Notebook: Dantonio expects new freshman to play against Notre Dame
Head coach Mark Dantonio spoke to reporters on Tuesday about the Spartans’ win last Saturday over Western Michigan and previewed MSU’s upcoming matchup against Notre Dame next Saturday.
Here are a few key takeaways from Dantonio, along with other noteworthy information leading into next week’s rivalry matchup.
AP Poll: The Spartans received one vote in the AP Top 25 poll on Sunday. The sole vote comes from Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News, who has placed the Spartans in the Top 25 poll since the preseason.
Ray Guy Award: On Tuesday, junior punter Jake Hartbarger was nominated to the Ray Guy Award Watch List. The award is presented annually to the nation’s top collegiate punter and is determined by a national voting body of sports writers, sports information directors and past Ray Guy Award winners.
With two games into the Spartans’ regular season, Hartbarger has logged 12 punts for 526 yards, including a long of 57 yards, and has has downed five punts inside the 20. The recipient of the award will be announced on Dec. 7.
AJ Arcuri injury update: After missing the Spartans’ first two games of the regular season, Dantonio gave an update on injured offensive tackle AJ Arcuri.
The redshirt freshman is dealing with a lower body injury that required surgery, but Dantonio said he will know more on the redshirt freshman next month.
“We'll know more on AJ here in early October,” Dantonio said. “My hope is that he'll start to be able to practice again. He's had to go through some different things with his surgery, but it's our hope that will happen here in October. So he will be available to play some. I think he has that skill set to do that.”
More true freshman to play: With a team blossoming with youth, Dantonio revealed the possibility of another true freshman getting the opportunity to play this season.
In the Spartans’ latest depth chart, which was released prior to MSU’s game last weekend against Western Michigan, Dominique Long, a true freshman, was listed as the team's third-string safety.
“I think Dom Long will play (next week against Notre Dame),” Dantonio said. “I think he's another guy that will play. I just think he does too many things on special teams. He's a good tackler. I think we can get him involved. It's a long season, and you get guys nicked up and they can't practice and then you end up practicing this guy or that guy. I think he's a good football player, and I think he'll play. We'll see how it all shakes out. I thought he might have played this past week, but we held him out. I do anticipate him playing.”
If Long plays next Saturday, he will become the 11th true freshman to play for the Spartans this season.
Players impacted by Irma: Several players on the Spartans’ roster are from Florida, which was just impacted by Hurricane Irma. Dantonio, however, did confirm that all the players and their families are safe and unharmed.
“They are doing well. Their families are all doing well,” Dantonio said. “I talked to (defensive end) Lashawn Paulino-Bell. I said, ‘Are they leaving?’ ‘No, they are going to ride it out.’ You know, they are about 30 minutes from the coast. But everybody, (junior cornerback) T.J. Harrell’s family, everybody’s family, I think we have four guys with (freshman wide receiver) Laress Nelson, (senior defensive tackle) Devyn Salmon, everybody’s family’s okay. I think they probably are without power, some of them, but they seem to be doing okay. We’ve checked on all of them.