Bye Week Update
 
 
 
MSU head coach Mark Dantonio and the Spartans are preparing to face Iowa on Oct. 5.
 
MSU head coach Mark Dantonio and the Spartans are preparing to face Iowa on Oct. 5.
 
 

Sept. 25, 2013

EAST LANSING, Mich. - With Michigan State's first bye week of the season set for Saturday, Sept. 28, the Spartans hit the practice field for the first time this week on Wednesday. Prior to practice, head coach Mark Dantonio gave an update on the team to reporters.

The Spartans will also practice on Thursday before taking Friday and Saturday off. MSU will return to practice on Sunday to prep for the Iowa game on Oct. 5 in Iowa City.

Below are excerpts from Dantonio's briefing with the media:

Opening statement...
We're looking forward to this week's practice and just getting back out here on the football field. We're looking forward to Iowa and starting of the Big Ten season.

On if the plan is still to redshirt Damion Terry...
We make redshirt decisions as we go. I'm not making the decision right now. As of right now, he'll be our scout team quarterback. He's not going to get the reps with the ones or twos. You never know how things shake out.

On what he's looking forward to accomplishing during the bye week...
I think it's an opportunity to step away. It's an opportunity for our players to sort of step back and re-evaluate themselves a little bit, re-evaluate where we're at and refocus and regroup, and plant your foot in the ground and drive forward. It's also a chance just to separate yourself away a little bit from football. You never can completely get away from it. But you just allow yourself a little bit of a deep breath before you go under. When you go under in the Big Ten season, you're going to take a deep breath and you're going to dive under the water pretty deep. So it's an opportunity for us to do that - all of us.

On establishing high goals for the program...
I embrace the high expectations. We have very high expectations here. If you look at last week's game, we (could) be 4-0. Like I said on Sunday, we lost a football game, but we didn't lose our way. We could have won the football game many different ways. We didn't. You congratulate Notre Dame and move on. We'll have an opportunity to win every single football game we'll play in. I think our football team is improving. I think there's strength in certain areas that we're going to be able to accentuate. And then there's other things that are weaknesses that we have to work on. That's just the way the game is, really. You're going to have that. You're going to play to your strengths, and minimize your weaknesses. But we're excited about it.

 

 

On if the running game should have been more emphasized against Notre Dame...
You have to stay balanced as a football team. It's hard to say. As you go through that game and look at it, there were two 15-yard penalties that helped us on that one drive. You've got to stay balanced, otherwise you're just going to become one dimensional. We have to do things for the long haul. We said we were going to Notre Dame with the idea of getting better as a football team and also allowing ourselves to grow. Well, you can't grow if you just become one dimensional. You have to put people out there and allow them those opportunities. Things didn't work out as we wanted to at the end of the deal, but that football team played in the national championship game last year, so obviously they have some good players. I thought we played right there and had opportunities to win.

On if this is the deepest defense he's coached...
Yeah, I think it is. We have guys that can play at a high level that are twos, even at our linebacker position we have those guys. Ed Davis has really grown as a player. He's going to be a great player for us. You'll see him playing as well.

On the No. 2 Star position (linebacker) with Jairus Jones out with a knee injury...
We've moved Mylan Hicks there. I think also Darien Harris could move out there; he's played out there before. He's a 215-pound linebacker who can really run; he's strong and has game experience. Mylan can go out there and play. We'll have to see how he can play in the box vs. two-back sets, but he's a tough guy who weighs about 200 pounds. He's active, and he can do some of the things that Jairus was able to do. (Hicks) can sort of complement Taiwan (Jones) as he plays.

On Darien Harris' future position...
I think he can be anyplace. He can be in any one of those three places; he's just looking for an opportunity to get involved. He's a good football player. He showed that in the one summer scrimmage where he had 10, 11 tackles and he played with the ones the whole day and was very, very good at MIKE (middle linebacker). But he's played out at Star before and he has the athletic ability to do that. That should be a place for him to go to.

On Lawrence Thomas, and when he might be available to return...
He's not been able to do too much, so he'll begin to move back into the conditioning phase of it, and we'll see how far he can come. Can he be ready for Iowa? We'll see. We have to see how he's coming; we have to watch him. But he's going to start to progress this week.

On the plan for the week...
I think today is about us, tomorrow is a little bit about Iowa because we have a very solid foundation in terms of who they are. We've been playing them for the last six years. And then you game plan basically next week after we see their game (vs. Minnesota). We'll start to game plan more intensely on Sunday. I think you have to watch who they are as of late. There will be a pretty good idea in terms of what they do as we move into tomorrow.

We'll practice on Sunday. But we'll be off (Friday and Saturday). I think it's good for them to be away a little bit and watch college games. Hopefully, they'll have a chance to go home. You don't have many chances to go home as a college football player. Hopefully they take advantage of that opportunity to go home, and maybe see their high school team play, or just go home and see their family for a day.

On Jamal Lyles working at tight end...
I think it gives Jamal a chance to settle in a little bit. He can still play defensive end and may get some reps there as we go. There's a huge learning curve because he missed all spring and really all of fall camp at tight end. He's coming. He had a great catch at tight end on Saturday. There's going to be opportunities for him to be more involved.

On Macgarrett Kings Jr...
I think Macgarrett has done a great job catching the football. I still think he needs to clean up his routes. He's still a young player. He's exciting to watch and catches the ball very, very well. On the lineup shuffle at offensive line...
Last Saturday, the quarterback (only) got hit six times. So if you're not getting hit, you have a chance to make plays. We were able to run the ball as well. We worked some different deals in there.

On Aaron Burbridge...
I think he's a young receiver, and it's a game-to- game thing with him sometimes when you're young. But he's got a lot of ability. We've got to wait for him to take that next step.

On Iowa...
Every year, you're going to see a team that plays extremely hard. They're going to be fundamentally sound, both offensively and defensively. They're going to do what they do. They're a little bit like us - they do what they do, and they do it well. They sort of pulled themselves together and they're playing very, very well. That's who they are, and they're going to be a well-coached football team.