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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dantonio Talks Cap One Bowl

Michigan State head coach Mike Dantonio discussed his team's matchup with Georgia at the Capital One Bowl. Here's a few of the key quotes...

On Matthew Stafford:

We played against a guy last year that was much the same, in Matt Ryan. So what I see in both those guys are the ability to take a bad play, make it into a good one. Stafford has a very strong arm and a presence in the pocket. He's got enough mobility to get out of it, get out of problems, and he's got great wide receivers that are making great plays down the field for him.

So he's got a big-time arm and he's going to throw the ball. He's not dinking the ball; where last year, for example, Ryan's leading receiver was the tailback with 78 catches, a lot of them within 10 yards. Georgia is going to throw the ball down the field, a lot more independent routes where they are working a spring guy, whether it's a deep post or a deep takeoff or deep comebacks.

But they are going to put good versus good and see what you got; and he can deliver the football, and I think that's what makes him a great one. did a great job in terms of figuring out what they are doing and tweaking our defense to try to stop those things as we go.

On representing the Big Ten against the SEC:

Well, I think it's important. I don't know that we are carrying the banner, but I think it's important that we represent the Big Ten in terms of making a statement, as we move forward.

But it's probably more crucial that we represent Michigan State in terms of what we do. And every game has its individual little battles and the battles are those two football teams. It's how we play against Georgia that's going to be the main thing. I think after it's all said and done, how the Big Ten does will be the secondary focus as we move

On all the predictions that Georgia will win easily:

Well, I see them. It's hard not to see them because they are all over the place. I think it gives you a little bit more motivation as a person. They say that everybody loves the underdog; so they may be picking them, but they will be rooting for are us.

On stopping Georgia's offense by pressuring Stafford:

We have to pressure the quarterback. I think when we have been able to pressure and affect the quarterback; we have played very well defensively. When we have not, we have not played as well.

The things that are critical to us to winning, offensively and defensively, really follow around those types of issues: can you run the ball; can you protect the quarterback; and how are you playing on special teams.

I would agree with that; we need to be able to pressure him, whether it's four-man pressure or bringing different people, but that's going to be part of the football game. I think that's naturally the way we play.

So our success in doing that is going to dictate probably the results of the game as it goes forward. Whether you pressure a quarterback with coverage or whether you pressure them with different blitzes or that type of thing, I think that you have to be a little bit balanced in that area. I mean, especially against a good football team and a good quarterback.

And the thing about New Year's Day is you're going to play a good football team. And I would like to think that we are a good football team in having the ability to be there, as well.

But they certainly have players that can make plays, and that's what you expect when you line up on New Year's Day.

On any teams they have played that match Georgia's speed:

Yeah, I think Florida in some ways was a similar team back then. They had great speed.

Perception is that you come from up here and you don't have as much speed. I don't think that's necessarily the case, but we're going to find out in a little bit. In terms of how they compare to some of these other football teams that we have played throughout the season, Cal had good speed, I felt, coming into that football game. I looked down and Notre Dame has the No. 1 recruiting class every year, so obviously they have good speed.

I look at Michigan and I look at Ohio State, Penn State, they are always nationally recruiting and they recruit great football players and two of those games, we didn't play as well.

So you know, we are going to play against the players who line up, and I can't tell you that, I don't look at track times, but it's how you play the game of football. It will be an interesting matchup, as they always are, when you go up against teams from a different conference. It's just how you match up and how you play fundamentally. But knowing what to do is important as anything for us.

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