Mark Dantonio Updates the Spartan Nation on The Spartans Progress this Spring
Mark Dantonio: Three really significant practices left. We’ve got one more shorts and then the spring game. We’re sort of rounding the turn, so every one of these practices are big. I’m trying to get something done on them. Scrimmage on Saturday came down to the last play of the scrimmage, really. Connor Cook put (?) on DeAnthony in a 2 minute situation and Nick Hill had to score for a touchdown. I thought we saw a lot of good things. Consistency continues to be an issue, because when you’re looking at both sides of the ball I think you’re always looking for who’s gonna win it, so… I’ll take some questions.
Q: The one to DeAnthony, was that the long one down the left sideline?
Q: Who have you been most pleasantly surprised with this spring?
DANTONIO: I really think DeAnthony Arnett. That guy’s caught the ball very well, he’s making good runs after catches, he’s playing aggressively. And he’s a guy that needed to do those things, he needed to show more consistency. I also think RJ Shelton’s moved forward. There’s a lot of guys that have moved forward, but RJ’s a guy that makes plays out there every scrimmage and every practice. Some of our other good players remain good players, but I think those two guys have shown that they’ve come a little farther than they were in the fall.
Q: In scrimmages, how much do you put guys in situations were you want to see them versus rather just actually playing it out?
DANTONIO: We actually played it out. It just so happens that every time we play it out it gets close. I could sorta say I rig it, but I don’t really think that I do. It just sorta seems to happen like that. Really, the defense was ahead of the offense. Riley Bullough had a pick for touchdown. Kurtis Drummond had a real nice interception. So that put them up to 37 points and it just sorta happened the way it did. We had a couple big plays by our offense and they got back into it.
Q: What are you seeing from Riley?
DANTONIO: Riley’s moved back to defense. He’s working at the strong side linebacker rather than the middle linebacker, which is where he was working when he was a linebacker. He missed all of camp last year, so there’s a transition. But he plays extremely hard, he makes plays. He’s a young player, so consistency is the issue. You see a lot of different things…formations, adjustments, those types of things. Obviously, when you put together a different defense things start to add up, so you’ve gotta be able to play things out.
Q: Who’s gonna compete with Ed for that spot when he comes back in the fall?
DANTONIO: Oh yeah, Ed will come in to the fall as our #1 backer at that position. He’s active, he’s got a lot of the physical abilities like Denicos Allen had. He really runs well, he does those types of things. So he’ll come in #1, at least that’s in my mind right now…in our minds right now. As far as the other linebacker position, it really sort of remains to be seen. We can move Taiwan out there, we can move Darien out there, we can play with those three where somebody can unseat them. We’ve got good young players, but they’re young. So every rep is important for them.
Q: Did Darian Hicks hold his spot at the corner? I know you said he was a little nicked up. Did he even go?
DANTONIO: He did not go. He did not go. So yeah, he’s still #1 at the corner because he’s not gonna lose it based on injury. But he did not go.
Q: Are there are any depth chart changes on either side of the ball?
DANTONIO: That could be pretty deep.
Q: In the 2 deep?
DANTONIO: In the 2 deep… We’ve got a lot of wideouts who I would consider to have the ability to play in the 2 deep right now because guys are nicked up. But at the corner position, Justin Williams worked at the #2 corner. But we’ve got some corners out. We’ve got guys with hamstrings or whatever, so we’ve got some different guys doing different things. The 2 deep sorta remains constant, I would say. 1’s one day and 2’s another.
Q: Where does Kieler stand?
DANTONIO: I think Kodi’s is #2. Connor Kruse has had a good spring. He’s a senior, he can play a variety of positions. Kodi Kieler’s had a great spring. I think he’s a guy that is solid in that 6th position…could play either guard or tackle, or could move somebody else to guard or tackle. I think he can play any place on the right wide of the ball and the other guys can go to the left side if they can.
Q: Who are you looking at as your return guys? I know it’s still early, but you still have guys back there catching punts…
DANTONIO: RJ Shelton, we’re looking at him back there. Nick Hill. Macgarrett Kings right now is out, you guys probably know that, but he’s out. But we’ll see how he shakes out in the fall.
Q: Is Kings out the rest of the spring?
DANTONIO: Kings out the rest of the spring. Yeah. I figured you guys knew that.
Q: We can’t write what we see. You have to tell us.
DANTONIO: That’s a good rule. We’ll leave it like that then.
Q: Would you assume right now that the starting five is pretty solid on the offensive line?
DANTONIO: Offensive line? I would say it’s solid, with the exception that Kodi is one of those guys… He can push, because he’s got great athletic ability in his size and speed for the position.
Q: So either a Donavon or a Kruse he could push?
DANTONIO: He can push. He can push those guys.
Q: Dave has talked about maybe not using Jeremy quite as much, and he’s talked about the #2… Would Holmes and Hill be the guys getting carries if you started the season tomorrow?
DANTONIO: I think Delton Williams is in there, but he’s out right now because he had shoulder surgery at the end of the season. But he’s in there. I think he did enough last year as a true freshman to warrant that. I also think Nick Hill’s having a great spring and Gerald Holmes is a talent. We’ve got a couple of freshmen coming in as well. It’s gonna be competitive there. It should be because that’s the tailback position and we’re gonna give the ball to our tailbacks. I think Langford’s had a great spring. He’s heavier, he’s a little heavier, he’s still extremely explosive. I think he’s got a lot of good things going.
Q: Did Damion Terry have a better spring?
DANTONIO: Yeah, I thought he was better. I do think he was better.
Q: Macgarrett Kings, has he been out the whole spring or did he get hurt…
DANTONIO: He’s been out the whole spring.
Q: From an injury?
Q: You’ve had a lot of recruits around this spring. Can you talk about the momentum off the Rose Bowl and a lot of guys being around?
DANTONIO: Yeah, we’ve got a lot of momentum here. The Rose Bowl obviously has supplied that, along with the Big 10 Championship. I think it’s also important that we step back and try to reaffirm ourselves…I’ve said that over and over. And I think our football team is trying to do that. We need to that on a consistent basis. We can’t feel that entitlement. We’ve gotta have confidence, but it’s a fine line. A very fine line. So we’ve gotta work hard and keep pushing it. But I think people are interested in what we’re doing here and we’ve had a lot of people visit…a lot of very good players visit.
Q: Can you tell us why Kings has been out?
DANTONIO: Team rules.
Q: We haven’t heard anything about Sadler so we always just assume he’s doing well?
DANTONIO: Mike has had a season ending surgery, so he’s out for the spring. He has not punted this spring. Tyler O’Connor’s been punting, as well as Geiger. Both of those show ability. Mike will be back, we’re just holding him through the spring based on the surgery he had on his arm.
Q: How would you compare Terry and O’Connor? Are there some little differences or nuances in what they bring to the table?
DANTONIO: Yeah, there’s differences in what they bring to the table. They each bring a little bit of something different, but the main thing they have to be able to do is both of them have to play more consistently. Both have got the ability to make plays. We’ve seen good things from them. I think that was indicated… You saw good things from both of them on Saturday. But consistency’s always gonna be the issue with young quarterbacks because they need to see things over and over and over. As I said earlier, a lot of things start to add up relative to coverages and concepts that they have to adjust to.
Q: Have you watched any spring games? Are you still confident you can get 50,000 out there?
DANTONIO: I guess we have to ask the Spartan fans…are we confident or not?