Mark Dantonio and the unranked Michigan State Spartans finished a disappointing 2018 season 7-5. They now head to San Francisco for a New Year’s Eve tilt at the Redbox Bowl on Monday, Dec. 31 at 12 p.m. PT/3 p.m. ET in Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, versus the Oregon Ducks.
The above video is Mark Dantonio moments ago and his Entire MSU Football Shake Up Press Conference.
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: Basically just wanted to have a quick press conference a little bit here to talk a little about 2018 and move on to 2019 as much as anything else and just sort of let people know the direction we’re going and those type of things.
First of all, I just want to congratulate Lorenzo White again on his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame and excited to be there next December to celebrate, tremendous football player and person.
2018, real quick, as I said at the Bowl game, high expectations. I think we’ve set those expectations here. We’ve created those as we’ve gone along, and I think we fell short of those a little bit, even though we went to a bowl game, winning season and those type of things, fell short a little bit. There’s a lot of reasons for that as you go through it. Obviously injuries had an impact on our football team this year, and as we went through that.
The other reason I wanted to have this press conference a little bit is talk about each segment of our football team a little bit.
Defensively, first of all, I thought our defense played championship-type defense this year. We ended up I think No. 1 in the nation versus the run, No. 8 third down conversions, No. 8 in scoring defense and then maybe No. 10 in total defense.
So outstanding job, and we’ll continue to be able to do that. We have five guys that have decided to come back that are juniors.
Also thought this would be a way to recognize them without having to re-Tweet things and things of that nature and they are all sort of doing it at different times. Just wanted to acknowledge what they have been able to accomplish.
So first of all, Joe Bachie makes the decision. Joe was an outstanding middle linebacker for us, (first-team) All-Big Ten, leader in every respect, extreme competitor and he’ll bring a lot to the table.
Kenny Willekes, All-American, Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year in the Big Ten Conference as a junior. So he will return, as well, and another tremendous competitor and has great leadership qualities, as well.
David Dowell will return. David in the back end, we lose Khari Willis obviously, but David really will pick up where he left off. He’ll be in his third year, really, as starting for us, so that’s exciting. Thought he had an outstanding season. He was first-team All Big Ten last year, as well.
Mike Panasiuk returns. Been a solid performer and has really increased his abilities to his style of play in the last year, and I think he can be a dominant player up front; and then along with Raequan Williams, who was also All-Big Ten and Raequan, tremendous athlete, big body guy.
To me, it gives you five guys that are almost like signing five, five-star players or four-star players. They know the system. They know the requirements here. They have played championship-type defense. They have dominated at their position at times throughout their careers here. To have them all coming back, not only makes a statement for our defense, but makes a statement for our entire program in terms of what they are trying to accomplish in terms of getting their degree and what they are trying to accomplish in terms of winning a championship.
So very, very excited about that. Obviously Josiah Scott is a (Freshman) All-American (in 2017) and he returns, as well. We will return, I think it’s eight starters next year, on the defensive side of the ball.
From a special teams perspective, you know, up and down a little bit. Went through four punters. William Przystupis transferring this year. He was fourth in line there, and I thought he did an outstanding job for us. Tremendous job. Sort of being put on the stage in the Ohio State game to start with, but he has decided to transfer. Jake Hartbarger returns; Matt Coghlin, first-team All Big Ten. Got to clear up some snap issues. Had two of those. Never had those in the past. But other than that, I thought pretty well, special teams, we did okay.
Offensively, which is I guess another reason I’m having this press conference today, is to talk a little about our offense. Obviously we were not productive on that side of the ball nearly where we need to be, and I understand that. And there’s not a day that goes by, I have to say, where I don’t wake up or go to sleep thinking about this football program.
So much like every other head coach in America, you think about things and how to fix things and how to change things and go through all the different things that you have to deal with.
With that being said, we have to make some changes on that side of the ball. I also, though, have decided we have great coaching. So I’m going to shake up the offensive side of things and I’ll be happy to answer questions after that.
