Dantonio: This is a two a day practice this Monday.
Hondo: Mark could you update us on Connor Kruse post scrimmage please?
Dantonio: Obviously he was injured a little bit, but I do not talk about the injuries if they are not season ending and it’s not season sending. He’ll be back, he’ll be O.K.
Q: Did you have any season enders the other day?
Dantonio: No we have not had any.
Q: Do you feel like he (Kruse) will be ready for the first game?
Dantonio: We don’t talk about injuries. I’m trying to be as vague as I can here.
Q: What will you do to fill that spot?
Dantonio: Move Donovan Clark inside for now and Kodi Kieler up to the right tackle spot. We’ve moved Brandon Clemons over (from DT) to guard as well. He worked the bowl game practices at guard and he has not lost anything. He will be a good player over there.
Q: How comfortable to you feel with Kieler jumping in as a starter now?
Dantonio: Very comfortable. I think Kodi Kieler is a guy that I thought had an outstanding spring. You could make a case for him being one of the top five. I think he has had a very very solid summer and he’s a very athletic big guy. He’s tough, a guy that knows what to do and he was going to play for us. As Coach Staten does, he’s been rotating guys in there and we expected him to play anyway.
Q: Is there any clarity on the wide receiver position?
Dantonio: The only thing we know is that we’ve got five, or six or seven guys playing. That’s all you know. Been impressed with Monty Madaris. He has had a very very solid summer camp. Guys continue to make plays. Do they block? Are they functional? Do they run the right route and how do they do in terms of catching the balls in traffic? Those guys are doing a great job. You can really shake them up and throw them out. They’ve all done an outstanding job. Obviously I think we have our six that are in there, but the other guys are very very functional. It’s going to be interesting how all of that shakes out a game time.
Q: You are less than two weeks until kickoff now. Are you in kickoff mode or is that more next week?
Dantonio: I think that starts next week. We’ll finish up on what we have to do here. We’ll start moving this week a little towards Jacksonville State as well. We’ll give our guys off the weekend. When they come back we will get focused in Sunday night more. I think you have to do certain things situationaly in camp, to cover all of the bases and we are still doing all of those things.
Q: Compared to your others has this been a good camp?
Dantonio: Yea, it has been a good camp. Solid camp. You never know until you get to game time. I really feel like that because you are going to hit adversity and you have to be able to handle it.
Hondo: What percentage of plays in Friday’s scrimmage did Jon Reschke get as the #1 MIKE linebacker?
Dantonio: I don’t have that percentage, but he got about 45 plays though. I’m not sure what the percentage was with the ones.
Q: Where is the competition right now at MIKE linebacker?
Dantonio: I thought Taiwan Jones had a good scrimmage, a solid scrimmage. He was productive. The biggest thing is he getting people lined up in there and taking control of the defense? And then is he playing fast after that. Is he getting off on the ball? I think he has made great strides from the spring, and even from the first scrimmage to the second scrimmage you have seen definite improvement. He had a winning performance in terms of how he played in the scrimmage, defense won the scrimmage and played much better. It was a very very close scrimmage.
Q: Is Reschke a legitimate threat for the #1 MIKE linebacker spot?
Dantonio: The way I always look at it is are guys functional? Can they go in there, can they take snaps and will they play? Will they play in the game? Jon Reschke will play in the game. Beyond that it depends on how he plays in the game. Does he become a one or does he stay a two right now? He’s gonna get reps in the game. That’s established. He’s good enough to do that. He’s functional, he makes plays and you notice him.
Q: Have Tyler O’Connor or Damion Terry separated themselves at all?
Dantonio: All THREE of our quarterbacks are having great camps. They are much much farther along than they were last year.
Q: Which freshman/newcomers would you expect to play in the opener?
Dantonio: Brian Allen (C) is in the two deep on the offensive line. I think Montae Nicholson is flirting with the two deep at safety. Chris Frey is a guy that might show up on special teams. Those are probably the three guys right now that you’re saying. I think Madre London may show up as well. The defensive line are going to play. Those guys are going to play. All three or four or two. Obviously we would like to hold a couple out and redshirt them. Miguel Machado (Junior College transfer OL) will play as well. A lot of guys.
Q: Who are the other two receivers. You have Aaron Burbridge, Keith Mumphery, Macgarrett Kings, Tony Lippett and…
Dantonio: DeAnthony Arnett is in there, I think A.J. Troup has had a very solid camp. Tres Barksdale continues to make plays. Matt Macksood is out there, he had a nice run after a catch. I said Monty Madaris, I’ve been very impressed with Monty, those are the guys I notice. That’s about ten guys. That’s a good situation. Just keep competing and good things are going to happen. R.J. Shelton is a guy in the top four or five. Solid. Fully a receiver. A.J. Sims is in that group too.
Q: Has Kodi Kieler continued to progress since the spring?
Dantonio: Yea. I think he has had a very solid camp. I think he is ready to play full time for us. He would have played even if Connor Kruse was right out there right now playing for us. We’ve been moving people around like Coach Staten likes to do, to get everybody a piece of things.
