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November 16, 2014

Mark Dantonio

COACH DANTONIO:¬† Great win for our football team.¬† As we move forward, looking forward to the challenge coming this next weekend.¬† Obviously as I said last night, our defense blade extremely well coming up with really four turnoversthat ‑‑ three very meaningful turnovers.¬† Played extremely well on third down as well and got off the field.
On the offensive side of the ball, ran the ball very effectively, especially in the second half.  Sort of took over the game in the second half, but especially in the fourth quarter with two scores, two big runs.
But played well.  No turnovers.  Once again, I thought special teams, field goals, kicking first three field goals for a guy who is big, Mike Sadler flipped the field a couple times with long punts.
Shore up our kickoff team a little bit, but all in all I think a solid performance.  Based on everything I said last night, I'll just take questions.

Q.  Coach, could you update us on Travis Jackson?  I watched the replay of the game; it didn't appear like he got hurt on that particular series, but it's been reported you did some sideline testing for a concussion.
COACH DANTONIO:¬† Yeah, they felt like he is disoriented, so it was our doctors ‑‑ actually the referees brought it to our attention; our doctor's decision to keep him out the rest of the game.
We'll see how he is.

Q.  Quick question:  When you watch Connor throw, he seems to be careful on putting weight on the left foot.  He's also jumping up and down more so than applying weight.  I'm curious on the condition of his left posterior cruciate ligament in his knee.  Is there any damage or tears or any problems with that?
COACH DANTONIO:  No, not that I know of.

Q.  You kind of touched on the kickoff unit.  Can you talk a little bit about that?  I mean, field position, looks like you guys are about five yards more per game for the opponent's starting position from last year.  How much of a difference is that making do you think right now?
COACH DANTONIO:  I think it makes a huge difference.  You know, starting position, we did not play well on our kickoff team yesterday.  Thought they did some things that created a sort of softness.
No.4 did a nice job on the returns, but we did have one tackle inside the 20.  But too much yardage on really three of 'em.

Q.  Go back to the illegal formation penalty.  I'm curious about it.  Different situations?  What's happening in those?
COACH DANTONIO:  Well, in both situations we were in unbalanced sets, which creates a situation where the wide receiver has to be on the line of scrimmage.
In both cases it was a different wide receiver.  Both of them were off the line of scrimmage.
You know it's an unforced errors and a lack of attention to detail, and something that we need to address.  Which we do address, but it's a mental error.

Q.  Wanted to ask you about Malik McDowell.  I am just wondering about his progress, if you're continuing to see the things you need to out of him the last couple weeks?
COACH DANTONIO:  Yeah, Malik played about 22, 23 plays yesterday, so about a third of the time.  You know, he's a true freshman.  To play that much as a true freshman in this defense shows he's making tremendous strides.
He can really be a dominate football player.  What he has to do is get consistency in terms of being at the right place, operating within the scheme of the defense, be in the right gap, those type of things.
But he's about 307 pounds now, and certainly is a force when he decides‑‑ when he's in the right place and he decides to play with the exact, correct technique, he can be a force.¬† He'll be an outstanding player for us.
He'll continue to come, and I thought he had a good game yesterday.

Q.  I asked this question last week.  I know it's a scheme thing, but what are teams doing differently now that you guys have abandoned the Jets sweep?  It was such a big part of your offense earlier.  Are teams playing you differently now?
COACH DANTONIO:  I think every football team that we play brings a different defense to the table.  Sometimes certain things are there; sometimes they take certain things away.  Those things are read sometimes.  You know, it's a weak read, so there is decisions to be made.
But every week we go to a game plan and we decide what is the best thing to use.¬† You need to keep people off base and not stay‑‑ you know, not do the same thing over and over and over again.
But I know it was a good play for us in the past; it'll show up at some point in time again.  Really depends on how defense defends that particular play and other particular plays what we're going to come to.
So we'll always watch and see how people line up their defense.

Q.  I was going to ask you about Riley Bullough.  Stats may not have shown it, but he was involved in seemed like a lot of plays and around the ball quite a bit yesterday.  What did you see when you graded out the tape?
COACH DANTONIO:¬† Yeah, Riley played well, I thought, especially pass‑rush situations I thought he played well.¬† He did not turn their protection to him, so a lot of times he was sort of left either on a back or on the edge completely free really.
But he put pressure on the quarterback.  Hit the quarterback probably 15 or 16 times last night, so that was very positive for us defensively as well.  I think that led to a lot of things.
They only rushed for‑‑ they ran the ball unsuccessfully.¬† Obviously a big part of the game.

