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BUY TICKETS

Sunday Football Wrap-Up

Oct. 9, 2017

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State head football coach Mark Dantonio held a media teleconference Sunday evening to discuss his team's performance in the 14-10 win at No. 7 Michigan.

Following the victory over the Wolverines, the Spartans (4-1, 2-0 Big Ten) entered The Associated Press Top 25 for the first time this season at No. 21. MSU also entered the Amway Coaches Poll at No. 22.

The Spartans return to action Saturday, Oct. 14 to take on Minnesota (3-2, 0-2 Big Ten) at 8 p.m. in Minneapolis. The game will be televised on BTN.

Excerpts from Sunday's teleconference:

On the turnover margin...
I thought our safeties played very, very well. David (Dowell) also had some tackles and a pass break-up and obviously was on the front end of three turnovers, so huge plays. Khari (Willis) played very well; tracked a guy down on a reverse, tracked another guy down one time - just ran him down, so he played extremely well. When you look at our defense, much like I looked at our offense, our defense obviously kept us in the game. We were difficult to run on after the first series. We really only gave up one explosive play and they fumbled on that one on the pass play, so when you talk about 20-yard passes, we gave up zero, and 15-yard runs we gave up zero. We came away with five turnovers and didn't give up the big plays, good things start to happen. I thought we pressured the quarterback, he didn't have a lot of time. We pressured him into mistakes, and then we had four sacks as well. I do agree though, our safeties played very well. Obviously Joe Bachie continues to play very well and we got good play out of our defensive front. I thought Josiah Scott and Justin Layne played very solid, too.

 

 

On the play of the offensive line...
Well I thought as much as anything the structure of what we did was very sound. Chase Gianacakos played some tight end for us, he's a 6-5, 300-pound guy and he may not have gone out for a pass, but he was in the protection mode as part of the protection. We also ran the ball. We said we had to stay ahead of the chains -- that was the other thing that I said we had to be able to do. When I say `run the ball,' it was tough sledding in there but we had to take that, we couldn't become a third-down-and-12 team, a third-and-15 team, because we took sacks or passed the ball 50 times in that weather. We had to endure whatever came with the run; and so that meant punting some. Hartbarger punted well, but we punted a lot. We played the field position game and defensively we played well enough to keep everything sort of at bay, and they also punted a lot. Just by the nature of the game, the way it all shook out, that was the way we planned on playing it and that's what happened. I think that our guys up front, obviously Brian Allen is playing very well and he controls a lot of things up there. Beyond that, everybody has their moments.

On Justin Layne's play...
I think Justin is playing well. He's a big guy, long, can really run and has great ball skills. I thought he tackled pretty well. Remember, he came here as a wide-out -- you know he played defensive back in high school -- but he came here as a wide-out, so a lot of the things that he experienced last year he was experiencing for the first time without really summer camp. I think he's a good player, he's going to continue to get better.

On what he saw after watching film...
There's a lot you couldn't see with that rain and everything else we had going on down there. I was just really pleased with how hard we played; I thought our safeties both played extremely well and our secondary, we did pressure the quarterback so we got pressure from a four-man rush a lot, at times at least making him nervous. Whether it was the coverage downfield or some type of simulated pressure, we got the quarterback moving in the pocket. When you move in the pocket and, from my experience, when you're off your dime, you're off your launch point, your initial launch point, things become more difficult and I think that's what happened in the game.

On how the offensive line is coming along and helping the run game...
I do think you're correct in that. Iowa played very well, Michigan is great up there as well. There are a lot of different things thrown at our guys, relative to the things conceptually from Michigan's defense. A little bit more basic from Iowa, but you know they do it very, very well. Both games we knew we'd be challenged up front. We knew it was going to be tough to run the football, but nevertheless we decided we were going to run it. The production might not be there as much as we want, but we were going to run it and we were going to force the issue at the very least force the issue in terms of not getting behind the chains. I think our quarterback is creating, he's making some plays with his feet. He's also got a couple of called runs that we've used as well. There's just been a different dynamic in terms of what we've done offensively maybe that what we have before. There's no question that we've got to get our tailbacks running the ball. The production has to come, I think for us to continue to grow as a football team. We'll go to work on it.

