Dantonio looking for resiliency out of Spartans
One day removed from MSU’s first loss of the season, head coach Mark Dantonio emphasized one word: resiliency.
After MSU’s season last year, the Spartans turned to their youth to step up and play a vital role on the team in 2017.
With the lack of experience on the roster, mistakes and errors are prone to happen, and as a result of a lack of discipline, were almost expected.
After going 2-0 to start the season, the Spartans didn’t look flawless, but they did show promise.
And then came Notre Dame, MSU’s third opponent of the season.
Turnovers and penalties by MSU proved to be costly, and the Spartans were defeated by the Irish 38-18 last Saturday.
“Nobody feels worse than our players. Nobody. Not myself or anybody. Everybody feels badly,” head coach Mark Dantonio said in a teleconference on Sunday. “I’m not going to play the blame game or anything like that. We just simply have to eliminate the mistakes that we can eliminate.”
Although the loss brings some immediate concerns, it isn’t time to give up all hope just yet.
“First of all, our team is a resilient group of people,” Dantonio said. “We are young and usually youth brings that resiliency with it. We’re gonna improve and certain guys are going to improve every single game that they have an opportunity.”
Amidst the mistakes and changes that need to be corrected entering Saturday’s game against Iowa to open up conference play, Dantonio praised the play of several freshmen.
Many of those freshmen Dantonio complemented were on the offensive line.
“We’re playing with young players — three redshirt freshmen and two true freshmen in there, along with a senior, I guess a sophomore and two redshirt sophomores.” Dantonio said. “So, we’re basically a young offensive line, but I think we have talent and we're going to grow.
“With every opportunity out there, we grow. I was very impressed with those two freshmen (Kevin Jarvis and Jordan Reid) for going out and playing in a game like this and knowing what to do and being able to execute.”
During MSU’s bye week, Dantonio revealed that he expected true freshman Dominique Long to play against Notre Dame.
Dantonio held true to his statement, making Long the 11th true freshman to play this season.
Long would record one tackle in his collegiate debut on a first-quarter punt.
“I think he’s a very good athlete,” Dantonio said. “He’s proved to be a good tackler in practice. He’s very gifted athletically, so we’ll continue to work him at safety, but he played on every special teams, along with Connor Heyward.”
Andre Welch also got playing time Saturday on special teams, becoming the 12th true freshman to see the field in 2017.
“We put him in there because he’s done some things in practice that has been electrifying,” Dantonio said. “We’ve talked about it. We’ve worked him a little bit, and I thought, ‘Hey, let’s see. Let’s find out.’ So, there may be an opportunity for him to play more, and we’re going to find out about that because he can go. So, we’ll find out. We’ll see how he does in practice, but we wanted to give him an opportunity.”