Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio spoke with the media on Tuesday about his team’s upcoming trip to Notre Dame this weekend. Here are a few notes from what he had to say.
- Dantonio said that Michigan State needs to get back to what they do best – playing fundamentally sound – after missing a lot of tackles and allowing for yards after the catch against Central Michigan last weekend.
- Dantonio talked about the youth of the Michigan State team, but also said that 31 of the players on the MSU roster this year were also on the roster in 2007 when the Spartans last came down to Notre Dame Stadium.
- He credited Michigan State playing fundamentally sound and not turning the ball over as the reason for the Spartans winning six games in a row in Notre Dame Stadium. This will be the fourth time Dantonio coaches in Notre Dame Stadium. He was an assistant in 1997 and 1999 and was the head coach in 2007. All three previous trips were Michigan State wins with ’97 serving as the start of MSU’s streak.
- Unlike Charlie Weis who emphasized Michigan State’s winning streak, Dantonio downplayed the steak when he spoke to the media. He said that the players that were on the 2007 team share in the streak, but outside of those players it’s a clean slate. This makes sense for Dantonio since he won’t want his players thinking a win is a given for MSU just because they’ve won 6 in a row.
- The Irish receivers pose an “extreme challenge” for the MSU secondary this weekend. Dantonio said they will focus on making plays on the ball while it’s in the air. He talked about Notre Dame throwing the ball up deep and the MSU secondary having to be able to get up in the air and make plays.
- Dantonio also downplayed Michigan State’s defensive success against Notre Dame last year in East Lansing stating that this year is a “clean slate”.
- He is excited to see how his team responds with it’s back up against the wall after last week’s loss and a string of three tough games in a row – @ Notre Dame, @ Wisconsin, and vs. Michigan.
- Dantonio wants his defense to get more pressure on Jimmy Clausen this weekend than they got on Dan LeFevour last week.
- Both Michigan State quarterbacks will play again this week.
- Dantonio said that a lack of experience at running back is part of the reason the Spartans haven’t been able to run the ball as effectively this season. MSU lost over 90% of its rushing yards from last season with Javon Ringer playing on Sundays now leaving very little experience in the MSU backfield.
- He hinted that MSU might use the backs in the passing game more this week depending on the pressures Notre Dame brings.
- Just as Charlie Weis spends most of his time with the offense, Dantonio said he spends most of his time with the defense – especially in the secondary – since that is his area of expertise.
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