Brad Salem, moving to offensive coordinator. He will also coach our running backs, which he’s coached before with Le’Veon Bell and Edwin Baker who were here. He’s been offered an offensive coordinator job the last three years at Power Five schools. I feel like this is a time that warrants his opportunities to coordinate our offense.
Dave Warner will step away from that position and coach our quarterbacks, which obviously he’s had tremendous success coaching our quarterbacks here early in 2007-2012. Been very successful at that.
Jim Bollman will return to the offensive line, which that’s his career expertise. He’s coached nine Big Ten Championships at Ohio State and coordinated that, so he’ll move to the offensive line.
Mark Staten will move to tight ends and will coordinate our special teams. We will still segment it up but he will coordinate those. He’s coached tight end in the past. Both (Brent and Garrett) Celek played for him among other players, Charlie Gant and people that have played here for him, Dion Sims, etc.
Then Don Treadwell will move to the wide receivers. Tread obviously has been a coordinator at Cincinnati for us when I was there and came here and was a coordinator in 2007-2010. Won a Big Ten Championship. Gives us a unique perspective of having been on the defensive side of the ball for the last year, so he’s seen all different type of concepts that have gone against us; and by doing that, I think it enhances just the overall knowledge of what’s been played on other football teams offensively and what could fit into our situation. He’s also been a long-time wide receiver coach.
Terrence Samuel will move to coaching the secondary, along with Paul Haynes, to be the assistant secondary coach. He’s coached on the defensive side of the ball. I think he again, has had success here, but he will have – there’s a great deal of sacrifice on all these guys parts, as well, when they make this decision and Terrence will move in that direction. But he will have an added input on our defensive side of the ball, much like Tread had from an offensive perspective.
Mike Tressel will assume the position of assistant head coach, and Paul Haynes will remain our secondary coach, along with Ron Burton and Chuck Bullough, who were incidentally named Defensive Line Coaches of the Year, and they have done an outstanding job there. And Mike will also coach our linebackers, as well.
Did that for a number of reasons, honestly. I think they bring a great wealth of knowledge from an offensive perspective and it stays in the offensive room, obviously, most of it.
I’ve always been the type of person that, you know, I’m a foxhole guy. I don’t apologize for that in any respect. I believe in surrounding myself with loyal people. I believe in digging in when things get tough.
I’ve always said to our players and the reason I’m having this conference right now, is because I announced this all to our players, and other things, to our players about how we were going to go like this in 2019 (moving arm forward). We’re not going to stand still.
We have been good on one side of the ball and we need to be better on the other. But with that being said, I’ve always been a person that’s talked to our players about our “Spartan’s greatest strength is the warrior standing next to them.’ And I believe people are committed, committed to the program, committed to the players.
I really don’t want to start the process all over again and bring some completely unknown guy in with a completely unknown staff, and then having them be with unknown players in an unknown commodity and start from scratch. I don’t think that warrants this situation. Could have done that. Could have let everybody go and try to spread a little pixie dust over everybody, but I do believe that football is execution. I do believe that football is a game of execution and repetition. I’ve said that over and over. It’s won on the inches. Sometimes it’s players’ mistakes. Sometimes it’s a bad coaching mistake or maybe a missed step in teaching progression or something of that nature.
But it’s things I believe that we can correct in a very meaningful way. It gives us an opportunity to start on our problems and critique our problems right now. We don’t have to wait a month for me to hire somebody. We don’t have to wait a month to find ourselves together, see our problems, recognize our problems and much like after 2012, move forward.
And that’s what I’ve always been about here. Our coaches will speak the same language. They will be able to go different places to find added opportunities, you know, whether — in terms of looking at other programs and seeing what they did, whether it’s an NFL team or whether it’s another college team.
Last time we made these changes like this, I think this is probably the most significant change we’ve had maybe in my 12 years here, but I think that it’s warranted.
