September 15, 2009

Dantonio expects to see resolve against Notre Dame

EAST LANSING - Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio did not try to hide his disappointment about last weekend's 29-27 loss to Central Michigan during his Tuesday press conference. But the third-year Spartan head coach expects believes that the disappointment from a tough loss will quickly turn into firm resolve as his club begins their preparation for Notre Dame during practice Tuesday.

"When something tough has happened in your family, you want to go and be with your family," said Dantonio. "Our football family is our family in this case. So what we have to do is look at the people who are truly invested in this program. And the people who are truly invested in this program are the people that play. We have to re-gather ourselves and find strength in each other.

"Monday, the players weren't around as much. I'm looking forward to today to be around our players. You are able to move forward when you start to get back to normalcy and that's what we'll do."

As tough as the outcome of Saturday's game was on the team as a whole, no player has had a tougher time than Colin Neely, who was called for the defensive offside penalty that moved CMU's field goal attempt from 47 to 42 yards last Saturday.
Dantonio made it clear that he did not blame Neely for the loss and that every member of the Spartan football team was responsible for falling short including himself.

"Colin is having a tough time right now, much like all of us," said Dantonio. "All I ask our team to do is ask what could I have done differently. There are things that happened prior to that where we could have gotten out of that game and won that game. They had to get 23 yards before they could even kick that field goal. We had a chance to get the onside kick. There are so many things you can go back to. It's on all of us. I'll take responsibility as the head coach."

There were no significant changes on the depth chart other than the move of Trenton Robinson at free safety. Robinson, a red-shirt freshman, will start at the position over last year's starter Dan Fortener.

"Danny Fortener had a very good 2008 season. He was very, very solid," explained Dantonio. "But Trenton had an outstanding spring. He makes a lot of plays. He came into camp a little short on experience. We went with the other guy (Fortener) because of experience. I don't think Danny Fortener has played bad. It's just that Trenton has played very, very good. He's been very active. He had seven tackles (against Central Michigan). He combines speed with that activity. Consequently he has risen up the depth chart. It doesn't mean he will stay there. It doesn't mean we won't play the other guy. I just think he deserves the opportunity to start and it will be a great experience for him."

Michigan State has won seven straight games at Notre Dame. Dantonio was asked if his team had the number of the Fighting Irish.

"I don't really look at it as a streak," said Dantonio. "The players that are at Notre Dame, the players that are here, you can really only evaluate what has happened while they have played. That streak goes back a number of years, so it is really out of those peoples' hands. It comes down to guys blocking and tackling, guys playing the ball in the deep third of the field, mental errors, emotion, adversity. The people who have been down there in the past share in the win in 2007. But beyond that, I would say it' s a clean slate. People who have been down there in the past share in the win in 2007. But beyond that, I would say it' s a clean slate."

Much has been made about the next three weeks in terms of Michigan State's success or lack thereof this season. Dantonio made it clear that the success of his team will be not be determined in the next three weeks.

"As you go through your season, if you look at Iowa, they struggled early in the season and then all the sudden came on strong," said Dantonio. "We are not going to look too far in advance. We need to make sure we are ready for the next game. We go away twice. We have played well at Notre Dame in the past. We have played well at Wisconsin in the past. This program will not stand on three games. It will stand on much longer than that but we will focus on one game at a time, and if we can really focus on one play at a time we will be fine."

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