Dec. 24, 2012
PHOENIX - The Michigan State football team arrived in Arizona on Monday for the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, landing in Phoenix shortly after 4:30 p.m. ET.
After arriving, MSU head coach Mark Dantonio met with the local media for a press conference before sending his team through a brief practice at Corona del Sol High School in Tempe.
The Spartans (6-6) will face the TCU Horned Frogs (7-5) in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 29 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe on the campus of Arizona State University. The game will begin at 10:15 p.m. ET and will be televised on ESPN.
Visit msuspartans.com throughout the week for daily updates as the Spartans continue preparation for their sixth consecutive bowl game.
Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio
"On behalf of Michigan State and Mark Hollis our Athletic Director, thank you all for having us today. It's a great opportunity to be here. Our players are extremely excited about the challenge that TCU brings and all that they will be able to experience out here in the land of sunshine. We are very, very excited about this."
Any new wrinkles on offense for the bowl?
"I think where you are at in a bowl game, you are always going to see some different things both offensively and defensively from everybody that you play. We will have to let that play out as we get to game day."
How do you get your team ready for the bowl after a 6-6 regular season?
"We've had great chemistry on our football team. There is no question that we didn't end up with the record that we thought we would. We lost five games by a total of 13 points in that span. We tend to look at things as being half full. From a standpoint of a coach, as long as our players get ready to play, play with great enthusiasm and toughness and pay attention to detail and effort, from that perspective, I will take whatever comes down the pipe. I am extremely proud of our football team, as we have met every single challenge and continued to play throughout, even when those challenges seem to stop us from game to game. We're fine, we're good. Our players are expecting to win. We always do, every time we come out and we've lost some very close games to some outstanding football teams."
Will the team with the best defense win?
"That usually has a little something to do with it. I think both teams have outstanding defenses. (TCU) Coach (Gary) Patterson is known as a defensive minded coach. I think at the same time, it's going to be the football team that doesn't make mistakes on the offensive side of the ball. if you don't turn the ball over, if you can stay balanced, if you can run the ball some and throw it effectively, that's all going to enter into it. I also think that special teams play a huge, huge part in bowl games because of the layoff. Being laid off for three weeks or a month or so all falls into place. When you start preparing, you have to be on. You can't make mistakes."
Does the Monday to Saturday schedule benefit the team...
"We are really right on schedule. We gave our guys three days off to come back today and do a little something out at the practice facility today and then get right into it Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Our walk through is on Friday and then we play the game on Saturday. It's as much like a game week for us as we can possibly make it in a bowl situation. With that going on, there's a lot of stuff that they will be excited to see here. There's a lot of things our players have not seen before like the mountains or the sun, really. There's a lot of different things they are going to experience out here. We want them to have a great time but our focus will be on our challenge."
What's your mentality going into the bowl game?
"When you win, you tend to have a better experience. When you prepare and spend a lot of time trying to get ready for a football game, you want to win that football game. I think it propels that football team into 2013. Winning is at the forefront of what we want to do here and that has been emphasized quite often here as of late. It's going to make or break us. It's going to make the difference between a winning team and a losing team. We have to be realistic about that, look at that aspect of it and deal with it. I've always tried to just deal with the consequences with where we're at and that's where we are at. Our focus will be on winning the football game."
What do you do to keep the momentum going from the end of the regular season?
"Our football team has always come to play and I think that's one thing that we've been able to do with the foundation of our program. Whether we've lost in the last second, which I think four games we did, or won in that last second, we try to take the approach that every single game is a different time we deal with the present. as long as you're dealing with the present and you're looking forward, that's all I can ask from our football team. Our leadership is outstanding, our chemistry is outstanding and we will come to play and represent."