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


December 27, 2017

Mark Dantonio

San Diego, California

MARK DANTONIO: Thank you very much. I would like to echo had a great experience here at the Holiday Bowl and I would like to thank them personally and the program for everything they have done for us. I think it's 1 degree back home today and glad to be out here and we're motivated to play a good football game. I'll take questions.

Q. Mark, the chance to get to ten wins is something you have preached quite a bit. In the last few days how have you tried to get your guys focused on that?
MARK DANTONIO: I think every time you have an opportunity to play a football game you've got to be ready and you've got to be fresh and your mindset has to be correct, so we have to make sure that is in place. The opportunity to get ten, whether it is us or Washington State puts us in a double digit-type win category, both football teams, and not too many football teams in the country can do that on a yearly basis. That's our goal. That's our goal as we came out here was to play our best football and move it forward.

Q. Mark, we have talked about the senior class. Last night they go through their last practice. I know a lot of them posted stuff about how emotional that was for them. What has that meant to the program?
MARK DANTONIO: I think any time you take the jersey off for the last time or practice with your teammates you start to go through emotions, you've got to get closure. We try to make that special for them at the end of our practice and it becomes an emotional experience for some of our guys. Those guys have been -- the playoff game, had some great moments here and we're just looking for another life moment for them.

Q. Coach, you've been able to coach talented quarterbacks in Connor Cook and Kirk Cousins. How does Brian Lewerke compare to those players?
MARK DANTONIO: Brian is a sophomore, so we have a young football team, much like Washington State. So I think for the future of the entire football program, both programs look pretty bright. Brian is a guy that can create in the pocket. He's got the ability to recognize things quickly and get the ball out quickly. He's got a strong arm. There are a lot of similarities between Hoyer, Cousins, Cook a little bit with him. But he is his own guy a little bit, too, so the fact that he can create and has run for 540 yards net is a big positive. We have not had that with our quarterback situation in the past, but he can throw it.

Q. With all the youth on the team this year, how much different has this bowl experience been for these guys, a first for a lot of the guys?
MARK DANTONIO: It's been different, an initial bowl experience for our freshmen and last year's freshman which makes up 53 players on our team. That's been a positive. I think our players are excited about everything. Everything is a new experience for these guys and you have half of the team leading them because they've been to the Rose Bowl or a Cotton Bowl or two.

There are some positives on both ends there, and we have had a great experience and we've done what we needed to do leading up to this football team and now we have to close. To me, closing is playing your very best. Doesn't mean you're going to win but playing your very best.

Q. Coach, you were a defensive back in your playing career. What have you seen from Alex Grinch and his secondary, top-15 in a lot of categories this season?
MARK DANTONIO: I think what gets lost in the shuffle a little bit is how good Washington State's defense is, 15th in total defense, No. 1 on third down in the country in third down defense and they get on you, they play you tight, they provide pressure. A lot of different pressure, a lot of different people running from different places and you've got to beat them. So we've got to make plays on 50/50 balls much like they do. You've got to put the ball in the vicinity and the receiver has to make the tough catch and that run after catch is very important as well, so we've got to limit it on our defensive side and be able to exploit it on our offense.

Q. Mark, they're talented but when they have lost is it because they have been forced in pressure to get the quarterback off high center? For you is that the biggest key defensively to this game is getting him to move?
MARK DANTONIO: When you talk critical to winning, you're always talking about protecting our quarterback and pressuring third down that's the name of the game in college football and pro football as well as, get him off his dime, his landmark and good things happen with the defense and if he's able to throw with time bad things happen for our defense.

That usually leads to turnovers or sacks, which takes -- that's always a key in every football game, I think, they have an outstanding quarterback. I don't know how many records he has broken in the Pac-12. You go back a lot of years, a lot of great players. I think what they do is cutting edge conceptually, so we are going to have to play well and play up here. They are going to have to play fast, but play with their minds as well.

Q. Mark, how familiar are you with the air raid offense and what kind of challenges does this present to you in this game coming up?
MARK DANTONIO: We played with great concepts across the country. Somebody is going to always take part of that and implement it in their offense. We've got some of the same things they do in our offense, okay. But we're not just totally in that regard. We played against Texas Tech when I was at Ohio State. We played against Texas Tech when we were at Michigan State in '09, so there is a little similarity there, a little bit. I think what they do now, everybody is always changing their offense or defense and critiquing what they do and implementing new concepts. This is 2017, a new game. I can tell you we're going to have to pressure well and make plays on the quarterback and take away deep balls in general.

THE MODERATOR: One more question for Coach?

MARK DANTONIO: Is it a raccoon question? I trapped one once! (Laughter.)

Q. You were out here for Coach Leach's press conference. I was wondering if there was one presser you agreed with or found entertaining?
MARK DANTONIO: I live in a bubble. I'm not out there surfing the net or anything. Always had a great time talking with Coach Leach, and I think he's one of the outstanding coaches in this country and all the other stuff sorta gets put over here. I look at the coach. Outstanding coach. Guys all good? Thanks. Go green!

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
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