Football Update: Spartans Await Postseason Bowl Invitation
Below are some highlights from Mark Dantonio's interview Wednesday with Jack Arute and Dan Hawkins on SiriusXM's College Football Playbook.
Nov. 28, 2012
Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio:
"(Heading into the regular-season finale at Minnesota) We were standing on a cliff and the players responded under pressure. There was a feeling of contentment in the locker room following the game. It was important to earn our sixth-straight bowl bid, and this senior class wanted to leave their mark on the program. This team didn't want the bowl streak to end. At this point, we don't know where we're headed, but we will represent.
"Our focus this week has been on recruiting. Last year, we played in the Big Ten Championship Game and lost a week of recruiting. This year, we'll spend a solid two weeks on recruiting and part of a third week. We have one more week of classes, and then a week of exams left in the semester. The players will resume lifting and running next week and we'll get back to work next weekend (bowl practices).
"We've looked at all of the possible bowl scenarios, so (director of football operations) Tim Allen and (director of executive football operations) Brad Lunsford have been heavily involved in the planning process. They already have practice plans and travel itineraries set. Each year, we look to remove bugs out of the system and make the bowl experience better every year.
"We knew we were young coming into the season, especially in terms of reps at some positions. We lost nearly 85 percent of our production (receiving yards) at wide receiver, so we knew there was going to some growth and a learning curve at that position. The receivers have played much better during the second half of the season and on into the final weeks of the regular season.
"Our offense features Le'Veon Bell, the Big Ten's leading rusher. On the other side of the ball, we led the Big Ten in rushing defense, total defense and scoring defense. Those are all positive signs, but the bottom line is we have to finish games. We lost five Big Ten games by (a combined total) 13 points, so there's a small margin for error.
"The one thing this team has done each and every week is compete. This team has been very resilient, and that's a testament to the character of our team and the leadership of our seniors. This team has gone about its business and prepared each week, and it feels like it can play with anybody in the country. These players also know that it's critical to learn how to finish (games).
"There was definitely a lot of pressure to win that last regular-season game. In reality, we only have nine seniors in the playing group and only four of those are starters. We have a large junior class, so we have a lot of experience coming back that should benefit us greatly in 2013. The last game - our bowl game - is something the seniors will remember the rest of their lives. So it's really a life moment. So it's important that we come out focused to win. A bowl victory would help set the tone for next season. Bowl games can definitely serve as a springboard into the next year."