home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


November 30, 2014

Mark Dantonio

MARK DANTONIO:  Again, pretty much like I said last night, great execution by our football team yesterday, a big win, getting the 10th win, and I think the best thing to do is just take some questions.  I thought our guys played very well, handled some adversity in the first half, and got it done in the third quarter.
Obviously the biggest parts of the game were the things I talked about yesterday, the sudden change situations.  Defensively we were able to come up it; Trae Waynes pick was huge.  Michael Geiger's two field goals, the kickoff return to start the whole thing, and then the third quarter we came up with two touchdowns very, very quickly.

Q.  When you went back and looked at the tape, talk about the defensive backs in particular and kind of go over what you did with the rotation there with Darien and Demetrius and Tony and kind of what you see moving forward at that spot.
MARK DANTONIO:  Well, we started Tony Lippett at corner, and basically the thought process was that he would not take any reps away from his offensive end of things, that if he could play both sides, we would play him.  If there was three‑and‑outs, very quick things, that we would play him.  We also put him in on 3rd down situations, as well, periodically.  Demetrious Cox was our nickelback, so when we had five DBs in there, it would either be Darien Hicks or Tony Lippett playing.  But Demetrius played corner, as well.  I thought that was great for him, did a lot of plays for us.  And then Darien Hicks also played, and I thought Darien played well when he was in there.  You know, I think he got a sufficient number of reps, and well.  Tried to share the reps, so there was only one time in the game where Tony felt like he had to come out.  Other than that, he really played‑‑ when we said, okay, you've got to go this series, he played through the series, but I don't think it hindered his offensive production at all.  He had four catches, and I think he was a big part of our passing game.  I think he had four catches for 53 yards.  I thought he played very, very well on both sides of the ball.

Q.  Can you kind of let us know what your plan is for the next week or so?  How much time will you take off, and when might you start getting back to workouts and practice?
MARK DANTONIO:  Yeah, this is our last week of class this year, and next week is exam week.  We'll practice this next Saturday.  This will also be a contact period for recruiting, so we'll be out on the road recruiting actively, meeting with prospects, etcetera, and so we will lift and run on Tuesday and Thursday of this week.  Saturday we'll have a practice.  We'll have a team meeting on Friday.  If we do anything on Friday, it'll be light, and then Saturday we'll have a full practice followed by the basketball game, so we'll have recruits in, etcetera.  And then what we'll do is we'll have our banquet on Sunday and then give them the week off basically for exams, cut them loose for a week, which is also a recruiting week, and then bring‑‑ allow them to go home, and then bring them back for practices beginning on that following Tuesday.  I'm not sure of the date, but probably around the 16th.

Q.  James Kittredge is a guy who hasn't played at all.  Is there any chance that guy can appeal for another year of eligibility, or is James going to be done after this season?
MARK DANTONIO:  I think James will be done.  I think he'll be done this season.  He should graduate, and that'll probably be the end.  But he's got a knee injury, and I don't talk about injuries very much unless the guy has moved on.  I think we would be skeptical‑‑ he would be doubtful for the bowl game.  He may be able to, but he's got to practice before he can play, and he reinjured his PCL.  He tried to come back on it in the off week I think it was, and he sort of reinjured it, and so it set him back again.  So right now he's not been able to play.  That's where it's at right now, though.

Q.  Can you talk a little bit about not using Nick Hill yesterday?  Was it an injury situation or just simply the way the game was going and the way Jeremy was running?
MARK DANTONIO:  It was not an injury situation in Nick Hill.  As you look back at things you're always inclined to say what could we have done differently, and I think Nick should have played.  When you're the offensive coordinator you've got a lot of things going on up there, the way the game was rolling and everything, and a lot of times it became a passing game because of 3rd down issues.  But we went with Langford, and I think Nick should have played a little bit, but that's hindsight.  There's nothing wrong with Nick.  He's been a great contributor on our football team.  I wish we would have got him in there.  That would have been my decision, and I should have recognized that aspect of it.

Q.  I guess the silly season has kind of started where this is like an annual thing with Pat Narduzzi, I guess, and you know you've said in the past that it's a good problem for you to have when your assistant coaches are being wooed.  But how do you handle it when the rumors start?  Do the schools call you to interview Pat, or have you talked to Pat about whether he'll pursue any head coaching job?
MARK DANTONIO:  Yeah, we talk, Pat and I talk about those type of things, and also the school usually‑‑ I would say they call me or they call our athletic director, one of the two, and ask for permission to talk.  But there's not a problem at all.  I think that's a good thing as I've said before, and those are opportunities I hope that at some point in time I hope all of our coaches are considered for.

