Mark Dantonio doesn't 'sandbag it': Michigan State's offense needs to be better
There wasn't any sugarcoating or beating around the bush this week. Mark Dantonio was not happy with the effort from Michigan State's offense during its season-opening win against Tulsa.
Physicality was lacking. Receivers weren't running routes at full-speed and blockers were "throwing in a shoulder" rather than addressing the defender at the point of attack.
As MSU's defense excelled in the Spartans' 28-7 win — giving up a school-record negative 73 yards rushing, recording six sacks and forcing three turnovers — the offense slacked behind.
So, another message had to be sent.
“I can say this, that football is a game of effort, toughness and knowing what to do. And half of our team figured that out," Dantonio said during his weekly press conference. "Half of it didn't. We will make sure that other half gets figured out this week. So, that's my message to our football team.”
The 19th-ranked Spartans host Western Michigan on Sept. 7 (7:30 p.m., Big Ten Network).
The Broncos, who defeated Monmouth 48-13 in their home-opener, gave up similar offensive stats to what the Spartans produced against the Golden Hurricane. Monmouth quarterback Kenji Bahar threw for 194 yards and a touchdown while the team rushed for 128 yards on 39 carries. MSU quarterback Brian Lewerke threw for 192 yards and a touchdown while the Spartans ran for 108 yards on 40 carries, a rough 2.7 yards per carry.
Dantonio wouldn't put the blame on a single person or position group, noting that offensive struggles are all-inclusive. He did not shy away from responsibility either, as he even turned some attention to the coaching staff as well, saying that play selection could have been better.
"At the end of the day, there are only so many ways to skin a cat. At the end of the day, you've got to skin the cat,” Dantonio said.
Dantonio is not blinded from the offense's struggles. He knows they exist. The tone of irritation in his voice made that clear. But don't confuse that for a sign of worry or panic.
Rather, it's a notion that he wants the issues fixed — immediately.
“When we see something that's not working correctly, we're going to try, adjust and make corrections. We're not going to come in here sandbagging or anything like that. I don't think we ever have," Dantonio said. "So, we need to get busy.”
Senior left tackle Cole Chewins was once again not listed on this week's depth chart and will not play against the Broncos.
“Cole needs to practice full-go before he can play," Dantonio said. "He's been sort of in and out. I really don't like to talk about injuries, but he's in that situation right now where he's got to practice full-go before he can play.”
Kevin Jarvis is the listed starter after making his first-career start at left tackle against Tulsa. Along with Jarvis, Luke Campbell is listed at left guard and Matt Allen or Blake Bueter at center. Matt Carrick, who made his first-career start against the Golden Hurricane, and Tyler Higby will contend for the start at right guard and Jordan Reid at right tackle.
The Spartans also lost long snapper Ryan Armour for the year. Jude Pedrozo, a walk-on freshman from Westerville, Ohio will take his place in the lineup.
“(Pedrozo) is a good snapper. We recruited him with that idea that he would be the guy. So, he's just going to have to pick up the slack a little earlier. He went in and snapped very well. He's done very well in practice, and I have no regards in terms of how he's going to do. I think he'll be outstanding," Dantonio said.
After not dressing against Tulsa, defensive end Jack Camper is listed as the second-string behind Kenny Willekes. Dantonio noted that he will be "back soon."
Running back Anthony Williams' status is up in the air after not dressing against the Golden Hurricane. Dantonio said that Williams is still nicked up and may or may not be available against the Broncos.