Hondo: Last year when the offense was struggling and people asked about your statistics you said, “The only statistic that matters is wins, and we are winning.” This year more than one of your offensive assistants has mentioned needing to improve stats. Does that concern you since you didn’t seem all that concerned last year?
Dantonio: I think the bottom line stat is how many points you score. They want productivity. Passing yards, rushing yards, lack of sacks, completion percentage that all leads to productivity. Red zone conversion stats. I think that is what they are looking at. I think we got that as the season progressed last year, I think what they are trying to do is they want to get out fast. Whether that happens or not, I think it will, but hey you never know. That is what they are hitting for. These things will create points on the board.
Q: Brandon Clemons going back to the offensive line is that a statement about what you are seeing from the freshman offensive lineman?
Dantonio: Yea. We’ve got depth over there with our freshman. I also think Brandon can go back there and play defense, he has three years under his belt. We can stick him in there and we can get plays from him. He graded winning (on the DL for the last scrimmage) and played 35 or 40 reps on defense. He’s got experience (on the OL) having played it in bowl practice, and he’s a guy our offense (Coaches) really liked at that position (OL) and they didn’t really want to lose him. When Marc Scarpinato made the decision to go to medical school we lost a (Defensive) tackle and had to keep him there.
Q: How did (DT) Joel Heath perform in the scrimmage and where is he on the depth chart?
Dantonio: He (Heath) is number one on the depth chart. I think LT (Lawrence Thomas) has had an outstanding summer camp. He’s a guy that looks like the real deal in there. Those are positive things and Joel has been very solid.
Q: You haven’t been asked since July about punters and kickers. That is usually a good thing. What can you tell us about them?
Dantonio: Both specialists are back. Mike Geiger has been extremely accurate. Mike Sadler is a preseason All American. He’s been solid. He’s coming back from a knee injury, but he’s fine. He’s all good. Snapper is in place. I think our holders are in place. Our returners are in place so I think we work extremely hard on our special teams aspect of our football team. Those specialists are all Big Ten performers. Kicking off for us remains a little bit to how this plays out. Kevin Cronin has been solid, Geiger’s been pretty good, but Cronin has been solid too. And Cronin has had a great camp kicking the ball too, field goals. Our return guys Macgarrett Kings, R.J. Shelton is back there, A.J. Sims is back there Nick Hill is back there. Basically we have three guys who have returned them in games before and I think R.J. has that explosive ability and he’s been very solid there. The fifth guy is probably Darian Hicks.
Q: You only mentioned three running backs in the scrimmage recap?
Dantonio: We held out Delton Williams and Jeremy Langford.
Hondo: At the start of camp Geiger said he was money from 55 in. What have you seen?
Dantonio: From 50 in he is money. He’s got the leg to get it there from 55, but he might have missed just two kicks in camp this far so he has been very very good. We always grade our guys on if he is winning, is he losing, because there is no average. Is he functional? Does he have a Big Ten championship grade? Michael Geiger has a Big Ten championship grade.
Q: Is Montae Nicholson out of it at cornerback now?
Dantonio: He could go back out there and play, but we’ve moved him in to safety. He is a big body guy, and he’s one of the more productive players actually in the scrimmage at safety. So we’ve moved him back in there because we had a couple of guys nicked up. I think that is his position and that is where he will stay. I think he can play any of those positions personally, but he’s got to be able to play in and out. He has to put plays behind each other. It’s easier to do at safety, maybe not from a knowledge standpoint but from a physical standpoint it’s easier to do at safety.
Hondo: Will you go live at all this week?
Dantonio: Yes. Just went this morning.
Q: Offensive line. Do you have enough to handle something like this?
Dantonio: Yes. Because we moved Brandon Clemons over there. We are in good shape and you know James Kittredge started at C as a freshman at Vanderbilt. That’s always a possibility that we could extend and go one more moving him over because of his experience on the offensive line.
Q: Do you see Brandon Clemons like you did Micajah Reynolds in that he can go both offense and defense?
Dantonio: I really do. Brandon is a very smart football player, extremely long arms and he’s athletic. He can run. You take a guy that can run a 4.9 now (in a 40 yard dash) that is 290 pounds, on the offensive line. He knows what to do, they guy is a good football player. He spent two weeks in bowl practice working on the offensive line. There is retention there. We’ve got time. We’ve not lost Connor Kruse for the season. Whether he makes the Oregon game or not, I’m not sure, but we’ve not lost him for the season. He’ll be back. Sooner than later.
Q: How has RB Gerald Holmes performed?
Dantonio: Gerald has been very solid. All of those running backs have been solid. We held out of the scrimmage Delton and Langford really because we wanted to see what the other three would do. Played Nick Hill a little bit, but we really wanted to see what our younger guys could do. He plays hard. There is just a big transition going from your freshman year to your redshirt freshman year or even coming in as a new freshman so you’ve got to see what they got.