Michigan State's HC Mark Dantonio Press Conference vs. Rutgers 11/23/19
COURTESY OF RUTGERS ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS DEPARTMENT
Michigan State Football Head Coach Mark Dantonio
Opening Statement: “You know things haven’t been perfect these last couple of weeks and throughout every practice -- we came with energy in practice and worked hard to prepare for this football game. So the goal was as simple as ‘Go 1-0,’ We were able to do that. When you look at football game, Cody White has a tremendous day. Big catches, great catches, extra effort catches. (He) actually had one turned over and had the one pulled away clean in the end zone as well. (Brian) Lewerke was on target (and) ran pretty effectively. Elijah (Collins) runs for 109 yards. Defensively, we played extremely well, shut them out, 0-11 on third down. We knew we needed to contain the quarterback (Johnny Langan) because the quarterback is a runner. Credit to Rutgers, I think they are an improved football team over the course of the season, they play hard and they come to play. We took a step forward today so that was important. And we have a chance to play (for win) number six next week.”
On getting the win: “We've had a tough stretch for (different) reasons, and today we started three true freshman offensive lineman side by side. We started a true freshman wide receiver in Julian Barnett and we had a redshirt freshman in Elijah Collins. We started five true freshmen on offense and that's uncommon, especially on the line with true freshman playing so it wasn’t perfect. I think some of the things were done very, very well. (There are) other things you gotta look at and gotta be able to correct. We had some missed opportunities.”
On message to team: “(I’m) very, very proud of them. I keep talking about life’s lessons and I guess in football that’s what you do. Things won’t always go the way you want them to go and they found a way to sort of get the monkey off the back a little bit -- our back a little bit. We haven’t sung the fight song in a while.”
On handling adversity: “Every single game we’ve come out fast and we have not been able to handle the adverse situations in the game as they progress through the game. I thought we handled adversity today and that was a big issue (in the past).”
On what the win means: “5-6. You put so much into these things (and) you want them to go well. Sometimes they don't go as well as you want to go, (but) that's football, that's across this country. But you have to rally back and I think as much as anything it's about what are we going to do next. And today, that was the message to our team, “Okay, what are we going to do next.”
On the defense’s performance: “Over the course of time we’ve performed very well on defense here. But this year, it’s a throw here, a throw there, a fourth and 17 throw, a fourth and 15 scramble. That’s made a difference in two games, pure and simple. Then there's other things too. So you got to make plays. It's all so structurally set up. You have the right call on for the right play, so there's a lot of that. And then you got to be able to perform within the structure that call. Our guys came out ready to play. And really throughout the season, that's how they’ve been. We’ve got a lot of guys hurt. We had four offensive linemen out, with three or four more still sitting at home. That’s eight offensive linemen we had out today. That makes it a lot more difficult to function. So, credit our freshman. Those guys played pretty good. Just to be playing and be able to make something happen.
On the plan at left tackle: “We had three guys play left tackle today. Devontae Dobbs played, then we gave him a break. Tyler Higby played, and AJ Arcuri played in the second half. We just didn’t feel like his leg wouldn’t hold up the whole game. So that was out of necessity. Devontae, he needs to get better, just like every young player. There’s a lot of movement and a variety of different fronts that you need to block and different pressures, you have to be able to adapt. So it's not as easy, it's not just brute force and athletic strength. You got to go to the right place at the right time with the right technique. There were some great things he did good, things he did bad, things he can get better at. Experience is the best teacher that you have because game type situations are the key.”
On the defense in the first half: “I thought we stopped the run very effectively and made it difficult to throw We pressured the quarterback, didn’t sack him but did collapse the pocket. And that was the whole deal with the pass rush, make sure we try and collapse the pocket. It was more of a capture mentality with the quarterback and make it difficult for them to throw down the field and we did that. And then we had good coverage.”
On the kicking game: “If he had about one more inch, he would have been three for three today. Instead he was two out of three.”
On the receivers: “I thought Cody White played tremendously. He had some big catches. Tre Mosley had a big catch. C.J. Hayes had a big catch on third down. Even at the end of the game, Julian Barnett had a big catch. Those guys are growing up, and they will be very, very good players.
Michigan State Quarterback Brian Lewerke
On getting the win: "A win is a win and it feels really good to get another one."
On his own performance: "The guys were getting open and I was able to hit them. I was able to tell what coverage they were in. Even when they were shifting around I kind of knew what was coverage they were in. The receivers were just getting open."
Michigan State Wide Receiver Cody White
On his confidence: "Right off the bat my confidence was high and I just kinda keep building through the game."
On chemistry with QB Brian Lewerke: "Me and Brian (Lewerke) have always had a good connection. He's been able to find me even in areas where I'm like 'How did you fit that in there' but he finds a way. He's able to make plays for the offense."
Michigan State Linebacker Tyriq Thompson
On mindset heading into the game: "We set a goal (to go 1-0) and we went out to go pursue that and we did that today."
On offense's long possessions: "It was definitely a boost for us on defense. I feel like we played a complete game as a team today."