Mark Dantonio Updates Spartan Nation On Spring Football Halfway Through
Mark Dantonio: Weâ€™re going into the seventh practice. First opportunity that I think weâ€™ll have to go outside the entire day, so thatâ€™ll be good for us be able to spread out a little bit. Had a good scrimmage on Saturday, or I guess Friday, some outstanding performances. I thought DeAnthony Arnett really took a step forward. Cook looked really, really wellâ€¦played very well. Had some big plays out there by both sides of the ball, so weâ€™re progressing.
Q: Has there been any significant move on the depth chart and can you tell us who?
DANTONIO: Thatâ€™s a big question. I would say guys are moving up and down a little bit, Hondo. I think Reschke had a good scrimmage. Right now heâ€™s never 1 at mike linebacker. Taiwan Jones made practice today, but Reschke was the guy that stepped in for him in the scrimmage. That was a positive. I thought he played fast. He played fast and with a lot of energy and it was good to see. Some guys that you donâ€™t always hear about all the time, like Kodi Kieler. I thought he had a big scrimmage and was impressed with the physicality of our offensive line. And then again, I continue to be impressed with some of our skill players.
Q: What is DeAnthony showing you that youâ€™ve wanted to see from him?
DANTONIO: I think the biggest thing heâ€™s showing is heâ€™s catching the ball very consistently, but the toughness factor is very apparent to me. The tougher you are, the harder you play, the better things usually shake out for you. So Iâ€™ve been impressed with him.
Q: Are you saying that Arnett is one of the players moving up the depth chart?
DANTONIO: Yeah, heâ€™s moving up. Heâ€™s playing with the 1â€™s and that type of thing, rotating in there.
Q: Last year there were a lot of question marks with the offense. What are your expectations for this group?
DANTONIO: Well, hopefully we continue to get better. I thought we hit full stride last year, probably in November, and didnâ€™t really look back. I think we can build on those things. Langfordâ€™s been good. Nick Hill had a big run on Friday as well. I just see our guys playing physical up front. Jamal Lyles is playing very well at tight end. I think heâ€™s taking a big step forward. He transitioned last yearâ€¦really after fall camp was over we moved him over to the tight end position. He kinda had to learn how to run with it so I think heâ€™s had a positive spring this far. So good things are happening.
Q: Anybody else in the mix at the mike there?
DANTONIO: Shane Jones is a guy that we expect to be a good player for us. Tawain, Darien Harris can move in there as well. Weâ€™ve got a number of players that can play in there. Riley can probably go in there a little bit. But heâ€™s transitioning back to linebacker. That takes a little time too, you just donâ€™t flip over and change.
Q: So Reschkeâ€™s #1 sort of, because of Jones being a little banged up?
DANTONIO: Yeah, probably right now.
Q: How about the defensive tackles?
DANTONIO: I think Knox and Joel Heathâ€¦ I thought Brandon Clemons played well this past weekend. Kittredge is a guy in there, heâ€™s sorta gotta playâ€¦heâ€™s gotta play with better technique in there. Heâ€™s gonna play extremely hard. So those four guys are the guys in there. And then weâ€™ve got good people coming. I think our defensive line and the recruiting in our defensive line position I think is gonna pay dividends.
Q: Have you missed the starting quarterback questions?
DANTONIO: Well, you knowâ€¦ I thought Connor Cook played extremely well on Friday. I was impressed with Tyler Oâ€™Connor, he did some good things. Damion Terryâ€™s coming and heâ€™s a talent. I think that situation is pretty strong right now. But we could use another one out there.
Q: Is this the first time in a while that you can remember that you come into one of these first scrimmages and the defense is kind ofâ€¦I donâ€™t wanna say behindâ€¦but normally it seems like the defense is in good shape?
DANTONIO: Well, you know we were going into our sixth practice when we had the scrimmage. Our defense made a lot of plays too and continued to be strong in the secondary and skilled position. But I thought our offenseâ€¦ They both did good things. Itâ€™s tough when youâ€™re sitting there and youâ€™re not rooting for either side, youâ€™re just trying to make it all work, make it competitive. And it was. But defense made some plays too. We had some sacks Calhoun looked strong.
Q: Now that you have a starting quarterback established in this point of the season, is there any differences that youâ€™ve noticed from last season knowing that that role is now there?
