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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The Game Prediction

THE game. The greatest rivalry in all of sport. Whether 0-11 or 11-0, this game is one where you can throw the records out.

Looking at the trends, both teams are trending up. Michigan is on a 3 game winning streak, and frankly, their offense has taken enormous strides during those 3 weeks. Granted one can look at the opponents and make an argument that part of their success can be attributed to that. But last week showed what could truly be a special performance in the Snakepit Saturday, with Denard playing all over the field, and Devin Gardner being as special through the air as Denard can be on the ground.

If there is one thing to look for, its how Michigan chooses to attack a Buckeye defense which has been suspect much of the year. Do they try to run to set up play action and other passes, or pass to pull the safeties back and give Denard, Thomas Rawls and others more running room? My guess is you’ll see a more wide open look similar to what you saw in the ND game at the start. Like ND, Ohio’s secondary is suspect, and ranks 11th in the B1G in passing yards allowed.

Braxton Miller poses quite the threat to a Michigan defense which has been stout for the majority of the season. The 3 games that Michigan struggled the most defensively were Alabama (with an O-line like I’ve not seen since the 2000 UM line), and Air Force/Northwestern, which attacked the edges with the option, and had the speed to make that difficult. Ohio, while it has the speed in Miller, doesn’t really have a back fast enough to really attack the edges with the option on a consistent basis.

The Snakepit is by far the most difficult venue in the B1G to play in. Its fans have no issue showing their class (or lack thereof). That said, I think Michigan will be able to move the ball as much as they need to, and will be able to get enough stops to pull the game out.

Michigan 42, OSU 34.

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