Outback Bowl Update: Head Coaches Press Conference
 
 
 
MSU head coach Mark Dantonio, along with Georgia head coach Mark Richt, held a joint press conference Wednesday in Tampa.
 
MSU head coach Mark Dantonio, along with Georgia head coach Mark Richt, held a joint press conference Wednesday in Tampa.
 
 

Dec. 28, 2011

Press Conference | Spartans Visit Busch Gardens | Day 3 Photo Gallery | Bowl Central

TAMPA, Fla. - Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio and Georgia head coach Mark Richt held a joint press conference Wednesday at the Wyndham Tampa Westshore Hotel to preview the upcoming 2012 Outback Bowl on Monday, Jan. 2.

Dantonio talked about the challenge of playing a 14-game schedule for the first time in school history, his philosophy on the preparation for this year's bowl game, and why it's important to send the senior class out as winners.

Following MSU's third bowl practice at Jesuit High School, the team visited Busch Gardens Theme Park in Tampa.

Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio:

Opening statement...
We're excited to be here. We'll start our second (full) practice today. We had a great practice yesterday as well. We'll go today until around one o'clock. It will be our second day in pads. Again, the same things we're looking at; how we're practicing, how we're moving around. Are we going to have energy or not, that's a choice we make every single day we come out there. We try to put an emphasis on that, just try to be prepared. We're playing an outstanding opponent. We have a great challenge ahead of us, at the same time, it's important for our players to finish. That's what we're trying to do to the best of our abilities. The people have been unbelievable here at this bowl game in terms of just any kind of thing that we need, from a cooperation standpoint trying to make it a little easier for us at each step. We appreciate everybody's hospitality.

On a concern for playing 14 games this season...
It was a long season for us playing 14 games. We had a bye week in there. That's why we took two weeks and didn't do anything. We had one week after the championship game and then we had exam week and then we went back to work and then had vacation, so I think we're rested. We've put everything behind us and we're looking forward. That's what we've been able to do as a football program really since we've been there, we've always been able to look forward and bring some energy to the game. I'm quite sure that's going to happen for our football team. I continue to say we've got great leadership. Ground level, our players understand what they have to do in terms of just the energy that they have to bring in that leadership capacity. I'm not concerned about that.

On whether he's worried about having too much time to prepare...
I think both teams have an opportunity to change things. We do what we do. You study what you have to study. You study the players, you study what they do. You look at your own football team and ask how you can make it better, how you can assess what you've already done. You've had time to do that but at the same time you're still trying to recruit, still trying to squeeze some Christmas in there, do different things, so it's challenging. The big thing is, as we talked about early on, bring energy to the football game. At the end of the day, players play and coaches coach, but you have to have enthusiasm on both sides, players and coaches.

On how changes in the media have affected coaching:
I would say certainly things have changed. I've been a head coach now for eight years and things have certainly changed since that time; that short a span. You see a change, I think, for the better. In a lot of cases you deal with a lot of things like coach just said. This is the information age I guess you can say. Whether it was Facebook initially, or now it's Twitter, everybody's got a Twitter account. You wondering why does he had a Twitter account? Who really cares? But the information gets out there. Again, we have to monitor that as well. In some respects you're held accountable, sad to say. You're held accountable for what they say. That's the world we live in right now, and you have to deal with it, it's part of the process.

On how much leeway quarterback Kirk Cousins has to change plays...
Our quarterback has free reign to do that. He's been a three-year starter so he gets in and out of things. There are certain things we call that are going to go, obviously. He's got freedom out there. Part of being a good coach is being a good listener. So we want to try and listen to ideas he has as he moves forward too. When you have a great deal of respect and confidence in a young man you turn him loose.

On Michigan State's drought winning bowl games...
I think that's something we've experienced. We hadn't talked about it as much. I talked about it a little bit yesterday just in terms of how you feel as a coach addressing your football team after a loss, when you're looking at your seniors and it's their last football game, they're taking off that uniform for the last time. It's more about how you feel after the game. It's more about us all experiencing that and understanding what it's going to take to rectify that situation. With that being said, I think we've played some outstanding football teams in that period of four years. You come to a game like this you're going to play someone good, that's just a fact.

Georgia head coach Mark Richt:

Opening statement...
It's good to be here today. We actually got our practice done today. We had our second day in full pads. I thought the energy was very good. That's one of the things I judge a lot or try to make a decision on what kind of energy we had or what kind of pace we went through everything. I thought the guys were in good spirits. I thought we did very well against each other in our competitive drills. I like how things are going. Sometimes you go to a bowl and you start out a little sluggish. Sometimes guys got an excuse why they can't go and all that kind of thing, but we haven't had any of that at all. Today everybody went full speed and looked good.

On what he can take away from playing Michigan State three years ago...
We had an awful lot of respect then, we have the same respect now. Defensively, there's a lot of similarities as far as scheme is concerned. We've watched that film, we wanted to make sure we reviewed it. The thing I noticed when I watched that film is the players we had on offense, a lot of those guys ended up in the NFL. A couple of them that were freshman linemen, but Cordy Glenn, Ben Jones and even Justin Anderson, I think all of them are going to end up in the NFL as well. It was like, nine or 10 out of 11 guys are going to end up the in league, either are there or going to end up there. So I'm like, gosh, are we as good as we were back then? So that's going to be a big question. Michigan State is a very well-coached football team. When you watch film, you can tell in a heartbeat just how people line up, how they get in their stance, whether its offense or defense. Offensively, they're shifting and going in motion, you can tell if they're polished, and they are. You add the fact that you've got a veteran quarterback, veteran receivers, guys that have been making plays their whole career, and big, strong defensive players that get after you. It's going to be a heck of a ballgame.

On how Aaron Murray and Orson Charles are handling being at home...
Both of those guys are pretty happy guys. Usually when you see them they're in a good mood or they're smiling. Orson is beaming; he just can't hardly believe he's in town I guess. He says it just about every day, he's like, `Hey, we're in Tampa you know' and I'm like, `Okay, I know we're in Tampa.' Orson is very excited, and I know Aaron is too. Those guys love the fact that all their family and friends will be around. I think Orson said it was like six miles from the hotel, so they're excited.

On how much leeway quarterback Aaron Murray has to change plays...
Aaron has a lot of freedom as well. Not many people nowadays just say we're going to run this and run it no matter what. I think most everybody's got something tied in where you go from one side of the line to the other or maybe throw a quick screen tied into it or something like that. So there are a lot of decisions that have to be made and there's also a lot of identification of defenses that a quarterback has to communicate on an every play basis. We do a lot of audibling where actually coach Bobo will get an opportunity to try to make changes from the sideline here and there. We've done that this year really for the first time ever. Aaron knows what's going on, he' handles all those things well, and he certainly is allowed freedom.

On the emergence of tailback Ken Malcome...
I think he got in the game and made a couple of plays. I think that, more than anything, probably helped his confidence and maybe helped our confidence in him a little bit. But he's got a ways way to go, they all do.

On how last year's bowl game shaped how they prepare for the Outback Bowl...
I don't think anybody enjoyed the last bowl game for us. You talk about energy, there wasn't a whole lot of it. They played harder than us, they played better than us, they played more physical than us, they deserved to win the game that day, there's no question about that. I think our players understood why they won and why we didn't. I think that was probably more valuable in our offseason than maybe it is this week. I don't think we're thinking too much about it right now. But we thought about it a lot when we started our offseason and I thought we didn't want to go through that again. I really hadn't thought much about last year's bowl game recently, but it certainly was something that jumpstarted our offseason.