I can’t point to any position saying, hey, they did everything right. Every position needs to be touched. There needs to be a different teacher in that environment, but I don’t think that it’s all about just the coaches. We all take a hand in that, including the head coach, including our players.
So the goal here is to continue to win, and we’ve won on a large scale here, I think we’re the ninth-ranked program in the country in terms of wins since 2010 going into this season. So these guys have won Big Ten Championships more than once. They have had NFL players. They have had first-round picks. They have had Academic All-Americans. They have had great relationships with their players and all those things warrant these opportunities.
That’s sort where I’m going with this thing. I’m sure I left something out, but I’ll fill in the blanks and give you guys opportunities to ask a couple questions, and then we’ll get on with it.
So there you go.
Q. Two questions, please. I’ll ask them one at a time.
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: You’ll always get two questions if you do it like that (laughing).
Q. Salaries. How will that change? Will they just swap salaries with positions? How do you plan on handling that?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: Well, our coaches are on two-year contracts, as well. The contract situation, they will remain on their same contracts right now, but we will possibly be able to increase and move around some things relative to the opportunities given to me by our athletic director.
Q. Second of all, I know you said you’re closing 2018 and looking ahead to 2019. How much are you going to be looking at the possibility of a transfer quarterback coming in?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: I don’t anticipate doing that right now. I don’t want to do that. That’s not the way that we’re going to go.
As I said earlier, the easy thing, guys, is to say, hey, we’ve got a great defense; (so) let’s get rid of the offensive guys. Let’s shake the quarterback out over here. Put a little pixie dust right here and everything’s going to be okay. That’s not necessarily the situation.
Brian Lewerke I think understands our terminology. He’s been successful here in the past. I think he can be successful and I have faith in that. And so I put my faith in the people that I know and that’s the direction we’re going to go.
Q. Two questions for you, as well —
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: I’m going to have three for you guys (laughing).
Q. Your thought process in this, I know you mentioned along the way that you value the loyalty and everything else but how difficult was it for you to maybe talk to these guys and get them to buy in with these changes?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: Very difficult. Very difficult for me because they have relationships with the players. Not only their players, but their incoming players, their recruits.
And when they go into somebody’s home and talk about them being there, I want them to be there. I think that they can still have the same day-to-day relationships with their players. A lot of people work hand-in-hand with each other and things of that nature. You know, Coach Salem will still be involved with the quarterbacks. You know, Coach Warner — we can flop it around. So it was difficult.
But with that being said, I had to make some difficult decisions, as you said. And the thing that impresses me about our coaching staff right now is that everybody is all in with it. They understand. They understand the gravity of what we’re trying to do. They are team players in all respect and them take a step backward and allow the change to happen and then they have embraced the change and — thus far.
I think it’s very important that there’s a cohesive change because if it’s not cohesive then there’s going to have to be other decisions made, but I see it being cohesive. I see our coaches have been together for a long time.
Q. And the second part of it, because you did bring up Brian, where is his health right now going into the off-season? Is it all right right now or will he need surgery?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: No, I don’t anticipate surgery there. I would be very surprised if there was surgery. I think he needs a little bit of rest. I thought that he threw the ball pretty well at the bowl game.
You know, it’s not always about throwing the football. It’s about decision-making, too. I think he’s very, very capable of doing what he’s always been able to do in the past.
Q. When did you know you had to make these changes on offense, at what point? And looking at next year, will we look at this and say, is this a Brad Salem offense or will it be a Mark Dantonio offense?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: That was two questions again.
Let’s see. First question is; when did I know? I sort of started to get the feeling immediately after the season that we were going to have to do something. But I wanted it to take place in a timely fashion and I wanted to go through the month of December and not be disruptive.
But then after the bowl game at that point in time, I had to start thinking a little bit more candidly, I wouldn’t say seriously, I would say candidly, and I thought it was — I thought the decision needed to be made as soon as possible to give everybody an opportunity; if they wanted to go in a different direction, they had an opportunity to go find a job.
