Mark Dantonio Talks Notre Dame


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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  1. Seems like Weis has the offence on all hitting on all cylinders. However, as mentioned above (in so many words) what separated ND from other programs in the past was special teams and fundamentally sound football (e.g. tackling). For instance how many times did you see Harrison Smith come flying in head first looking for the big hit? When you are a Free Safety at any Level you better be pretty darn sure tackler- because if you miss…bye bye…

  2. I am not going on a limb and saying that the irish will win out, but there is not doubt in my mind they should. Forcier played like a seasoned vet, took the team on his shoulders, and won the game. All we can do is tip our hat to him. We don’t need to post shut-outs every week, but our D just needs to play average and we will win games.

    BTW, the game is on NBC this weekend but the schedule posted on this site says ABC.

  3. Is this what it’s like to be a Cubs fan? Cute venue and fun to reminisce, while frustately joking about the present? Oh, man don’t tell me we’re here. I hope we’re more like two Boston teams, the Red Sox and the Celtics. Both programs seemed to have risen above periods of hopelesness.

    A bunch of big “ifs” loom this weekend.

    Good ifs……..

    If ND dominates MSU……..
    If ND’s defense stops the run……
    If ND’s pass rush causes sacks and turnovers…….
    If ND’s O-line dominates……..
    If ND plays agressive but with minimal mistakes……
    If ND wins big, is happy, but not satisfied…..
    If Weis speaks briefly about leadership not X’s and O’s……..

    Bad ifs…………

    If ND loses………….
    If Weis explains a loss in terms of X’s and O’s……..
    If Weis makes any excuses…….
    If ND wins a tight game……..
    If MSU runs successfully……….
    If Clausen plays sloppy…….
    If the running game looks like it did against Nevada…….
    If ND doesn’t finish strong……….
    If Weis takes his foot off the gas in the 4th quarter…..

    What did I miss.

    1. C-Dog:

      How do we avoid the “Weis Lovers” if we lose? We will automatically be branded as Weis/ND haters if we don’t lock-step in wishful thinking.

      How dare we think like champions and have high expectations??

    2. I have been a Weis supporter since the day he was hired. I am still loyal to him but I just dont understand his reasoning to pass the ball on the last series of the game. I think a good reason he could have stated was “our defense cant stop there offense at all and I didnt want them to touch the ball again”. Well ok then but stating “that play worked for us all day” wasnt good enough for me. We were running the ball pretty damn good. If we lose to Mich St I will officially not support CW anymore. Jimmy is putting up Heisman like numbers. We are witnessing probably the most prolific Irish offense ever. At the end of this year we are going to have SICK stats. All passing records will be shattered. If our D stops the run we will win the rest of our games. Yes, even USC. I no longer am worried about the O-line anymore or any concerns regarding the offense. Our D-line is very concerning to me.

    3. Oh God, please don’t compare us to the “Loveable Loosers.(The Cubs) I’d have to slit my wrists.
      I remember some years back Lou Holtz won his Mich.St game with special teams. A couple big returns for touchdowns.
      It used to be “Zibby” that you could count on to break one when you needed it.
      Somebody needs to step up and deliver some big plays on special teams.The offence is good, the defence needs some help. Plays on special teams can be that help.

  4. I think SAM is joking. If he is not joking then as Dan said “get a damn clue”. I never want to see Ty Willingham again. EVER!!!!

  5. yea we should bring in ty for recruiting so we can have like 14 players per class and about one offensive lineman every other year

  6. Michigan state just lost to god knows who…. Notre Dame should bounce back and shut down their running game. Last year i recall Michigan State running all over us, it’s time we use those linebackers we have been talking about forever. I don’t believe in getting rid of Charlie Weis, i do though think we should get somebody to be an offensive coordinator. I also think we should bring Ty Willingham for recruting. The only time Weis ever did good was with Ty’s roster

    1. We need a defensive coordinator. That has always been our achilles heel, even with Ty’s recruits running our offense with CW at the helm. In my opinion Ty was a terrible recruiter. If i remember right our classes got consistently worse and many began to jump ship towards the end of his tenure. He also never seemed to coach up the players he had. CW has got the personnel, unlike Ty in my opinion, but he too needs to coach up his players. Considering the talent and ratings our offensive line had, theres no excuse for them playing as bad as they did a few years ago. I’m with you that they should bounce back and shut down sparty. There probably isnt a single man on their roster we tried to recruit.

    2. Ty Willingham for recruiting. Ty had good recruiting for maybe his first year and these guys were carry over to Weis. Has last couple of years his recruiting was horrible outside of the Top 20. Weis has been consistently in the Top 20 or Top 10 in recruiting.

    3. If you think Ty is such a great recruiter then why is he out of a job? The key here is “out of a job!” We don’t need more blind leading the blind. Neither has a clue how to win big games to date, both their records speak for themselves.

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