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September 21, 2013

Mark Dantonio

Notre Dame – 17
Michigan State – 13

COACH DANTONIO:  Great football game, first of all.  I thought very well‑played football game in terms of intensity and enthusiasm.  Great crowd.  All the different things you expect in a rivalry game like this.  I want to congratulate Notre Dame in that aspect.
As far as Michigan State is concerned, get down in the red zone, you got to score touchdowns.  Fact of the matter is they did not turn the ball over, we had to come up with turnovers.  Had one off the PI but they didn't turn it over.
Ran the ball effectively.  Had our opportunities in the red zone.  Kicked a couple field goals, missed one.  You got to score touchdowns in those situations.
Very proud of our football team.  Thought we played hard.  Thought we had an opportunity to win the football game.  Left some questions on the field obviously.  But nevertheless, very proud of our football team.
We did what we had to do in terms of defensively I felt we played the ball the way we teach them to play the ball.  That's how they played the ball.  Beyond that, I'm not going to have any comments on.  That's for other people to comment on in private.
But I'll just take some questions.  That's probably the best way to do this.

Q.  Went with the pass that got intercepted, came back and went a different direction.  Talk about the play call with the Shelton pass.
COACH DANTONIO:  Yeah, R.J.'s deal was my call.  I made the suggestion on that one because I felt like we needed a big play.  He's got a great arm on him.  The guy was covered.  Probably should have just pulled it down and ran.
So that's my call.  I'll take responsibility for that.  But I felt like we needed a big play.  We did drive it down the field.  I guess a little lost in terms of what came first.  We drove it down the field the first time, second half right out of the box there.  Had to come up with a field goal.
The problematic thing is that we've got to score in the red zone, got to score touchdowns.  You have opportunities to do that, but you're talking about inches at times.  That's the thing that bit us last year.  That's the thing we have to get past.
Thought Connor Cook did some good things, but like a young quarterback probably wishes he had a couple back.  Thought we ran the ball effectively.  That was a positive thing.  Langford and Nick Hill did a nice job.  Those are two positive things.
Didn't really turn it over with the exception of one turnover on the interception that you were talking about.

Q.  Did you ever have that many defensive pass interference calls on you in one game?
COACH DANTONIO:  I've been coaching 30 plus years.  No, never.  I guess that's why we should stop talking about it right there.

Q.  On the opening drive, punt block, missed the field goal.  Do you think if you punched in there, it could have been a different game?
COACH DANTONIO:  Got down there three times, missed one field goal, kicked two others, scored a touchdown the fourth time.  Obviously, yeah, if you get it in, 17‑13, 17 points aren't going to win you many games, 13 is not for sure.
Credit Notre Dame's defense some.  But we've got to score more points.  We drove the ball.  I thought we controlled the ball pretty well there, especially coming out the second half.  A number of times ran the ball effectively down the field.  We get a bad play.  Next thing you know, it's second‑and‑10.  Caught a couple penalties on offense as well.
Got to be able to handle those things and play through the adversity.  That's what we have to be able to do.  We'll do that.
The thing I'll focus on with our football team in the locker room, regardless of winning or losing, everybody wants to win it badly, got a lot of guys hurting in there, it's non‑conference game, week off, then get ready for Iowa next week.  It's a Big Ten game.
Using this as an opportunity to play away from home in a great environment much like we'll see in the Big Ten.  Prepares us for that aspect of it.  Prepares Connor Cook for that aspect and it also prepares some of our other young players for it as well.

Q.  You put Maxwell in at the end.  Was that a Connor Cook injury?
COACH DANTONIO:  I think we put him in there just to try to change the pace.  Felt like he needed an opportunity, should give him an opportunity.
Tough situation to put him in at.  I felt like he was a little behind on some throws, needed to mix it up and see what he could do.  Obviously didn't work out.  Hindsight is 50/50, whatever you say, 20/20, 50/50.  That's more like PI's, 50/50.