Q.  Kind of looking back at yesterday, you've brought up moving Lawrence Thomas around along the line from inside and outside.  Can you kind of go over what you saw on the tape with him at both positions, and kind of how you want to use him going into the bowl season?
MARK DANTONIO:  Well, Marcus Rush was nicked up throughout the week and didn't practice much, so Lawrence took all the reps at defensive end, and Malik McDowell was in and out on the defensive line position.  So as we moved into the game, we wanted to make sure that Malik was able to play, and that LT would get his opportunities to play at defensive end, which we thought he looked very good at.  It prepares us for the possibilities of next year, as well.
We wanted to take a look at that.  They also had a big offensive tackle in Donovan Smith at Penn State that we needed to have a big guy playing there, and LT goes about 280 now, about 285, he runs very well, and I think he played very effectively outside and he played also inside, and then he also played the nose tackle in our nickel package, as well, on our 30 package, as well.  He played a lot of snaps for us.
Also thought McDowell played well, along with obviously Marcus Rush had a big play in the game with the strip off the sack, causing the fumble.  So a huge play in the football game, and I thought he played well, as well.  I thought our entire front played very well.  You don't get that kind of yardage able to keep pressure on the quarterback, and I thought we hit the quarterback numerous times.  It's always an issue to affect the quarterback.  I thought our front seven played very well.
I thought our defense played very well, as I said yesterday.

Q.  Just to clarify on the Narduzzi thing, I know it's extremely, extremely early and we can't ask you this every time there's a rumor, but has Nebraska contacted you about Pat?
MARK DANTONIO:  No, they have not.  That's one I haven't heard, though.  I'll pass it around.

Q.  I'll follow up with a Michael Geiger question.  I know you said last night you were really pleased that Geiger hit his first two field goals.  We've seen him, I think, fall a little short from 45.  Hasn't his range been inside of 50, and do you think it's a weather thing as much as anything, or is it a leg strength thing?
MARK DANTONIO:  Well, I think his range was‑‑ has been inside of 50.  Yesterday going in that direction, it was about 45 or 47 is what we were told, but that last one was tipped.  When they came off the field, Mike Sadler told me he felt like that was tipped, and I think that took a little something off of it, or brushed, so I think that had a little something to do with that one.

Q.  Do you have a total snap count on Lippett yesterday?  Was he over 40?
MARK DANTONIO:  I do not have that because I've just sort of watched the tape on my own, and I wasn't counting.  But I would say it's over 40, easily over 40.  That's easily over 40 plays.

Q.  With you guys not having a championship game and more or less essentially having this week off, do you become a junkie kind of and start to watch some of those other games and just look at it more like, I guess, a fan in a way, or do you look at it objective as we could play some of these teams pretty quickly?
MARK DANTONIO:  Yeah, really I think the way we approach things right now is we've got a job to do, and we have to recruit.  Then we're going to have recruits in this next week and also practice, so it'll be about getting back to business.  I'm sure there's going to be games on that are going to be of interest, and we're going to watch to see if so‑and‑so beats so‑and‑so and watch parts of games, but I don't see myself sitting down and watching an entire football game.  I don't think that's the best use of time on that weekend.  But it's something that we want to try and be in certainly.  I don't see ourselves doing that, myself doing that.

Q.  How did you feel like your offensive line played?  I know you had to shuffle things around with Travis Jackson being out.  How would you say they graded out?
MARK DANTONIO:  I thought they played very well.  I thought that for the most part, we controlled the line of scrimmage up front, and I think Penn State has got an excellent defensive front seven, and they put a lot of guys in the box.  Initially we were able to run the ball pretty effectively on them and they got an additional guy in the box, which we had to throw the ball more effectively a little bit, which that came around in the third quarter.
But I thought they played very well.  When I watched the film, Donavon Clark looked good, Kodi Kieler, all of them, every one of them up there looked pretty good.  Obviously Conklin and Allen and Connor Kruse played very effectively, as well.  I don't think that Connor got a lot of pressure at times.  I think guys were covered down the field, and that created pressure for the quarterback.  I think it gave him coverage pressure as opposed to front seven pressure.  So I think we blocked them well, but hey, sometimes things aren't there and you've got to hold on to the ball longer, for a longer period of time.  You've got to be able to make something happen or move the pocket or whatever.  Sometimes things happen.
I thought they played extremely well, and at the end of the game, sort of took control of the game with two touchdowns in the third quarter and then one more in the fourth.  But early on played very, very well, as well.  Only one sack given up, and really that was a coverage sack, again, as I said.  It was not on the offensive front.  To give up 10 sacks in 12 games this year is really something special, and some of those sacks I know were coverage sacks, as well.

