After Watching the Film Michigan State Head Football Coach Mark Dantonio Gives the Spartan Nation His Latest Analysis of the first game & looks ahead to Oregon!
Dantonio: Today is a work day for our players we gave them yesterday off. We came out with a fast start obviously on Friday night. Tried to make a statement in terms of ready to play our first football game. Obviously there are always some things you need to clean up. For the most part pleased with lack of penalties only two. Turnovers: zero on offense and got three on defense plus a fourth down stop. It gave us a chance to experience the no huddle for the first time this season. Played a lot of players. Played OVER 70 players. That was a positive and had zero sacks. Took possession from them. Had 38 minutes of possession. Had a quick start and pretty solid on special teams.
Question: I was wondering if you could tell us anything with Travis Jackson, Macgarrett Kings, and Connor Cook? How are those guys feeling?
Dantonio: Nope I can’t tell you a think about those guys?
Hondo: We know what you are pleased with from the game, but what did you come away concerned with?
Dantonio: You are always concerned when you play a no huddle offense that sooner or later you and you see that guys run out of gas. You see that on the film. That as much as anything would be concerning. That leads to missed tackles and guys getting on top of you or in the deep part of coverage. Getting knocked off the ball. From a defensive perspective you continually have to address the conditioning factor, but this was our first game in that aspect. We’ve played against this offense before. You get better as you do it more often, but this was our first real test there. From an offensive perspective I think we threw the ball very very well in the first half. In the second half we used two different quarterbacks. Tyler O’Connor in the third and Damion Terry in the fourth with a lot of different players that played with them. I guess you have to look at that and say I wish we had scored a little more in the second half and controlled the line of scrimmage a little bit better. We ran the ball O.K. but not quite like I thought we would, but credit Jacksonville State as well. I think they do have a good football team, they hustle around and they make it difficult. The score may not be indicative of how good they are because they gave up some big plays.
Question: How much of your Jacksonville State prep will help prepare for Oregon?
Dantonio: I think you can take some of the aspects of what they do that are similar to Oregon. Certainly playing a fast up tempo offense and they are going as fast as they can. They were going around 12 or 13 or 14 seconds as well. So you get that experience of it and that is the conditioning factor as much as anything that I talked about earlier. As we take the next look, at the next game Oregon is very talented.
Question: Did you watch the Oregon game?
Dantonio: I watched it last night at home because I have cable.
Question: With all of the attention on this game are you relieved to finally be able to focus on it now?
Dantonio: I will talk more about them on Tuesday, but from OUR aspect right now this is an opportunity game. This is an opportunity early in the season to see where we are number one as a program. To go play a very good away team, away, which is always going to give you another experience. We’ve got to travel a long ways to do it. Play in a hostile environment which we are going to have to do later on. We are going to get those aspects as well. We are going to use this game to get ready for the rest of the season just like we normally would. Win or lose we have to understand we still have a lot of games ahead of us and that is every bit as important as this one single game.
Question: Supposed to be low 90’s this weekend so how do you prepare for that and will you go out early? (Normally the team travels on Friday before an away game)
Dantonio: We will go out on Thursday, and you can prepare to some extent, but I think it is more humid out here than back that way. But heat is heat and we will do our best.
Hondo: Could you talk about Gerald Holmes please. He seemed to run well and stay behind his pads?
Dantonio: Gerald did a nice job in there in the fourth quarter. He got the ball north and south put his foot in the ground and played with power. That was good to see. When you do those type of things more opportunities are around the corner for you. BUT, you’d still like to see him show up in special teams which he is not yet. He’s got to become a complete football player. I would say the same about some of our other guys. They are young, they are redshirt freshman or true freshman and this was their first opportunity to really play. We more experiences of playing I think they are going to be even more acclimated to the speed of the game and I thin they are going to be even better.
Question: A lot was made on Friday night of the six true freshmen that played. After looking back at the tape how do you think those six guys looked now?
