Hondo: You have had a lot of players who matured over their time with you as people, but have you ever been more proud of the young man a player has become than Kurtis Drummond?
Dantonio: We’ve had a lot of players go through here experience exactly the same thing and Kurtis is just another one of those guys. I think his teammates recognize that fact. He’s been a leader on the field for us and he’s been a very very solid guy. Sort of unwavering. Whether something bad on the field or an injury or whatever the case he has just been able to maintain his composure. I think that shows. He’s just a very mature guy and now he has the opportunity to lead our team.
Q: What do you like most about the three captains your team chose?
Dantonio: They are good people. Good solid people. We’ve got twelve guys that sort of lead and we had to pick the three out of the twelve and these are the three they picked. I think any of those guys would have been good. All of these guys play on the field a lot; they are all guys that have had success on the field, great success on the field. I think there is power in that. Because when they go everybody should go. The key to this when is when we hit some adversity how we handle it. What’s going to happen then and that will be the key. I think these guys will do an outstanding job.
Q: It seems like with these guys, especially with Shilique Calhoun and Travis Jackson that these are more funny guys?
Dantonio: Yes these are some funny guys. Kurtis Drummond is too. So am I. They like to have fun and I think they keep our players loose. You’ve got to stay fresh in this game. It can grind you down a little bit. Hitting every day, doing what we do. It’s a long day. You got to stay fresh and those guys provide a lot of that.
Hondo: When your three captains are three of your best players and best people as humans can that get any better for a head coach?
Dantonio: I hope our football team picks guys for the right reasons and we set it up to continually talk like that. We sort of pick our twelve guys (Eagles Council) over the course of the entire year or the course of summer camp. We pick two at a time. They have a chance to pick and reflect that guys that are not just good football players, but guys that are trying to do the right thing off of the field as well. Guys that are leading on the field too, and these guys are just a great example of that.
Q: What does the process in which you pick captains reveal about each guy?
Dantonio: All three of these guys played as red shirt freshman. They didn’t play as true freshman; they played as red shirt freshman. They were guys that were on the scout team, they paid their dues, they got stronger, they acquired more football knowledge and they played themselves into starting positions on the field. They’ve done it that hard way. Nothing has been giving to them. They’ve come up through in that respect and I think people appreciate that and respect that.
Q: What is the dynamic of picking a captain from a lot of players that are leaders?
Dantonio: Every year I ask how many of our guys have been captains of their high school football team? I would say probably 85% of our guys have been captains. So to be picked from your peers is powerful. It makes a statement to their ability to lead.
Q: How important is this weekend off for the players?
Dantonio: I think it is very important. Hopefully they are able to go home to see their high school football games. We don’t really want them around here. Get off, get their legs back. You got to run in this game. Day in and day I won’t I think we have taken not even really two afternoons off. They’ve had three weeks of this. They need a chance to refresh themselves.
Q: Shilique said he didn’t want to be a captain in high school. What does that say about him and his growth since he arrived at Michigan State?
Dantonio: Yeah that is surprising. We picked the right guy. People grow at different times of their life I think. I promise you if you went back to me at high school and said I was going to be the head coach of Michigan State a lot of people would have said no way. So, people grow.
Q: The quarterback position is inherently one of leadership and Connor Cook is not one of the captains or the council. Where is he at in his leadership?
Dantonio: A lot of guys float in and out of that twelve and that is the key thing. He was on it, then he, you sort of float. I think he’s done a very good job. He’s leading on the field, off the field it just takes a little more time. He’s a younger player, just like Shilique. The other guys are older, they are seniors. We have three underclassmen of the twelve so it’s a pretty heavy senior group. So that is not anything to be concerned about. He leads just by the nature of his position on the field. All three of our quarterbacks, all three of those guys are good leaders. Connor is going to do a great job, he does a great job on the field.
Q: After this final scrimmage are there any position groups still up in the air as far as the two deep?
Dantonio: After the scrimmage today it is hot and humid and a little sluggish. I read that I don’t answer any question so I am doing pretty good at that at least. I think there are always opportunities for people. Are they ones, are they twos or are they ones and a halves? The one and a halves are going to play. Just by the nature of offenses with no huddles and by the nature of how many people we play offensively. So we are going to try and get our football team ready so that we have ones, but that we have depth behind them. To do that you have to play your guys and put them in position that they have to succeed as a starter. We’ve done that with a number of players, it’s always been a positive.