Q.  Looking back over the regular season now that it's over, 12 games, are you happy with how far Connor progressed?
MARK DANTONIO:  Am I happy with his progress?  Is that what you're asking?

Q.  Yes, sir, I am.
MARK DANTONIO:  Yeah, I think Connor Cook has won a lot of football games here.  As I said yesterday, as a program we're 15‑1 in the Big Ten and 23 out of 26, I guess, something like that, whatever we are.  So I think that he's going to have moments where there's coverage down the field or there's pressure.  There's going to be moments where he doesn't have the ideal play on it or a receiver is going to get loose.  It's going to cause anxiety in any quarterback.  I think what Connor does is deliver.  I think he has a way of settling down.  I thought in the second quarter he had some moments where he didn't play very well, but I thought in the third quarter he came back out and I thought he played very well, especially with the two throws, the one on 3rd down, 25‑yarder to Mumphery, and then the one to Macgarrett Kings down the chute.  I think coming back, run a 3rd down play and getting in the Lippett end zone for the touchdown after the fumble recovery, so I thought he played very well in that respect.  He ran the ball a couple times.  You know, when you're the quarterback, I think there's no set things that are going to be‑‑ nothing is ever going to be the same for you.  It's going to always change, whether it's the rush, whether he's got to move to the left or right or step up, whether it's a route down the field that changes, and the reads are going to be different at times, so there's a lot of things for him to juggle, so I think he's done an outstanding job, and he's our quarterback, we've won a ton of games with him, and if we're this successful the next two years, we would be‑‑ it would be two more very special seasons.
I don't know if I'm answering it.  I've seen him play better, but you know, he's MVP of the Rose Bowl and MVP of the championship game, and didn't miss a beat.

Q.  You talked last night about the 10 wins and the consistency over the last four or five years is pretty much unparalleled, certainly in the Big Ten.  As far as this season goes, just specifically this season, what are you most proud of what your team was able to do from maybe the start to the finish of the regular season?
MARK DANTONIO:  I think the thing we're most proud of here is the ability to finish.  You know, when things crumble down around you, as they could have after the Oregon game or they could have after the Ohio State game, the ability to get back up and play through the adversity and through the controversy when the social media and everything else is sort of standing on its ear a little bit, and people are sometimes critical, I understand that, that's part of it, but to be able to continue to play through that and come out of every single game and have their energy and their focus every single game.  It doesn't mean we're going to not make a mistake.  Mistakes are going to be made.  That's football.  But every single game we came out focused, our adrenaline was right, our energy was right, and we played through the smoke, and that's the biggest thing that I'm proud of.  It's not always the success that you have but how you handle the success and how you handle the failures, and I think that's part of growth, and at the end of the day, for our football team, at the end of the day, college football is about growth in individuals, and I see people like Jeremy Langford growing from when he was a freshman until now when he's a senior.  I gave him the game ball last night, which I very rarely give out a game ball.  That's because of the consistency and maturity that he's been able to attain over these last five years.

Q.  Moving into bowl season, heading towards wherever you guys land, do you have maybe a couple guys that might stand out that maybe haven't been used as much yet this year that you kind of want to see and see if they can't make an impact when it comes time for that game?
MARK DANTONIO:  You know, I'm sure that there's going to be some guys that come to the surface in that area.  You know, I can't really think of anybody we've used.  We've played a lot of guys.  I can't really think of anybody, but there's going to be somebody that's going to feel like they're playing healthy at defensive end is a positive.  But I can't think of anybody.  Certainly we're not going to take a red shirt off anybody, but there's certain guys that may play in there in different situations.  That probably depends who we play and what the structure is of that offense or defense.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297