On the challenges of putting a huge win like this in the past...
Well I think the maturity factor, just because you're young doesn't mean you're not mature. We've gone through some things this past season that has given us cause and has caused a great amount of growth for us actually. When you see how things played out last season and when we went through some of the things we went through in the spring. All of these things helped to give us some resolve and hopefully makes us a more mature person on the football field and away from the football field. I think that you have to have a certain amount of discipline and maturity within your program in order to handle success; and that's what we now must do. We must handle the success that we've been given. I think we have to have a certain amount of discipline and maturity to be able to handle the success that we've had here recently. We're going to find out more about our football team in all areas. Like I said, before this football game, we were either going to win the game and have to handle success -- we have seven more games to go; or we were going to have to regroup when we've got seven more games to go. Traditionally I think this game has been a little later in the season.

On texts he received after the game...
A lot of good friends, a lot of good coaches that I know well, a lot of good friends. One of my daughters cleaned up all of my texts for me, as a matter of fact, on Saturday so I had zero going in. I think I had 151 going out of that game. I haven't gotten back to everybody yet but pass it along, I appreciate it all.

On if the guys have had a chance to appreciate the win...
A little bit this morning before we came in, but by the time I got home it was 2 o'clock. Just the ride itself -- nothing important on the ride, it's just sort of sitting there with yourself, collecting yourself. When you win a big football game like that, that's the nature of it.

On Brian Lewerke's progression and decision making...
I think his decision making has been better, you do notice that. I think every opportunity he has to play in a game there's going to be growth. I think that's the case for our whole football team. We're just young in a lot of different areas at times. I think he made plays with his feet, certainly. He got out of problems. Michigan has got a great defense, I don't think there's any question about that. I think the keys to the game, really after I watched the film -- from an offensive perspective, zero turnovers, and we were not sacked. We were two-for-two in the red zone, when we got in the red zone we were two-for-two for touchdowns. Obviously we didn't have the production that we wanted to have, you know we had the one dropped pass, I think it was in the second quarter. Then we had bad field position and with the weather and everything else in the second half, but those are the key components. The quarterback being able to create and scramble, a touchdown and then a couple of times for yardage, getting first downs. No turnovers, no sacks.

On Laress Nelson's play...
It's difficult for anybody out there. Laress has done a good job back there. We want to continue to help him grow in that area, but the circumstances were tough. He's not playing all of the time on offense; he's in and out a little bit, but not all the time and I think that he's not caught six balls in 30 games, you know he's a freshman, so that's difficult. Andre Welch on the back you know he bobbled the one when he did catch it on the goal-line, so those are some of the things that we have to look at and there's going to be growing pains as we go. Some of those things we have to make decisions on obviously, but not a perfect game on our part, just not a perfect game. We live and we learn, but we got through it.

On the team's growth this season...
I think this football team is unique in the fact that we are a young football team in a lot of areas. We've got a true freshman starting at right guard (Kevin Jarvis), who played pretty well all things considered. You know when you have a redshirt freshman at right tackle (Luke Campbell), your left tackle is a sophomore (Cole Chewins), your left guard is a redshirt sophomore (Tyler Higby). You've got young receivers out there as well. You could say the same thing on the defensive side of the ball -- we're playing a lot of different players; a lot of first time starters. We're going to grow every time we've got an opportunity to play. The thing that you can look at our football team right now is that we're playing extremely hard and we're playing together. We believe in each other; we understand there is going to be come mistakes, but we believe in each other and that's giving us strength. We are confident with every outing. We need to stay focused and stay in the present.

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