Aug. 20, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio met with reporters Monday afternoon in the press box at Spartan Stadium before practice to provide an update on the Spartans as they begin their third and final week of preseason camp.
"We're sort of rounding the curve a little bit in terms of camp," said Dantonio. "It's important that we still stay in that camp mode but begin to work toward other things as well. I'm very satisfied with where we're at, but understand that we still can make progress and we have a lot of work to do yet."
With nearly 20 practices under the team's belt, Dantonio said his goal this week is to adjust the daily schedule while maintaining focus.
"If you can just change it up and make it interactive with our players, you're going to get the best out of them," claimed Dantonio. "Our players have always gone hard, they've always come to practice, they've always delivered their best shots in practice, so we're going to get that out of them. Our MO has been to work hard on the practice field and make sure that we're staying a little bit loose outside of it."
For quarterback Andrew Maxwell, who completed 13-of-24 passes for 212 yards to help lead the offense to a victory in Saturday's scrimmage, the final week of camp is still vital in terms of preparing for the season.
"We can go back and look at the film of every day of practice and pick something that we can get a little better at," said Maxwell. "And the next time you go out, if you put your focus on that, if you just realize that there are always areas of improvement that you want and take that approach and mindset to every practice, you're going to get something done."
"I feel with the camp grind, it's really helped us come together," senior right tackle Fou Fonoti said. "We can't do it by ourselves, so we have to continue to rely on each other."
Dantonio agreed that the chemistry of the team thus far has been one of the positives during preseason camp.
"There's a lot of things we have to prove yet, but the feeling among this team is that work very well with each other, they like each other, they get along, they push each other, and they have fun doing it," he said. "A lot of guys have an opportunity to play, so if our guys have an opportunity to play, then that's good for chemistry...That creates excitement for everybody."
QUOTABLE: Dantonio also talked on Monday about the buildup toward the first game against Boise State, how he's handling the preseason expectations of being ranked No. 13 in both major polls, and why he's confident in Maxwell leading the offense.
On if playing a ranked team at the beginning of the season raises the level of excitement in the offseason and throughout preseason camp...
"I think the norm is for everyone to get excited for your first game. Regardless of who you play, there's going to be a competitive nature to it. I think the media exposure, the national TV exposure, the night game, the crowd, the new scoreboards, all of that creates additional excitement for our guys. We had the new video boards on display the other day, and they're unbelievable. I think it will be a very interactive atmosphere for our fans as well."
On how he feels about Andrew Maxwell leading the offense and how Maxwell compares to Kirk Cousins...
"I have a lot of confidence in Andrew because of the type of person he is and because I've seen him and how he's led. That's the biggest thing that I'm excited about is his leadership abilities and how our other players respond to him. He's got a great arm, he's got physical ability, but when you get to gameday, it's about decisions. So there's going to be a learning curve there and with Kirk and how he had the experience to make those decisions, but Andrew has the skills to do all of these different things. His makeup, in terms of mentally, is very similar to Kirk's: he's competitive, he's loose, he's very humble, he's got good interaction with our players, and he's a very intelligent player. All those things point in that direction, but I'll make those comparisons at the end of his career, not at the beginning. I think Kirk Cousins has demonstrated where he's at."
Thoughts on being ranked in the top 15 in both polls and what it means for the program...
"We've always had high expectations of ourselves. I think that's athletics, that's sports, that's the competitive nature of everything for everyone that's involved in it. It's not all of a sudden a change for us in that respect. We've been ranked in the Top 25 before, we've been ranked coming in '09 and we fell out quick. So there's a message to our players and there's some things to learn from that. We've been outside the Top 25 and found ourselves in the Top 10 before too, in 2010.
"I think it's very important, and I keep saying it, that we just take one day at a time, we focus on the task at hand, get ready for that time period, get ready for Boise, and let the chips fall and start playing our cards. But I think it's very important though for us to just remain focused on the task. That's what you do. When you're a competitor, you compete in every game, not just say `hey, we're going to play through the season.' We're going to compete in every single game and be ready for every game, which is a challenge."