part of our season, which is the Big Ten season.” Again, I agree with him.
He has to fix the deficiencies in his offensive coaching leadership, but this still is a Spartan team with the chance for double digit wins. People are in panic mode, because they do not want to see a chance for something great being derailed by adults making six digits of yearly income.
Dantonio has not forgotten how to lead. He has publicly admitted how much time he is spending with the offense. He doesn’t have to worry about the D. Essentially in Narduzzi, he has Dantonio 2.0 like Jim Tressel did with him. If I trust anyone to fix this, it is Dantonio.
I have said many times that Mark Dantonio is a friend. I not only like him personally, but I also respect him professionally. He said this, “At the same time, you know, we’re coaching. We’re coaching for the next play. Right, wrong or indifferent, we’re doing the very best we can do to have success for our football team. That’s the decision we made.”
This week Dantonio has looked at everything with a fine tooth comb. If you think he has his feet up on his desk watching soap operas and eating bonbons during this bye week you are fool. As the Spartans get back to practicing today, there will be a coach with answers. He will lead. He hasn’t brought Spartan football this far to fail.
Dantonio didn’t want to publicly talk about any changes this week. Can you blame him? Why would he? He did say, “We’ve got continue to try to push our running game forward. I think we’re getting pretty good play from our offensive line in the runningback situation.” Does that tell you anything?
Dantonio is a competitive man. You don’t climb the ranks to get to this level being a failure. You don’t own a national championship ring as a DC because you stink. He said on Saturday, “In the end we’ll find our way through all this. I’m looking forward to playing Iowa in a couple weeks.”
If MSU had not played three cupcakes to start the season they would be 0-4. The offensive inefficiency has been clear. The good news is that Dantonio is not a new coach who inherited an anemic roster like he had in 2007 when he arrived. This is seven years later. This is 2013 and he has talent; guys he wanted, guys he recruited, and guys who others felt the same.
Dantonio has a great defense and a great punter. Two weapons that can help greatly with an offense that you don’t need to win a game for you, just not lose one like Saturday. His offensive coaching staff must improve. The good news is that they have the players to improve, the sky is not falling, and they have plenty of time to get this in order.
Don’t count Dantonio and the Spartans out of it. I won’t and neither should you. Six straight bowl games later, two bowl game wins in a row, he has a track record of fixing things and I expect him to do so this year.
The sun is still coming up in the morning, the defense is elite, your punter is solid, your offensive line and running backs can pound green pound, your young QB still has talent, and your wideouts don’t need to be great. Like Fowler said the Spartans need to get to average. That is a low goal, but they need to just get there.
Call me a fool, you wouldn’t be the first. I think they can get to better than average. The offensive leadership has a boss and the name on the door still says Dantonio. I have confidence in him. So should you. His track record tells you that betting against him is not smart.