Q.  Michael Geiger, you put him in there, kicked a 42‑yarder into the wind.  Will he be the kicker moving forward?
COACH DANTONIO:  Right now he's the kicker.  You don't put him in against Notre Dame unless he's the kicker.  Took the redshirt off him, he's the kicker.
He's shown great promise throughout summer camp.  Obviously wasn't perfect in that, but it's his time now.  He needs to grow up kick.

Q.  Jeremy Langford was looking to have some success today.  Can you talk about what you were looking to get out of your runningbacks today, why Nick Hill and Shelton came in.
COACH DANTONIO:  Shelton played wide receiver.  He played wideout.  R.J. was not there to run the ball.
Nick Hill, Jeremy Langford by committee a little bit.  We played Riley a couple snaps in theres as well.
I thought Jeremy ran the ball well, almost busted a couple.  Nicked up a little bit throughout the game as well.  Hill did some things as well, moving the pile a little bit.
Nothing negative there in respects to that.  But I thought they did a good job.  Ran the ball for, what is it, 119 yards or so.  We ran the ball effectively.  Enough?  No.  Nothing is enough.  When you look at the yardage, total yards we have 254, they have 224.  That would suggest a lot of defense, okay?
Just keep working.  Don't have an answer for you on that one.  I thought he played pretty well.  I thought Nick played pretty well.  I don't think Jeremy is a guy we can give the ball to 30 times, not right now.

Q.  Do you feel like you outplayed Notre Dame today, especially in the second half?
COACH DANTONIO:  Obviously not.  The scoreboard, we ended up losing.  They did the things they had to at the end of the game to win the football game.
Very proud of our football team in how we came out and played.  Wish we had some plays back and some situations back obviously.  But proud of our football team.
Obviously Notre Dame won the football game, so you have to say they outplayed us.

Q.  One nice grab by Lyles, otherwise the tight end wasn't a factor.  Something they were doing that took him out of the game or not part of the plan?
COACH DANTONIO:  Not part of the plan.  We probably didn't get loose or whatever.  Tough for me to say without seeing film and things of that nature.
But great catch by Jamal.  They're in the route progression, they're in the read.  Got to get open or whatever.  Had a lot of things going to Macgarrett Kings a little bit.  Proven to be a go‑to guy for us.  Made a great catch.  Almost came up with another great catch in the end zone.
Our tight ends will get busy by design.  They always have been.  Just continue to work it.  But they're young players there, too, with Jamal Lyles and Josiah Price, those guys are young players.

Q.  Not talking about any specific play with the pass interferences, but as you understand it, what is the cornerback allowed to do?  What's the interpretation of what you can have them do?
COACH DANTONIO:  Cut off the receiver, have position for the ball, go up and make a play on the ball.  He has every right to make a play on the ball.  There's bumping and pushing on both sides a lot of times.  But you're going up for a football.  A lot of times to me, unless you want to get into a clinic here, which we don't need to, they're very close calls.  I'm in agreement with that, they're close calls.
They have a right to the ball.  They can play the ball out of phase without looking through it.  Swat the ball down.  I don't know.  There are no video displays out there on that field.  I can't see what's going on.  You have a much better shot up in the box than I would have had.  We'll let that issue take its own course.  You guys are all well‑written.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH DANTONIO:  No.  It does not feel the same.  I don't know how it feels.  You lose a close game, it's tough.
Last year against Notre Dame I felt like we were completely outplayed.  Defensively played pretty well, but we were completely outplayed.  Couldn't move the ball.  It sort of became a 14‑3, 17‑3, 20‑3 type thing.  Got away from us.
I felt like this time we were right down to the end.  I thought we competed and played right through it.  I thought there was a lot of motion on our sidelines.  I think we played to win.  I'll never apologize to play to win.  That's what we try and do at all times.  I'm extremely proud of our football team.
But at the end of the day they do keep score.  So we got to deal with it.  We just got to deal with it.  That's part of growing up, too.  That's part of trying to be mature about everything we deal with.
In the end it will help us.  In the end we'll find our way through all this.  I'm looking forward to playing Iowa in a couple weeks.
Thank you.

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