Q.  I wanted to ask you about Tony Lippett.  He stayed on the tour for an extended amount of time once, and his numbers keep going down.  Can you address what's going on with Tony and his condition.
COACH DANTONIO:¬† I think as far as the numbers, you know, it's a two‑way ‑‑ there is more than him just involved in that.¬† There is the quarterback, the decision to go to him.¬† There is pass protection situations in the game.¬† He's all good to go.
He had some big catches last night.  Had a big catch on a dig route.  Stayed down momentarily because of a minor injury I guess you would say, but he returned to the football game.

Q.  Delton Williams, seems like we saw him a little bit more early last night.  It is a conscious effort to try and get him involved in games earlier now as we go through the last couple here?

Q.  Delton Williams.
COACH DANTONIO:  Yeah, it is.  He's a good football player.  We need to continue to try and get him involved early.  Nick Hill is also a guy that's the same type of situation.  Delton does a nice job, pass protection, some different things.
We're just trying to use different people a little bit and try and get them rolling.  We usually always use the hot back.  We need to continue to, I guess, build depth.
We've got good depth there, but continue to allow that depth to flourish at that position.  They played well last night.
I thought Macgarrett Kings Keith Mumphery and Burbridge all were extremely productive as well.

Q.  I was going to ask you last week about your proclamation about you kind of put your whole program's reputation on the line in the press conference when you said how you responded would be a reflection of the leadership from the top on down and the foundation.  If you guys lose that game, that doesn't look so good.  What made you so confident to make that kind of statement going into that game?
COACH DANTONIO:  Well, I just think that, you know, I believe in that actually.  I just believe that it starts with your leadership.  It's going to start with me and permeate down through our coaches, seniors, and down through our younger players.
It's how we practice.  If we handle adversity, it's going to really define all of us.  That's one of the foundations for this program.
You know, with yesterday's win, now we've won fifty games in five years.  That's averaging ten games a year.  That's before that's last couple games.
But I think it's defined in terms of how we get back off the mat or however you want to say it.  Respond to the adversity situations.  That's how it's truly defined.  I think we've done a good job with that.
Starts because of the chemistry of our football team, chemistry among our coaches, and the leadership on the team, but most importantly ground level, which is our senior leadership.
Because we're going to‑‑ there will be times we don't play our best games.¬† That happens probably a lot of times.¬† You don't play exactly a perfect game, but somewhere in the midst of all that you got to find yourself.¬† I think that important.
To sit there and say that last week probably was ‑‑ you know, after a disappointing situation‑‑ probably was the direction that we were going to go.
So I really didn't think I was taking a big risk with it because I thought we would respond.
Proclamation is a nice word.

Q.  Could you comment on Macgarrett?  Are you happy where they are at right now?  Where do you want to see them improve as you come down the home stretch?
COACH DANTONIO:  We got a lot of situations around the 50 yard lines where we were in more safe situations defending up against a fake, et cetera.
Our goal in the punting game has always been make sure that we get the ball back.  So no penalties, no fakes, make sure we secure the catch, and then build on it from there.
I think Macgarrett is a weapon.  We certainly have to provide him a little bit of an opening to get north, get forward.
I think he had that yesterday on one occasion and had some positive yards.  For the most part some punts were flat by the opposing teams, and there were not a lot of opportunities to return them.

Q.  I know your team is consistently evolving.  There are only two regular season games left.  What do you want to see Michigan State do better these last two games?
COACH DANTONIO:  You know, I think when you look at us right now, we've had glimpses of a lot of great things.  But to sit there and say we played a complete football game yet, I don't know that we have.  Where offensively we were extremely productive, defensively extremely productive, and special teams extremely productive.
Now, I don't know how many times that exists anywhere really.  There is always going to be mistakes and you have to overcome those mistakes.  If you look down who we played and what we've done, there is a reason we've won.  We have a good football team.
But we played a three quarters and six minutes very, very well against Nebraska, but there are just certain times that we've not put together a complete football team, offense, defense, and special teams.
We're always chasing excellence like I say here.  Wish would've come in at the most perfect time, but we played well.  We've done some things extremely effectively, and we have a good football team.
I think that bears out based on some of the players that we have and some of the things that we've recognized in terms this is the first time this has happened or the most points or all these ‑‑ the most road wins in the Big 10 and those type of things.
But at the same time, we have not matched perfection yet, and I think we chase that.
THE MODERATOR anything else for coach?  Time for one or two more.  You guys going to let us off easy tonight.  Appreciate it.  Thanks.  See you guys on Tuesday.

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