Hondo: If I had told you at the beginning of camp that you would be where you are right now as a team would you have been happy? Would you have taken that?
Dantonio: I’m always looking for more. Really I am. I am always looking for a little bit more. I think all of our coaches do that. We look for guys that aren’t making mental mistakes, we look for a little more effort, we look for a little more control when you are playing out of control. You look for a little more focus. I think that is just the nature of what we do. You can always get better. We are not there yet. We are looking forward to next week and improving next week and having an opportunity to play in game day.
Q: Do you take a step back or is that players only?
Dantonio: We take a step back. Have to stay fresh. You’re never too far away from anything with your I Pad and film and all of those different things. We can take a step back for a couple hours.
Q: Has this weather allowed you to go a little harder with them?
Dantonio: The weather has been good for this.
Q: Is scrimmaging at the end of camp something you have always done?
Dantonio: We’ve always had a rehearsal scrimmage and gone a bit live. But not to many plays. 44 plays. 24 with the ones and 20 with the twos. So not that long. We tried to do a lot of kicking things. Substitution things. Sort of trying to play a game as if it is a game. Last year things we unsettled at tailback, wide receiver, tight end, quarterbacks so we had to let things scrimmage out to continue to make evaluations.
Q: What did you think when you heard of Braxton Miller’s injury?
Dantonio: I felt bad. Braxton Miller is a great football player. He was a senior. Meant a lot to their football team, he’s a great leader and he’s a great young man. You don’t want to see people get hurt. It’s too bad. It tough. Tough deal, but I will say this; we played without Max Bullough in the Rose Bowl. So usually when those things happen people rise up around them and everybody becomes a little bit better. What becomes a negative becomes a strength later on.
Hondo: When I asked you at the start of camp who was your kicker (kick offs) you said you could answer that when camp was over so who is your kicker?
Dantonio: Kevin Cronin right now. He’s done a nice job. Getting a lot of height on it and I think Michael Geiger is doing a pretty nice job as well. We will see how they kick in pre-game.
Q: How about Taiwan Jones. Are you ready to name him your starter at MIKE?
Dantonio: Yeah, Taiwan is the opening day starter at MIKE.
Q: What about the number two running back. Did anyone separate themselves there?
Dantonio: I think Nick Hill has had a nice summer camp, but I think those other three are guys you might see. The only question is do you see Madre London because you don’t want to run him one or two plays. I think he is going to be a great running back, but you don’t want to take the redshirt off of him and have him not get work. He’s in the mix too. They are good football players. We are going to lose two of them. Two of them are seniors, but those guys are good football players.
Q: Backup QB battle still on going?
Dantonio: Again I feel these things that have become weaknesses have become strengths. I think Tyler O’Connor has had a great camp. Damion Terry has had an excellent camp as well. He’s been cleared to go live. We are right on task there.
Hondo: Have you made a decision yet on the freshman defensive tackles yet as to who is playing this year?
Dantonio: Not totally, but they are going to play. Malik McDowell is a guy that will probably play. You look at Craig Evans who is another guy. Then maybe Enoch Smith and David Beedle. All four of those guys are good football players. So we just have to see how that plays out. We just have to see how that plays out with the health issues, but those guys are in the mix. They’ve played with the ones, and they have certainly played with the twos. All of them.
Q: Is Kodi Kieler still in the starting group?
Dantonio: Yes. Kodi is still in there.
Q: How about Darian Hicks. Is he still in there at corner? Did he lock it up?
Dantonio: Darian Hicks is the starting corner, yeah.
Q: Are there any first team ORs we are going to see on the first team depth chart?
Dantonio: I think tight end is ORs we’ve got a lot of guys there. I think wide receiver is ORs there. That is a new term for me. Those guys have played a lot of football for us, so whoever they want to play, just catch the football and move it. They are functional in terms of knowing what is going on, they have all played in games and they have all made big plays. That’s a positive. I think our running back situation Jeremy Langford is the clear number one but I think we have depth at that position right now.
Hondo: Today in the scrimmage do you have any idea how many reps Malik McDowell got?
Dantonio: No, not at this time. Probably 20.