DANTONIO: I think thereâ€™s confidence in our receivers and confidence in our offense overall. When you have a guy thatâ€™s sort of solidified in that position, not that it wasnâ€™t last year at this time, but there were some questions. It makes it easier for everybody else to transition.
Q: Coach Izzo was talking about your relationship with him and itâ€™s made his job a lot more fun and better when you guys share. Do you recall some of the things you shared with Tom during, before and after the Tournament?
DANTONIO: I just think we can identify with each other because we go through struggles together. WE go through certain struggles as a coach at this level. Itâ€™s a people business. Thereâ€™s always people that you deal with and always people thatâ€¦ Whether itâ€™s players, supporters, whatever it is. I just think the relationship was strong when I came here and itâ€™s just been strengthening. Iâ€™ve said many, many times I look across Munn Field and that basketball arena sits right there. They get it done and they get it done right. Heâ€™s been extremely supportive through the entire process for us.
Q: What sticks out on the OL
DANTONIO: I think the guy that can play almost any position out there is Connor Kruse. He can play left, right, tackle, guard. The other guy I think is Donavon that can play in there, Bodanis. Weâ€™ve suffered an injury with Zach Higgins this past Friday. We lost him probably for the season .So heâ€™s out and Bodanis will move to guard. I think James Bodanis is a guy thatâ€™s got a lot of talent. Heâ€™s just young on offensive line play. But heâ€™s got a lot of talent, heâ€™s a big athletic guy, and so itâ€™s gonna be exciting to watch him.
Q: Anyone really grasping that #2 spot at running back?
DANTONIO: I thought Nick Hillâ€™s had a good spring thus far. Delton Williams is out. He had a great fall camp in the fall. But Gerald Holmes has done some really nice things. Heâ€™s very athletic and heâ€™s big.
Q: Is that a big opportunity for him with Delton out?
DANTONIO: Yeah, he missed the scrimmage. He was nicked up and missed the scrimmage soâ€¦
Q: Delton or Gerald?
DANTONIO: Both. We held out Gerald as well. So itâ€™ll be interesting to see them move.
Q: Any new wrinkles to the offense?
Q: How much have you put in so far? How far along are you?
DANTONIO: You know, six practices in. Six in. Weâ€™ll get our base stuff in, but thereâ€™s always little nuances that I think we try and add and hopefully get better.
Q: Oâ€™Connor distancing himself from Damion or separating the gap there?
DANTONIO: I think that Connor Cook is our #1 quarterback, without question.
Q: Tyler Oâ€™Connor, Iâ€™m sorry.
DANTONIO: Oh, Tyler Oâ€™Connor. Tyler had a good day as well, I canâ€™t remember his stats, but I thought he was sharp, did some good things out there. I think the 2â€™s scored 12 points or whatever, I donâ€™t know. I thought Damion Terry did some good things as well, but heâ€™s young. Heâ€™s a true freshman. But heâ€™s extremely talented.
Q: Is AJ Troup back with the receivers?
DANTONIO: Heâ€™s not practicing yet, heâ€™ll be backâ€¦ He wonâ€™t go through spring practice but heâ€™ll be back in the fall. Hopefully heâ€™ll be back in the fall.
Q: How does that hot corner look? We know Darian Hicks started on top there. Is anybody else making a push?
DANTONIO: Darian is #1 corner. I think RJ and Calhoun has had a good spring. I think Ezra Robinson and Jermaine Edmondson are two guys with talent. Theyâ€™re just young.
Q: RJ still ahead of Demetrius?
DANTONIO: About right there, both together. But Iâ€™d say heâ€™s the guy right now. I think Jalyn Powellâ€™s doing good things as well. Jalyn Powellâ€™s a little bit like Isaiah Lewis. You gotta factor that aspect in.
Q: Last spring you didnâ€™t get to come out here hardly at all. You lamented a couple times how it limited you in special teams. Are you able to do a little bit more with special teams this year?
DANTONIO: Well, this is our first day out here today for the full day. So weâ€™ve got eight practices left I guess after today. Weâ€™ll get a lot of them out here and weâ€™ll be able to work a lot on special teams.
Q: Can you tell us what the injury is for Higgins?
DANTONIO: We lost him to an ACL.
Q: In the scrimmage?
DANTONIO: Yeah. Just playing and they cut him.
Q: Is there concern with so many guys injured, nicked up or out?
DANTONIO: Yeah, we got numbers. We should be alright. We should be alright. So weâ€™ll see.