Tuesday, October 30, 2012

News and notes from Mark Dantonio's weekly press conference

Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio held his weekly press conference on Tuesday where he discussed the win over Wisconsin and this week’s game with Nebraska. Here are the notes from what he had to say.

(Just a FYI, the Dantonio pressers last much longer than Hoke’s, that’s why his notes tend to be longer. I have had complaints about that. It’s not a bias thing, it’s a time thing)

- Dantonio said the team “just kept playing” against Wisconsin and showed a lot of composure. Felt the team grew a little bit on offense and it was good to see Andrew Maxwell win the game in overtime.
- He wouldn’t call the Wisconsin win a “season saver.” He thought it was a good win and it sent a message to keep playing and to finish. Said focus has to turn to Nebraska.
- Dantonio feels Maxwell is getting more comfortable as the season has progressed. He felt Maxwell “cut it loose” on the final drive in regulation and became confident in his abilities. He feels Maxwell has done a tremendous job but you are always asking for more out of your players and team and Dantonio feels Maxwell is growing. He feels he has the demeanor and the tools to do what the coaches want him to do.
- Dantonio called Max Bullough an overachiever, but said it with the greatest respect. Said he is very self driven and will always look to get better.
- Dantonio felt linebacker Taiwan Jones made a step forward in the Wisconsin game and had a great game.
- When asked about playing in close games Dantonio said that the big element is finishing. Against Ohio State, he felt they didn’t finish by not getting the ball back. Against Indiana, the team finished by playing very well in the second half. Against Iowa, the defense didn’t finish the game on a 5-minute drive by the Iowa offense. Against Michigan, the offense had a chance to finish late with a first down or a touchdown when they settled for a field goal. Against Wisconsin, Dantonio said the team just kept its composure and made the plays late when they needed to.
- When asked about MSU’s play in November, he has been proud about his team’s ability to finish the season strong in previous seasons. He said that’s when championships are won, in November.
- Said the team was “having fun” even when down 7-3 in the third quarter against Wisconsin and that was what helped them comeback. After the game, Dantonio apparently joined the team in a dance. He said that was the first time he had done that.
- When asked about Nebraska’s success, Dantonio attributed it to manufacturing the “Big Red Machine” and being able to create a style and mindset where they would run the football.
- Dantonio feels Taylor Martinez is similar to Braxton Miller and Denard Robinson. He is a big part of the offense and can produce a lot of yardage.
- Dantonio said last year, MSU didn’t play well against Nebraska. It was the one game he felt the team didn’t play well. He said his players want to atone for that this week.
- Dantonio said Dion Sims was about 80 percent against Wisconsin. They weren’t sure how much they would be able to use him in the game, but they were surprised about how much he did play. Dantonio expects him to play in full this week.
- Dantonio said the team is as healthy as it has been in the last three weeks. MSU has its first bye of the season after this week’s game with Nebraska.
- When asked about Rex Burkhead, Dantonio said he is a tough-minded football player and a complete football player. Even without him on the field, Nebraska is still moving the ball well.
- On the issues running the ball, Dantonio said they have a big, physical back (Le’Veon Bell) that needs to run downhill. Said MSU needs to strive for balance on offense and they need to avoid the penalties on the offensive line.
- Dantonio said Aaron Burbridge had a tough game (went without a catch). Said that comes with being a young guy. He was out of sync during the game but Dantonio said that he will bounce back.

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