East Lansing, MI
Since last season ended, we have bemoaned the Spartans 2016 schedule. Playing a 1AA team in Furman to start the season and then being saddled with a bye week before heading to Notre Dame was less than ideal. It is a nightmare.
Dantonio said, “Yeah, it’s tough. It’s been a question throughout the process, you know. I think we’re the only team in America that has a bye the second week of the season, and then plays a Power 5 team that next week.” As a point of reference, Stanford also has bye this Saturday and then plays USC on the 17th
That is why Spartan Nation has reported for months that the Spartans were the most vanilla they have ever been in the usually very vanilla spring game. They maintained that commitment to showing nothing new in all phases of the game in game one versus Furman. Michigan State will head to South Bend next week with nothing new having being show to the Irish anywhere on film since the game with Alabama ended. We will talk about that in great detail in another article.
Dantonio talked about one advantage to the less than advantageous bye week, “It gives us an opportunity obviously to get ahead a little bit from a film and schematic standpoint on Notre Dame, things tend to change week-to-week with programs and who you play. But it does give us a chance to watch their personnel, what they’ve done thus far and what they’ve done last year.”
As Dantonio comes off his most brutally difficult camp, he entered the bye week by having some of his most physical practices in preparation for the Irish. While some coaches run from contact, it is Dantonio who lives by a mantra that says, “Football is a physical game and must be played.”
Entering this bye week, Dantonio had four goals in mind for his Spartans to accomplish this week in preparation. That is why newly ranked #8 Spartans have stayed right on course.
Dantonio broke down his goals for the week, “So there’s not a lot to compare to that. But we use it as a positive. We’ll get some guys, first of all, healthy. Secondly, our players are really in school for the first time this week. You know, last week was a chopped up week. So they can get themselves grounded in that respect.”
He went on to add, “Third, we can get out and recruit a little bit on the weekend. So that’s a positive. Fourth thing we have to do is maintain our game conditioning. I thought we were in conditioned in the game. We have to maintain our game conditioning aspect. So we’ve got to work this week hard. And there’s always risk a little bit with that. We don’t go live or anything like that, but you have to work your players as if you had a game from the conditioning standpoint. We’re going to work hard doing that throughout the week.”
So while the bye is unfortunate, it is reality and that is why Dantonio ran head on into it and embraced it. I certainly think it hurts the Spartans, but if anyone can overcome it, no doubt it will be one of the best coaches in America, and he’ll be wearing the sweatshirt that says Michigan State when the Spartans line up to take on the Irish in South Bend.