I thought that was important; that they had the opportunity to stay here if they wanted. I thought that was important. And if they wanted to go, that they had an opportunity to find a position. I also wanted to get back to our players as soon as possible so that they would have the opportunity to understand who was going to coach them.
Like I said, I’m all about trying to solve problems. So in my way of thinking, maybe it’s wrong, but my way of thinking, the way to address the problems is to do it as quickly as possible and then start to move on it. Start to move on the process. Try and identify the problems. Try to fix those problems.
And the problems are not always to do with coaches. I’ve come in here I don’t know how many times and said, hey, everybody wants to say, run that play again when that guy ran for 35 yards. Some of it’s just about breaking tackles or about abrupt cuts, not catching the ball or separating from the defensive back, or blocking the 3-technique, for those of you who know what a 3-technique is.
But it’s not all about — yeah, some of it’s about the play that’s called. It’s not always about just that. We all have to take ownership in the offense not being productive. Just like we all have to take ownership in the defense playing well. It’s not just the coaches. They did a phenomenal job with players playing, too. The effect they have on confidence — it’s teaching progression. It’s the things that you emphasize. It’s everything put into one and that’s why I go back and say football is the ultimate team game, it really is.
And it is a game of execution and repetition. You can’t run a hundred different plays. You have certain concepts that you have to repeat over and over and over and those concepts are eventually successful.
Q. Second question was, you picked Brad for a reason.
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: Well, I looked at the last time we went around doing this, I thought about Brad Salem for the coordinator’s position at that time and I moved in the other direction.
You know, I think it’s important that our coordinator — just me, it’s just me, I don’t know — served us well in the past. I think my feeling is the offensive coordinator should have quarterback expertise, but should coach a different position because I want him to not be in a room with four guys. I want to be in a room with more people and have more of an impact, broader impact, on the entire team. That’s the way I’ve always done it here and that’s what we’ve done.
But we also want to have a guy whose expertise is quarterbacks, and I feel like we have one, two, three guys on our staff right now that their expertise has been quarterbacks and they have coached NFL-caliber quarterbacks and been highly successful, including Don Treadwell.
Q. Talking quickly about the guys that are coming back, do you know of any players from the roster that will not be back or decided to transfer or anything like that?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: Just William (Pryzstup), and then obviously we lost Justin Layne.
Q. When you make a decision — you made your decision to change the offensive coordinator, was swapping all the other offensive positions an independent decision, or once you say, okay, I’m going to change at the top, everybody else should rotate and shuffle around, too, to freshen things up in that regard?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: No, I’m not laying the blame on one guy. Absolutely not. Nor am I laying the blame on the coaching staff in general. I’m involved in this, too. Our players are involved in this, too.
We just need to have more production and that production can come from scoring in the red zone to having explosive plays to whatever it is. But when I made this decision, I really felt like the decision was made because nobody was immune from having — nobody is, Oh, hey, those guys played tremendously.
So that’s on me, as well as on them and I’m going to try and do my best to correct it, but I also do not feel like, as I said earlier, I don’t feel like — I’m trying to create circulation. We didn’t need to cut off a limb. We need to create circulation. New ideas and new patterns, new teaching. Even if it’s just a different person, different face.
Plenty of corporations in America today move people from place to place in that corporation to try and invigorate more growth. That’s all we’re trying to do here. We’ve done that before in the past and continuity has been something that we’ve stressed here, and I believe in that. Other people want change all the time. I believe in continuity. I believe that you have a history and you understand the problems that we’ve been through, and you don’t have somebody else coming in and saying, oh, let’s do this. We have already tried that.
I just believe in trying to solve the problems and to identify the problems and then solve it and then do it the very best I can, and quite honestly, as painlessly as I can, because I believe in that, too.
Q. With each of those position group guys, can you run down quickly why — they were in their position last summer for a reason and now you put them in new positions.
