Nov. 23, 2008
Head Coach Mark Dantonio
Obviously, it's very disappointing when you have high expectations and you come out and have a bad performance. It's not something you look forward to and it's very disappointing to our fans and our players. I thought the game got away from us in the second quarter. They played very well on third down and we had a chance to get out on third down numerous times and did not. Screens hurt us. We knew the screens were coming and they still hurt us. And then they opened it up a little bit.
Offensively, I think that we get across the 50 a little bit and then sputter out. We got a drive to give us a touchdown in the end to get back in it. And we started the third quarter down 28-7 and had a sack go from first-and-10 to second-and-20. We go out on that one, and they score the next series, so a disappointing game. We gotta pick up the pieces, and the bowl game comes a little more of a source of playing for respect again - redemption. We need that. Focus on being 9-3.
We had not been in this situation before; playing in a championship is a learning experience for us. And a hostile environment.
That's a very good Penn State team. Congratulations to Penn State. They are a very good football team. They are excellent up front. Very good skill. Quarterback did a nice job. Very well-coached defensively. So that's that. We need to learn to play in this type of environment at this type of level with these types of stakes and we need to do better and get back to work.
On the third-down breakdowns...
Well, initially it was the screens. It seemed like when we pressured, they hit the screen. It seemed like when we covered and used a spy on the guy on the screen. I think they got us on three screens in the first half. After that, they went on top on us. They used a trick play on us. They went on top and beat our guy. No one feels worse than those guys but you've got to play better.
On Penn State's conversion on the third-and-18 in the second quarter...
Well, you keep playing. That's what I've been saying the entire game: "You keep playing; you gotta finish the game. You have to keep playing. You have to keep working." It's tough when things are getting out of control a little bit. But things are going to be like that in your life, too, when things are spun out of control and you need to regroup. So we continue to try to do that and we'll do that now. You learn something every time you go out to play. You learn a little more about yourself, about your football team, about how you handle adversity. This obviously is an adverse time for us.
On the program's status as a Big Ten title contender...
Well, obviously, we are a ways away. We were better last year. Maybe we had an older team last year, in some respects. We don't have many seniors. I don't have an answer for that. When the stakes have been high, in the Ohio State experience as well, we get very excited. We get very focused and worked very hard during the entire week. There's confidence there. We can't seem to catch on fire and play ourselves back. I guess that's the thing you look at...You gotta get off the field on third down to get your offense on the field.
On Penn State...
Well, I think Penn State has been recruiting at this type of level, a championship level, for a long, long period of time. They certainly have had a couple of years when they were down a bit and have come back. I remember in '03 maybe. I'm not going to sit here and say they have better players than we do. They played much better than we did today. They are a very good football team. They are an 11-1 football team.
On the running game...
I thought we could have been more balanced against them. I thought that we ran the ball last year against them. We won last year. But there's something to be said that every time they come to Spartan Stadium they don't play well and when we come here we don't play well sometimes. But, we weren't able to run it effectively against them, offensively.
When you took this job, you promised to finish games. I think you're undefeated when leading in the fourth quarter this year. Is that next step finding a way against elite teams and elite talent?
Our goal is to win championships here. That'll always be our goal, and we'll try to tear up to get there. Sometimes you gotta take two steps forward. I think 9-3 is a great football season. We took two steps forward from last year. But we took a step back today. You need to learn from your mistakes, learn from your experiences and that's what life is all about. If there's a life lesson in this, it's that as a person, as a player, as a team, you're going to fail in a lot of things. The key to your success will ultimately be how you handle yourself afterwards. It's a lot tougher to sit here and answer questions when you lose like this. I'll be strong; we'll be strong. And we'll get there.
On Brian Hoyer...
Well, the second one he got hit. The other one was in the first half, I believe. He took some hits. I thought he was pretty sharp in the first half. I thought he played hard. I thought he had a little something on the football. But give Penn State a lot of credit. They have good players. They are very well designed. They are well coached. They have a good system there for many, many years with Coach Bradley. So give them credit as well. He gave us a good chance early on.
On what Penn State was doing well...
I call it winning at the point of attack. Their linebackers are very good. They flow. Good defensive tackles. It was a very good football team we played today.
Senior Quarterback Brian Hoyer
After this huge game against Penn State and a long season, and given you're probably going to play someone pretty good soon, what are you going to do now?
I'm going to relax for a couple weeks. We're going to sit around and see whom we play obviously, probably an SEC team of some sort. We're assuming we'll be in the Capitol One Bowl or Outback Bowl. It's a long season. To get a couple weeks off, I'm sure my teammates are going to enjoy the time off. I know we're going to meet on Monday, I'll watch this film and then I'll put it behind me. We do have something big still to look forward to in a New Year's Day bowl game.
How much of a black eye is this on the regular season?
We just lost to the Big Ten champs. The score probably looks a lot worse than it was. We were moving the ball, but we hurt ourselves with penalties and third-and-longs. I'm sure the score looks bad, but those guys just won the Big Ten Championship. They came out ready and we hurt ourselves too much.
Senior Running Back Javon Ringer
Does knowing that you have one more game left and that it's going to be a pretty big one take away a little bit of the sting from today?
Speaking in the moment right now, no. It still kind of hurts. After a couple of days go by and this is more out of the picture, I'll feel a little bit better. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to play in a January bowl game; you have to feel blessed for that. But having the Big Ten title right there and this being my first time ever and it being my senior year and this being my last shot, that's going to sting a little bit. But, eventually we're going to get over this. We can't dwell on it.