It’s Michigan week and Mark Dantonio is serving as the spokesperson for his program with the media not having access to any players.
Dantonio officially kicked off Michigan week with today’s press conference and there were a lot of interesting tidbits and comments.
After being down in Ann Arbor on Monday for Brady Hoke’s weekly press conference, its clear the two coaches tackle the rivalry in different ways (Graham Couch will have more about that this week).
Dantonio has always embraced it and had this to say about the different ways he and Hoke approach it:
“Just people take a different view of different things. Maybe it’s depending where you’re at at the time. My background, my coaching background, brought me in here ’95 with Coach Saban. So we experienced some things back then. I guess it is as it is sometimes.
“I’ve never made the rules here. Just playing the game. So if you follow my drift, I’ve never made the rules here,” Dantonio said. “These rules were established a long time ago. I’m just playing the game. I’m just involved in the rivalry. I’m just a small little player in that rivalry.”
Dantonio went on to add that they have always made the Michigan game the most important and said he had great respect on how Hoke handles himself in regards to the rivalry.
“To be honest with you, I think Brady Hoke handles himself at times much better than I do,” Dantonio said. ‘”I have a great respect in how he handles his job, how he’s gone about his business there. I just go about mine and hope that other guy doesn’t come out in this press conference.”
As far as Saturday’s game against the No. 23 Wolverines, Dantonio believes it provides a good chance to get back in the thick of the Legends Division race. Michigan and Iowa are both 2-0 in Big Ten play and Nebraska is 2-1. MSU is currently fifth in the division at 1-2. But it has a head-to-head meeting with Nebraska coming up in a few weeks.
“(We have) very, very small margin of error and we need help as we move through this. Usually you get help. The conference itself is very competitive. There’s a lot of parity,” Dantonio said. “I think there’s a lot of opportunity for players to play well and teams to rise up and win against anybody really.
“So we just got to play them one at a time and focus on the present. That’s all I can tell you. I do think if we take care of our business, we’ve got opportunities ahead of us. But we need to take care of our business first.”
Taking care of their business begins on Saturday in Ann Arbor. Dantonio believes a win in Ann Arbor could be something this team needs to gain some momentum going forward.
“I think it can be a defining moment for us. I think it could be a rallying point or a moment where we can start going in the other direction,” Dantonio said. “But I think any football game, I think this last football game we played, could have been that moment as well. When you lose close like that, like I said opening this up, there are many different things you can point to and say, If we would have done this, if this would have happened, if that were called one way or the other, those type of things.”
Dantonio also addressed the scoring issues for the offense. MSU ranks near the bottom of the Big Ten in scoring offense and Dantonio obviously would like to see the team score more. But he also doesn’t want the offense / defense splitting the football team.
“The reality of the situation, we have three players on offense that played last year on a constant basis for us, whether it be injuries, graduation, whatever it is. We have Dan France, Chris McDonald, Le’Veon Bell playing for us. The rest of our guys are new. They’re gaining experience as we go,” Dantonio said.
“The most important thing is we don’t split this football team into offense and defense. Our defense had an opportunity to win a football game this past weekend, played well throughout the game, but we didn’t win the football with the fourth quarter drive.”
There was plenty of other good info to come out of today’s presser. As far as depth chart news there’s the following:
- Dion Sims is not listed at tight end. It’s still the combination of Paul Lang, Ann Arbor native Andrew Gleichert and Derek Hoebing at the position. Dantonio said Sims hadn’t practiced and they will know more about his status for Saturday’s game later in the week.
- At STAR linebacker it’s Chris Norman OR Taiwan Jones. Jones had a pretty big game on Saturday against Iowa.
- Kurtis Drummond is the guy at free safety this week. He is listed ahead of RJ Williamson.
- At fullback it’s Lawrence Thomas or Niko Palazeti listed as the starter.
- Then there’s Jack Allen who has listed as the starter at left guard with Blake Treadwell and as the starter at center with Ethan Ruhland.
Then here are some links. Solari takes a look at five things we learned from the Iowa game. Something that he notes is that the Spartans haven’t had a .500 record since the 2009 season.
And Michigan isn’t publicly acknowledging that their four-game losing streak to the Spartans is a primary focus. The players that spoke Monday said they were more so focused on the future instead of the past. Also Dion Sims is a semifinalist for the Mackey Award.
When asked if he feels pressure to reverse the rivalry, Hoke said no.
“Just got to go out and play,” Hoke said. “We got to prepare them from Sunday to Friday and get them ready to play.”
Lastly, CBSSports.com has revealed its midseason All-America and All-Conference teams. No Spartans made it as All-Americans, but running back Le’Veon Bell, tight end Dion Sims and safety Isaiah Lewis were listed as midseason All-Big Ten selections. The writer also labels William Gholston as the most disappointing player.
And here is a video of former Spartan basketball star Draymond Green sings Lean on Me during Golden State Warriors rookie initiation.