Mark Dantonio wasn’t willing to reveal Michigan State’s quarterback plans for Saturday’s noon game against South Florida.
The Spartan coach did say the players catching passes from whoever the quarterback is will be challenged in practices this week. MSU’s receivers struggled with dropped passes last season, and that again was the case in Friday’s 26-13 victory over Western Michigan.
“We ask our players to play with great effort and great toughness. Part of that was missing I felt on Friday night by that group and we will challenge them this week,” Dantonio said of his receivers during his Sunday evening teleconference. “We need to create more plays down the field whether that’s catching the ball or moving with it or getting loose down the field.
“We can play better. We will play better. I was disappointed in the outcome as well as everyone else. Some catches were tough catches to make, other catches were defended somewhat. They need to do a better job of separation or route running and quite frankly there were a number of them that were dropped. I call it as I see it, and our players understand that they need to play better as well. I’m sure that they recognize that fact as well.”
Dantonio added he still views redshirt freshman Riley Bullough as a starter at running back, but that he needs to look more like a running back.
“He’s got to run like a tailback,” Dantonio said. “He’s got to cut, he’s got to burst, he’s got to explode like a tailback. We need to see evidence of that as every game moves forward.”
Other things to come out of the teleconference.
* Dantonio thought redshirt freshman Jack Conklin played well on the offensive line in his debut.
* Dantonio said he thought Nick Hill deserved a chance to play and show what he had. “I felt like it was important to give him an opportunity because he played last year. Nick Hill went in there and did a nice job. We’re always going to ride the hot backs so when you get in there you’ve got to make something happen with it.”
* Dantonio said his tailbacks need to make plays in space. “They’ve got to make those three and four yard plays become 10 and 15 and 20 yards gained or farther, which they’re capable of.”
* Dantonio said Isaiah Lewis’ injury was more of a muscular thing and that he anticipates that he’ll be full go this week.
* Dantonio on decision to play true freshman corner Darian Hicks: “We felt like he had a great summer camp. He’s explosive, he can run and jump, he’s got great ball skills, he’s proved to be a very fast learner and showed toughness. … He has excellent skills. The feeling was he deserved an opportunity to play. He was on the first kickoff team because of what he’s done. That was a decision we made as a defensive staff.
* Dantonio on if any other freshmen would play: “We’re going to play people now that give us the best opportunity to win at all positions. It doesn’t mean everybody is in agreement whether you’re inside or whether you’re outside the program. But we’re going to do everything we can to put the best players on the field. Too early to tell right now how many freshmen we would play or if we would play any more freshmen. I do think there is some very talented freshmen involved there but its big change going and playing in a college football game.”