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: Brad Salem, I’m convinced Brad Salem, staying the course here for three years in a row, don’t leave and take that particular coordinator’s position unless you go to a place where you can win or it’s a big, national reputation-type place.
These places, not that they weren’t, but they were just getting started and he stayed, and I think that he’s got a very innovative, creative mind. I’ve listened to him. I’ve been in a lot of his meetings, a lot of the quarterbacks meetings.
Probably by going to one meeting, it seems like going to that meeting more often than not and I just feel like he’s been a head coach and he’s been in a position of leadership. I’ve always been impressed when he stood in front of a group and talked to the group.
I think he brings confidence to a group and he brings energy to a group and his players have always performed pretty well, about as well this year as we want them to be, but I just think that he’s done the job and warrants this opportunities. I think he has good leadership skills.
Dave Warner moves to the quarterback position because that is what he is. He is a quarterback’s coach. He played quarterback in college and that’s what he’s been predominately. He’s coached wide receivers and running backs throughout his career, but if you had to say, what does Dave Warner coach, he’s coached quarterbacks, and I thought he did a phenomenal job when he first came here with Brian Hoyer, and then with Kirk Cousins, and you know, he’s a little bit — he’s a different style of teacher, and that style of teaching in that room maybe needs to change a little bit. And no disrespect to Brad. It just a different style of teaching.
Jim Bollman is an offensive line coach and has been for the bulk of his career. He came here being the tight ends coach but he was also an offensive line consultant. They work hand-in-hand together on the field most days. But he’s been coaching the offensive line for 30-plus years. He has tremendous expertise in that, and I think he’s got nine Big Ten Championships under his belt in some capacity.
Somebody told me that we have 85 wins in this decade at Michigan State, most ever and we’ve got a another season to go. So we have good coaches.
Mark Staten has coached tight ends in the past…we need to win at the point of attack at tight end and block more effectively at the tight end position and I think he’ll be all in on that. But he’s done a great job teaching and just a different personality, different mode, whatever it is, it’s a shake up.
And then Don Treadwell, been a wide receiver coach all his life, basically. Has been a running back coach, coached quarterbacks, but I just think the change warranted for all positions and that impacted Terrence Samuel, as well.
And I think it gives Coach Samuel another perspective going over to the defensive side of the ball which will enhance his career. And then also, you’ve got a different guy sitting in there, as opposed to last year. So it also brings a little bit more diversity into our defensive staff room in terms of what he’s seen, as opposed to what Tread has seen.
Making Mike Tressel assistant head coach, his side of the team has played dynamically. I think he needs to be in a bigger role of leadership and I think he’s got a very bright future ahead of him. There’s basically reasons to do it that way.
And quite honestly if I had to go out and find a (new) guy right now, it would take me a month to find a guy who is an offensive coordinator who I would want on our team and say: Here is the keys to the car I’ve been driving for 12 years; take it for a spin. I would be highly irate if that thing didn’t work, highly. I’d ask him more than two questions. So — those are the reasons behind it.
Q. You went into the bowl game with a lot of up-tempo offense. What was your final analysis?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: Yeah, we went with an up-tempo offense. O felt like we needed to change. Plus that’s something that they hadn’t prepared for. We were in pistol a little bit, ran more different things.
You see the difference LJ Scott makes on your team as far as running the football. I mean, you just do. He almost broke a couple for big, big games. If the blocking on a couple of them were more correct, he would have. The back side linebacker would be taken care of and off we go.
But you saw the difference there. I think that some of it’s players. It’s what we’re going to come up with, okay. There’s a lot of different directions that you can go offensively but when you really get down to it, guys, you want to watch a Championship Game on (Monday), just find me a guy that can catch the wall with one hand.
So a lot of the same plays that are being run out there in America are being run here. It goes back to execution, timing, what’s being called at what time. You know, is this particular play called here.
