Michigan State Preview

What to watch on offense

Mark Dantonio is in his 7th year at Michigan State has finally brought something to Sparty that they haven’t had in a long time, consistency. After years of mediocre and losing seasons the Spartans have reached a bowl game in each of Dantonio’s 6 seasons. The Spartans added co-offensive coordinators but have maintained the same power running attack that Dantonio’s teams have been known for throughout the years.

After 2 seasons the Spartans are still searching for a QB to replace Kirk Cousins who posted a 28-12 record as a starter. Longtime heir apparent Andrew Maxwell gave way to Connor Cook shortly after the season started and has posted better than average numbers. The Spartan passing game is still a weak spot despite the presence of WRs Bennie Fowler, Aaron Burbridge, and Macgarrett Kings Jr.

After losing La’Veon Bell to the draft Sparty has turned to junior Jeremy Langford to carry the load at RB. Langford, who like many of the backs on the Spartan roster, didn’t see a ton of carries behind Bell has blossomed into playmaker at RB. At 6’0 206lbs, Langford is tough to tackle and has a great mix of speed and power.

The Spartan’s offensive line was decimated by injuries a year ago and while they lose their best linemen, they return the services of seniors Travis Jackson and Fou Fonoti. Returning 4 players with starting experience, though this is one of the smallest offensive lines the Spartans have had under Dantonio weight wise.

Best Offensive Player

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Mark Dantonio Press Conference Notes

Notes from Mark Dantonio Tuesday Press Conference (10/29)

Opening statement: “In this state you either grow up green or you grow up blue … Its a game we point timageo every year. Great rivalry game … They have a great football team, this game, the stakes get higher, has a meaning with bowl implications. Will be a great football game. A hard hitting game with a lot of emotion.”

On the toughness: “I’m going to worry about our football team. That game in 2011 was a tough game with a lot of emotion. Things spun out of control a little bit. We are going to play tough and within the rules and the refs have to control the game.”

On Devin Gardner: “I think that our feelings are that Devin Gardner can make a lot of plays in space and run though a  lot of tackles.  They do a lot of things that didn’t do with Denard. They run more of a power game now than prior to. A key component game will be controlling his running game and throwing to Gallon and Funchess.”

On Gardner vs. Robinson: “They are both excellent players, can’t refute what Denard Robinson was able to do in his career.”

Respect for Brady Hoke: “Just because you like someone in the family, doesn’t mean you like the entire family. I have great respect for Brady and his coaching abilities.”

On having Michigan in-state: “We’ve got great programs throughout he Midwest. We compete with Michigan every single day whether recruiting or for funding. I’ve never really thought about it like that. It is what it is. Based on my count, we’re up.”

On match-up problems Funchess creates: “A big body receiver down the field. A mismatch Tight end that can be moved around and they do. Has great hands with power. I think he’s a big part of their offense. Big time plays.”

On the four wins in a row making it a rivalry: “For it truly to a be rivalry. It can’t be one sided. When its more competitive, things take on a new meaning. Need to back up words.”

On Michigan paying for skywriting: “I did see that they had paid for it. What can you say. Why get me started. You guys know the drill.”

Anything positive from losing last year: “When you look at 2012, in all of the football games we played, they were so close. We just ran out of time. We took one on the chin vs. them and credit U of M for that. I was very proud of our team, but we came up short. I thought it was a great, tough, hard-nosed football game.”

Gold symbols on jerseys in practice: “An opportunity to look at different jerseys for next year. That was for Nike.”

On Connor Cook: “I think he is resilient. I have a lot of confidence in him. How high can he go. It will be exciting for him and he’ll have a lot of anxiety. After the first snap, you have to get down to playing the game.”

Does Michigan have an identity: “Winning. They find a way to win. Their defense flies around. They give up 90 yards a game running. A well coached team. They want to run power football. That’s toughness, they will go at you, they are right on. Football is a physical game. If you have two opponents putting on their best performances, physicality is involved.”

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