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Sunday Football Wrap-Up

Nov. 6, 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 27-24 win over No. 7 Penn State last Saturday.

Following the victory over the Nittany Lions, MSU (7-2, 5-1 Big Ten) moved up to No. 13 in The Associated Press Poll and No. 16 in the Amway Coaches Poll.

The Spartans return to action Saturday, Nov. 11 at noon to face No. 11/11 Ohio State (7-2, 5-1) in Columbus, Ohio. The game will be televised on FOX.

In scheduling news, the kick time for the MSU-Maryland game on Nov. 18 in Spartan Stadium will not be announced until after this Saturday's games. The options for the start times are either noon/3:30 p.m./4 p.m.

Excerpts from Sunday's teleconference...

Opening statement...
I thought we got the ball in our guys' hands to make plays, LJ Scott, etc. Wide receivers caught the ball very effectively. Biggest reasons we probably won was turnover margin as much as anything, three to one. We both had a fourth down stop so that enters into it. Brian Lewerke played outstanding, I thought he threw the ball very effectively, for the most part made good decisions. Felton Davis had a big day, but other guys had big catches as well, you know Hunter Rison, Darrell Stewart, Cody White, so I thought we played effectively there. Defensively, I thought after the first, two out of the first three series resulted in touchdowns we sort of settled down. We tripped on the one long one, but I thought we played pretty effectively. We stopped the run, Barkley had one big run where he got out the gate a little bit other than that we contained him pretty successfully and a big win. Matt Coghlin has two big kicks in the game -- the last one the game-winner and that was exciting to watch that. Now we go to Ohio State to see what's next. I'll take some questions.

 

 

On if any guys stood out after watching the film...
I would say that Kyonta Stallworth played, for his first time played very effectively. We had a couple of guys go out -- Mufi (Hill)-Hunt played a little bit (at DL), but I thought Kyonta went in there and played very well. I thought Raequan Williams played well, Naquan (Jones) was very active. You know on the defensive end situation, Willekes had another big game with a lot of production, as well as Bachie and Andrew Dowell played pretty well, as well. On the back end Khari Willis had a good game, obviously David Dowell with his picks -- you know that's a difficult position to play at times because you're isolated at times, but I thought he played very, very well.

On the offensive side of the ball, the wide-outs performed very, very well. Quarterback as well, but I think that's pretty noticeable. On the interior line, I thought we pass-protected pretty well, gave up only one sack and they're sending pressure every single time. Ran the ball with what was there, you know we ran the ball to the best of our abilities but there's a lot of moving pieces in there, and it's not to say that other people don't pressure you the same, but a lot of moving pieces and you've just got to be able to pick things up and we missed a crease one time on fourth-and-one.

Obviously special teams played well. Kickoff team was very important and made the decision to kick off to Barkley and I thought Brett Scanlon had a great day kicking the ball into the end zone I believe three times. So that was a big positive. I thought we covered well.

I don't know if that gets it all (laughter).

On Khari Willis and David Dowell going over the middle on crossing routes...
It's the RPO's, it's the run-pass-option plays that isolate your defensive backs in a lot of cases. They are play action passes that create a run/pass conflict and, you know so you've got to be able to play those or you've got to be able to adapt and play some different coverages and some different things. We'll attempt to do some of those things as we move forward. The crossing routes itself, the shallow crossing routes, it's just something Penn State and a lot of other people are doing so you know we've got to be able to play those. But the crust of the whole thing is their quarterback, like a lot of quarterbacks, can get out of trouble and he'll launch. As I said earlier, he'll launch the ball downfield on deep shots so we've got to be able to contain him, so we had to take an extra guy to be able to do that at times as well. We took one person out of the shallow crosser area.

On the team's confidence...
I think we're a confident team in terms of we're going to play hard and compete. Every game is going to be different, but I think that we've become a little bit more confident as we take each step and I don't want an overconfident team, I want a team that's sure of themselves. We'll play fast and play hard and compete. We're going to make some mistakes and what I've seen so far is the game is going to be tight. We'll just keep playing one play at a time. It's not perfect, but few football games are. I'm very confident that our guys are having fun, competing, got good leadership in the locker room, good chemistry in the locker room, and there's good emotion.

On how he got the guys ready for the game after the delay...
Well, you know this is not the first time we've had a situation. We had this situation in Minnesota, we also took a bus ride to Northwestern which was completely out of the ordinary in that case because we had to leave so late. This is just another situation. There was no game plan for it, because we never expected it. We really just didn't make a big deal about it. We just said, `hey we're going to play.' We've got to get some food in them, we don't want to meet them the entire time because I just don't think we wanted them to have to have centered attention for that long. We made some adjustments, we came back and re-established those, reiterated those one more time, maybe two more times. We let people just sort of chill. We put some games on in the locker room, we have some big screen televisions in there so we had a couple of games on. I think we were actually watching the Ohio State/Iowa game a little bit along with some other games. Guys were taking naps, I even saw a guy come out of the shower. I said, `did you just take a shower?' and he said, `yeah, gotta get fresh,' so, and we spread out. And then when we found the time that it was ready to go, we got ready to go. I sensed that Penn State was of that same sense. When I was walking out of the locker room, you know I saw them coming out of their locker room and they were excited to play as well. I think both teams were just excited to get on with it. Because it was different, and I think that because it was different I think there was a certain amount of excitement that went with it. Our crowd, I mean, we didn't fill up the place -- by far, you know that -- but the ones that were there were passionate and it was loud. You guys who were there, it was loud and those fans were tremendous and I want to thank them for hanging in there and staying, coming back.

On doing better at tackling in space after the delay...
We really didn't talk about that, you know that's something that we always center things on -- you've got to be able to tackle. I do think that they had a chance to sort of settle themselves a little bit too, reaffirm what's important and we talked a lot about pre-snap recognition and their initial footwork, their initial steps and then finishing. Because a football play lasts four to five seconds usually, so it's really about you know your eye control, your pre-snap recognition then your eye control during the play, then your initial step, your footwork, whatever that is and then finishing and completing that with effort.

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