If there’s anything relative to coaching, it’s probably adjustments and play selection at a specific time, and that’s a crapshoot sometimes. On fourth and one, I was the one that said, hey, we need to run the naked. Well, how many times we going to run the quarterback sneak, guys? Anybody here thinks that maybe we should run a naked some day? But you have to block the guy off the edge to make it successful and we went right by him, so that’s execution. So things of that nature.
Now, you don’t throw the interception on the one that you mishandled, but things happen. As long as we play hard.
Q. You mentioned the offense you expect. Do you look back at Brad Salem‘s career in terms of his play-calling there and rhythms he had or anything like that?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: No, I don’t. It’s more about what he’s done since he’s been here, and just in talking football. You ride around in a car with people — you know, I’ve always sort of taken the approach quite honest, it’s probably why I’d have a hard time hiring somebody is, find people you want to ride around in a car with for a whole day. That’s not easy. And talk football with them and talk a little bit.
You know, you talk a lot of football with all my guys, all our guys, and you know, you tend to talk football and you sort of get an insight into what he’s thinking and how he’s going about his business. He’s got good ideas and I think he’s an innovative thinker and I think it will help us.
Again, it was just time for a change, and I recognize that. I recognize that. As difficult as it is, for everybody involved in this, it’s just time for that.
Q. Looking back at this past year, has that changed your philosophy about offense at all and not just that, your own team but what you’re seeing around the country?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: You mean in terms of?
Q. Just trying to put up more points, go faster.
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: You look back at 2017, we won 10 games. Could have won more. Tight games. There’s a lot of parity in college football.
So if you’re sitting at Oregon right now figuring out, how were we held to seven points, you’re probably scratching your head there. I think it goes full circle.
If you look back, 2014, No. 10 in offense in the country and most points, yards, rushing (school records). At one point Jeremy Langford had 18 straight 100-yard gains. We had one this year. Now, is that scheme or execution? It’s all involved. It’s the same people calling the same thing, we’re at 36-5. Same people calling the same plays.
So it’s not all there. It’s just a different — it’s just a change. And I just think that we need a change to simulate, like I said, to stimulate growth and really to stimulate circulation, like I said, get things moving, get people in a different direction and get them thinking in a different way of thinking and get them moving like this.
And like I said to everybody involved in this progress: You’d either get on the train or you’re going to be sitting there looking at the train because it’s going to leave.
As I mentioned today to some people, we’re going to play inspired football next year and we’re going to get ready and I’m not getting ready in January or February. I’m getting ready now — this is January.
But I’m not — we’re not waiting, sitting around waiting until March. We’re going to use every time, every moment that we can to either recruit or get better as a football team. That’s what we’re going to do.
A lot of people think maybe I shouldn’t even have — maybe I should have just made a release and just put that out there, but I’m really not doing it for you people. I’m doing it for Spartan Nation because I want Spartan Nation to understand that we are moving forward; that there is positives coming down the stretch. We’ve got a lot of players coming back and we will be a motivated football team.
Now that does not guarantee success or winning, as we play in a very tough, competitive environment. But we’re going to get ready, we’re coming for you.
Q. You’ve mentioned fairly about execution, that it’s not all on coaches. Players, too. Was the reassignment of some football coaches to different positions, are you going to take a little bit different look at recruiting and see if some of the execution is recruiting-related, how you look at guys, that kind of stuff?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: I think we all know that recruiting is a crapshoot, guys, it really is. You can — everybody comes, as I told our rookies, mid-year guys that came in today, which by the way, Nick Samac came in; J.D. Duplain came in; Anthony Williams came in; Tre Mosley came in; Jack Bouwmeester from Australia came in; Evan Morris came in; (also Spencer Brown and Damon Kaylor).
So they all came with a foundation and level of success and they have all been successful where they have been. Now they have to step up and say, okay, what can you do against the big boys. Just like when Devontae Dobbs and Julian Barnett played in the Under Armour Game, well, I’m sure it’s the best competition they ever had, okay. So it was time for them to step up, as well.
