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Michigan State Football: Weekly Press Conference Coverage

The Old Brass Spittoon stays in East Lansing

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Indiana Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan State Spartans traveled to Bloomington to take on the Indiana Hoosiers this past weekend. Heading into the game they were a touchdown favorite and defeated IU 35-21, covering the spread and then some. It’s exactly the way MSU wanted to open up the B1G season.

Now the Spartans will turn their attention to Central Michigan and if they aren’t careful John Bonamego and the Chippewas could end up surprising them. It’ll be up to Michigan State to close that door early and often.

“Did we play perfect? No. Right now we’re 2-1 and we’ll try to be 3-1,” said Dantonio at the podium this afternoon.

Michigan State has been given plenty of opportunities to be successful and they’ve taken advantage of those majority of the time. They’ll be back on the field this weekend at noon against the Chippewas where they will have another chance to improve upon what they’ve already accomplished this year.

The MSU defensive line had a fantastic game. They came up with four sacks and multiple tackles for loss. Without them playing well, the Hoosiers and Peyton Ramsey may have gotten the time they needed to connect on a few more throws downfield.

The Spartans also have the number one rushing defense in the nation. Through three games they have given up 98 yards and 32.7 YPG. If MSU can continue to have this level of success on defense it’ll be a long season for opposing teams offenses. In the Dantonio era, his teams have held opponents under 100 yards 75 of 148 games. Michigan State is 65-10 during those contests.

That said, the Spartans offense is still trying to find their rhythm. The run game is non-existent and MSU is relying on Brian Lewerke to bail them out in certain situations.

“First of all, Brian is trying to create and make play, and sometimes when you do that, you’re going to make some great plays and some other times you’re going to get in bad situations,” said Dantonio. He’s got to know when to check the ball down. He’s got some guys coming on short crossers that he’s got to hit that are open. He held the ball a little bit too long.

Lewerke has had himself a nice season ranking second in the Big Ten in passing (271.3 ypg) and total offense (275.7 ypg). He’s completing 66% of his passes for 814 yards, five touchdowns, and four interceptions. The junior quarterback has the ability to lead his team down the field for big plays but as Dantonio alluded too, it doesn’t come without risks and Spartan fans saw that with his two interceptions at IU.

“Another couple times, there are things that happened up front where they brought a blitzing backer or they missed a protection and that caused immediate pressure: One time from the back side should have been picked up and he got blind-sided and the ball came out,” Dantonio said. “He made a couple nice plays off some interceptions, and you know, you’ve got to play with those. But obviously you don’t want to give the ball up in turnovers.”

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Indiana Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State still hasn't ran the ball well between the tackles. At times during the IU game fans saw the success MSU had on the edge. Right now the Spartans have speed with Jalen Nailor and Darrell Stewart — unfortunately it’s one of their only ways to keep defenses honest. Indiana talked about keying in on the run when Brian would be under center, which could be a reason why the Hoosiers were able to shut those types of runs down.

“We look at everything. Things that we do, things that they do, how it was approached, perimeter plays, run plays, inside run, three-step passing, third down, how we got the third-and-long, if we got the third-and-long what were our percentages on third-and-long, you name it, we’re trying to look at it, understand their quarterback in the gun, backset strong, backset weak. So we are looking at every different aspect to try and stay and try to give us a variance of things,” said Dantonio when asked about the predictability of his offense inside the red zone.

Additionally, the Spartan backfield hasn’t been healthy. Michigan State saw LJ Scott make the trip to Indiana but he never saw the field. MSU ran with Heyward and La’Darius Jefferson who had the ball knocked loose early in the game.

In terms of injuries Mark Dantonio had this to say:

— On if LJ Scott is day to day or back to full health: “Probably a little of both. It’s a good answer. Pretty good. Well, a little of both. I expect him to play. Maybe day-to-day.”

— On Josiah Scotts season: No, I don’t think his season is at risk, no. But he’s not ready to play yet.

Michigan State v Indiana Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

When asked about how he’s handled his teams health this season and how it’s affected him Dantonio went on to say —

“Yeah, we’ve had to do it sometimes in the past. In 2015 we had a lot of injuries up front on the offensive line and maintained what we needed to do. My sense of everything is always: The more you play, the more experience you get. I mean, if you’ve been playing at left guard all your life and now you’ve got to play right guard, that’s an experience that you can draw on at another time during the season. I look at it as an opportunity to get stronger, not an opportunity to get weaker.”