Dantonio: I think Montae Nicholson played very well. He got that opening hit on the kickoff that was very impressive. I think he did well on kickoff and did some good things on special team. I thought he got a lot of snaps in the fourth quarter so I think he took a step. Malik McDowell and Craig Evans on the inside, you know it’s a little bit more of a grind, and the tempo. It was hot, muggy and to go in there you have to learn to play at game speed. It’s a confidence factor, but again it’s about putting six or seven plays together. I thought they did ok, for true freshman they certainly, you saw Malik chase a few guys down and that type of thing. So he played with some effort there, but he has to be constant. Montez Sweat got a sack in a limited role. He did good on that play and played with effort. I thought Brian Allen for his first time played a lot after Travis Jackson went down. He played like a freshman at times, but he’s very very solid, but just like any freshman you throw in there. Played 34 snaps so being thrown in there in the midst of understanding the different checks and things. He’s going to be a very very good player for us. Chris Frey, again he showed on special team and he had a chance. Don’t remember how many snaps right off the top of my head, but I thought he played O.K. Again the conditioning factor. Being able to put six, seven, eight, nine plays in continuous order and to be able to play at a higher level he’s got to do a better job in that aspect. But you can see he can run and he can tackle and he can play with power.
Hondo: You played six true freshmen last game. With one game under your belt is it safe to assume that any others eligible for a red shirt are going to get it or are you and will you still considering breaking a red shirt on anyone?
Dantonio: No I would not say that. Injuries will enter into that and I just felt like we needed to hold Madre London. If we are going to play him, I would say that something like that is going to have to happen if we are going to play him. He is a very very good tailback and I don’t just want to play him for a couple of plays. We’ve got to let things show themselves before that decision is made I think. Same with Miguel Machado, the junior college player. We could redshirt him as well, but those decisions will be made during games. They will be game ready. We’ll see what happens as the games unfold, but they will travel with us. Those two guys. I am trying to think of anyone else. Enoch Smith, Jr. and David Beedle really could go thru all of the freshman, but right now I’d say the guys we talked about are the guys closest to playing.
Hondo: Because the game was not close, is it fair to characterize the performance of Kevin Cronin as underappreciated?
Dantonio: I thought he had a nice performance. I thought he could have hung it up after the 15 yard penalty on the goal line there, but I thought he was very solid. Probably because of the nature of the game I thought he could have got mixed a little bit in the shuffle, but I thought the kickoff team played very well.
Question: You said you wish you could have run the ball better. When you watched the film what was the problem?
Dantonio: WE lost Travis Jackson; they got penetration and put a lot of people up there. They had a lot of zone pressures and they hit some gaps and things of that nature. The players that they have, that is not a bad football team and that team is going to win a lot of football games. The players that they have, the transfer that they have up there are division one players. I mean that had 6’7” 270 pound defensive end and things of that nature. They played the point and their linebackers ran around it and they played and hit. There was some gap, there was a little bit of wiggle (defensive technique terminology) running room, they made some plays. Again it was 38 to nothing at the half so I think we performed pretty well. I think we had a couple of break out runs, but you have to credit Jacksonville State too. They played hard. When the score was bad they continued to play hard which you saw around America yesterday. The score was NOT indicative to how they played. You can look at the South Dakota game, big score, but they played hard.
Question: I know it is early, but with the playoff where you pleased with how the Big Ten showed itself?
Dantonio: I thought the Big Ten represented itself across the board yesterday but its two games in. So like last year we were nowhere to be found this time of year so I think it’s way too early to be making assumptions on any football team.
Question: I know you wanted the team focused on Jacksonville State, but did you as a staff do any extra prep over the summer for Oregon considering how good they are?
Dantonio: We always do advance work on every team that we play in the late spring or the early summer. That is just what we do. Naturally considering Oregon was an early game, just like all of the early games and because it was a new opponent, we spend additional time.
Question: Do you devote more time to a team that is of that caliber and you don’t face every year?
Dantonio: I won’t say we devote more time, but I won’t say we don’t devote less time. How is that for an answer?
Hondo: After watching film could you give us your assessment of the play of Darian Hicks and R.J. Williamson please.
Dantonio: I thought Darian played pretty solid. He had a great pick. Just getting his feet wet really. The first time playing all of the plays he played really. He kept up with the tempo. I thought R.J. played O.K., but again he needs to play with the tempo. It’s putting those plays in consecutive order. We run a lot in our secondary. We don’t ask our players to be passive players, they are active players. Especially the backside safety. Those guys are involved in every aspect of run and pass and they’ve got to be supremely conditioned. So first time out, the no huddle defense so we are going to, you can’t simulate that. It is very difficult to simulate that and entire football game. He played a lot of plays. He played a lot of snaps so we left him in there the 3rd quarter. He’s a good football player. Does he need to play better? Disappointed that he didn’t come up with the pick when it was tipped. Disappointed on a missed tackle that lead to their only touchdown, but we are trying to be perfectionists.