Despite living within a mile from where Big Ten Media Days are occurring, my job prevents me from missing two days of work to go cover it. Which is fine, I doubt if I'd have anything to add to the media blowout except a proficiency with Microsoft Excel not seen often in sportswriting circles. What I can do is break down some new information given by Coach Dantonio today, and it'll be after the jump.
Here we go. All the quotes are from Dantonio.
But we'll run the same offense for both quarterbacks. Obviously we look for something a guy does a little bit better than the others, but I don't see any big wrinkles that we would change for one or the other. They're both excellent athletes. They both have size. They've both been in the system. I mentioned Kirk before. Keith has transferred from Oklahoma last year and was on our scout team did an outstanding job running all the different offenses that we had faced and very athletic. So I think both those guys have a tremendous upside.
This quote pretty much refutes the theory that Nichol would be brought in for option plays tailored specifically to his running abilities. Also, don't look for who's ahead in the QB competition. Dantonio's still holding the same position in the spring that neither Cousins nor Nichol has an advantage. Oh, and about the option -
Well, I said that (running the option) sort of tongue-in-cheek one time, and I can't believe -- I even saw it in a publication we were going to the option. I sort of said it walking away. But our players will continue to use what's been good for us. We will always add little wrinkles as we move forward, whether it's defensively or offensively. I think you have to continue to do that to stay on the cutting edge.
So yeah, I think that quote means we'll see the option 2-3 times a game (similar to the play where Keshawn Martin would take an end-around, look downfield for a receiver to pass to, and decide to run or pass based on the coverage), but MSU isn't going to become the next Georgia Tech in other words.
The thing that I think we have to continue to do is consistently recruit. We have returning starters back. We have an outstanding freshman class, and I think the thing to remember in terms of where we're at as a program right now is we have 32 upperclassmen right now in our roster, only 13 juniors, 19 scholarship seniors, and 53 underclassmen. So we are a relatively young football team. I think that that bodes well for the future.
I knew the Spartans had a couple deep recruiting classes under Dantonio, but the number that strikes me here is 13 juniors on scholarship. There will most likely be a few more spots that open up to eventual transfers etc., but that still makes 16-17 scholarships for the 2011 class. The upside is that Michigan State can afford to be selective, the downside is that it does make the classes a bit unbalanced, and may come back to bite us when the '08/'09 classes graduate. Then again, stacking those classes was a necessary evil, John L. didn't exactly do the best job of stocking those classes full.
Again, I think we could have played better in both of those games (OSU and PSU). But as I said earlier, one of the biggest goals is we need to play up, play to the best of our ability, and overachieve when we play those people. That's what it's going to take. We have to develop a certain amount of confidence to play at that level.
This quote was part of a common theme throughout Dantonio's press conference - the need to play up to the top competition in the Big Ten and elsewhere. This was mentioned in a question about Georgia, the quote above, and moving the program forward in general. The OSU and PSU games weren't competitive in the slightest, and once Georgia woke up in the second half, MSU was cooked. The true test of this competitiveness I feel won't come until the last game with Penn State. The closest barometer MSU will have before that point will be the Iowa game.
Anyway, those were the most interesting points of the press conference, and you can find the transcript here in PDF form (HT: Big Ten Network). Also news today: safety Roderick Jenrette is back on the team as a fourth-string strong safety after being suspended indefinitely for undisclosed reasons. It'll be nice to have more depth back there, especially with someone who was in the two-deep in '07.
Tomorrow is the Big Ten kickoff luncheon and round-table interviews of Dantonio, Greg Jones, Brett Swenson, and Blair White. See you then.