So we’re all challenged with trying to exceed and build on that foundation that we have. Same here. So we will build on it.
Q. I know each season presents different challenges, but how much did this year remind you of 2012 and great defense, offense that couldn’t get you the win, same record, and how much would you like to see it obviously move the way 2013 did?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: Remember 2013 was tough early on. But all of a sudden they shook loose and on went Jeremy Langford.
It does remind me of 2012 in some degree to a large degree. And I’m not making excuses, but this is probably as many injuries as we’ve ever had. So when you look at our offense, our entire offense, we had three players play in every game: Matt Sokol, Tyler Higby and Jordan Reid play in every game. I think we had nine wide receivers that missed games, missed them and guys playing with casts on.
So it was a little bit — it was difficult in that sense but at other times, it was more about creating change.
Q. Other than the Penn State game, the level of production and execution was so dramatically different from the first three quarters to the fourth quarter, how do you account for that, and what do you do differently? Is it something in the off-season?
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: Yeah, because you know, you talk about yourselves and always sort of picturing ourselves as a fourth quarter team. We won in the fourth quarter and we did not this year. We lost in the fourth quarter.
Too many we lost, and I think we had in the lead in, what, three of the six games. I think we had the lead in all but maybe two games that we lost.
So that’s something that we need to work on. We talked about the fourth quarter program. And all that’s talk, but now same thing I told our players: It’s get on the train. Compete. Very competitive conference we’re in. Got to find leaders. We have leaders on defense. You guys know that. Got to find them on offense. So let’s go find them. Problem solved, let’s go.
I don’t have an answer for that other than — other than, you know, it’s very intense and competitive. Sometimes you win them and sometimes you don’t, but we’re sort of priding ourselves at making a play down the stretch. This year there were a couple games where we did not.
The smallest of things hang on that, they really do. You know, the first play of the game, down on the 33-yard line going in, you know that I’ve gone over these things over and over and over in my head. If the wide receivers over split, which means they split out too wide and the throw was too far and it doesn’t work, whose fault is that, on an RPO? You know, it’s things like that. And you’re second-and-10, run the ball for three.
Now it’s third-and-7 and you’ve got to skip three or do you think third and seven, or do you think third and three and make it a 44-yard field goal; that’s my mistake and I didn’t say, I think third and three.
So there’s a lot of different things that you can talk about; that the armchair quarterback at home could talk about, quite frankly, but there’s a lot of different things that we can talk about that impacts a football game.
That’s why this game continues to be the most popular sport in America, whether on the NFL side of things or the college side of things. Continues to be the most popular sport because there are so many different avenues to winning and avenues to losing.
But we’re going to keep working and we’re going to invest our time in that and we’re going to start now.
Q. When you ultimately decided in your mind, okay, I need to make a change of some magnitude here, did you consider at any point looking outside or had you kind of dialed in some of the changes? Wondered if you ever thought about Don —
HEAD COACH MARK DANTONIO: Yeah, I looked at every option available. I looked at all options, I really did.
But again, I go back to, I’m not an offensive coach. I have offensive feelings, strong feelings, and offensive concepts that I understand and feel like we need to do and want to see certain things done, certain concepts.
But I’m just not, after 12 years, ready to just take the car and just hand over the keys to somebody and say, here you go. I think there’s a huge learning curve there in terms of Who’s Who, in terms of what this place represents, in terms of what kind of people I want in this program. Talking about the quality of people. There’s just so much to filter through that I came to the feeling like — we’ve got good coaches.
We just need to shake it up a little bit. But we have good coaches. We understand concepts. We understand the history and what went wrong. Now let’s try and fix it. We’ve got good players. We’ve got a lot of players back and we should compete.
The expectations have risen here. Most people, quite honestly, a lot of people celebrate 7-6. They will be saying — we only lost and we could have won those other ones. They are celebrating it.
I understand the expectations here and I wrap my arms around here. I embrace it. We get ourselves ready to go and like I said, we’ll be inspired.
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