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Dantonio talks Irish

Sep 13, 2012, 3:00 AM EDT

Kelly Dantonio

With all the commotion surrounding Notre Dame’s future move to the ACC, some people forgot the Irish are playing in one of the week’s premiere games, when No. 20 Notre Dame heads to No. 10 Michigan State. It’s the first time the teams are playing each other ranked in the top 20 and undefeated since 1979.

Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio took to the microphone and discussed some of the challenges that go into playing Notre Dame.

“When you look at Notre Dame, I think first of all you look at who they are as people, their personnel, excellent personnel,” Dantonio said. “Defensive side of the ball, big, physical up front, very active linebackers.  Obviously No.5 Te’o is an outstanding player, makes it all work for them. Their secondary, a little bit retooled because they lost one guy, but they’re playing with a true freshman.  Good players, tackle very well, good ball skills.  I think they’re structurally very sound.  They play with great technique.

“You look at them offensively, a lot of things are geared around their tight end, Eifert, some of their other skill players.  They’ll get Cierre Wood back.  Theo Riddick is a guy that has been around for a long time, played very well.  Physical offensive line.  Quarterback freshman, exciting player.

“As always, Notre Dame is going to be a good football team.  They’re going to be a tremendous challenge for us.  We’ll continue to focus on what has allowed us to win.”


One thing Dantonio did against Central Michigan was put some pressure on his quarterback Andrew Maxwell. After riding running back Le’Veon Bell with 50 touches and putting the offense almost exclusively in his hands, the Spartans took their game against overmatched Central Michigan as a way to get Maxwell more confident.

“I felt like the premise needed to be on Maxwell this past weekend,” Dantonio said. “I wanted him to throw for 300 yards.  I wanted to get our wide receivers involved.  I thought that was important.  We can’t make it just on one guy running the football over and over and over.  We have to be two‑dimensional.

“I thought it was important to get in the flow of that a little bit.  I thought we tried to do that.  When we had to pound it in there, that’s what we did.  But we tried to do that some, especially early in the game.”

It’s worth mentioning that Maxwell completed 20 of 31 passes for 275 yards and two touchdowns. Certainly an improvement after his 22 of 38 performance with no touchdowns and three interceptions, but still not up to the 300-yard bar Dantonio set for a game against the Chippewas.


Dantonio was asked about the rather mediocre week the Big Ten had last weekend, with the conference going 6-6 with some high profile losses (Nebraska, Wisconsin) and a near escape by Michigan. As you’d expect, the plight of the conference doesn’t seem to worry the head coach, who though last year’s embarrassing loss to the Irish actually helped straighten his team out.

“I guess I would say last year we lost to Notre Dame at Notre Dame and people sort of wrote us off,” Dantonio said.  “We responded and ended up winning 11 games and beat a great Georgia team in the bowl game. A lot of things can happen.  It’s very early in the season right now.  I’m sure all these football teams are going to rebound and get themselves squared away in and out of conference.  It’s just the nature of it.”


Lastly, the Spartans know they need to contain All-American Tyler Eifert, who has been cleared to practice and should be 100 percent this weekend. Dantonio talked about the challenges Eifert posses.

“They put him out as wide receiver as often as they do at tight end.  He’s flexed out as a wide receiver,” Dantonio explained. “They’re going to force our defensive backs to play him.  So he’ll be all over the place.  He’s sort of like, Where is Waldo?  Ever see that cartoon?  He’s all over.  And he’s a very good player for them and they get the ball to him.”

Eifert had one of his worst games of the season last year against the Spartans, catching only two balls for 25 yards during the Irish’s 31-13 victory.

It is one of the overlooked factors of the Irish’s lopsided victory, but Notre Dame was out gained 358-275, and Tommy Rees only threw for 161 yards in the victory.


  1. yaketyyacc - Sep 13, 2012 at 7:50 AM

    listen to D’antonio talking up the Irish, and fretting about MSU. “….a one demensional team, running
    Bell…”, Coach you’re breaking my heart.
    No, coach, I remember what you said a couple of years ago, hurrriedly, to a reporter as you took the field at ND stadium. Q. What do you think about Notre Dame? Coach D’Antonio. I don’t care about Notre Dame. Only that we well defeat them and we will!”
    Remember that Irish, when you enter Sparten Stadium. “ONLY THAT WE WILL DEFEAT THEM AND WE WILL!”

    • nudeman - Sep 13, 2012 at 11:00 AM

      Here’s where he lost me: ” … very active linebackers …”
      Had he made that singular, as in Manti, I’d be OK with it

      But to call Calabrese and Fox “active” … come on.
      Only “active” in that they’re always running like hell after a receiver has them beat by 3 steps

      • 808raiderinparadise - Sep 13, 2012 at 1:36 PM

        The ND O-Line will be crucial in this game. They HAVE to give Golson a run game to ease him thru a loud-big road game, that and Cierre Wood needs a few lanes and hopefully the screen game he thrives at is used.

        I am not worried about the MSU offense one bit. Our Defense can do its job as long as the offense doesn’t keep them on the field thw whole game.

        This will be a close game, its all comes down to protecting the football and forcing turnovers to shut up the home crowd.

  2. ndfanwabashman - Sep 13, 2012 at 9:21 AM

    God I wish this team was still coached by John L Smith

  3. thobb - Sep 13, 2012 at 9:27 AM

    I hope a few players remember the below. I do. These guys make Michigan look classy.

    • jomilly - Sep 13, 2012 at 9:37 AM

      None the less we can use a quality win.

  4. bernhtp - Sep 13, 2012 at 9:42 AM

    Blah, blah blajh. Coaches usually say nothing, as D’Antonio does here. He enumerates the opponents’s entire team and says how good they are, and then goes on to talk about this own team’s execution as the key to victory. Same as everyone else. Insipid.

  5. zorichmidriff - Sep 13, 2012 at 10:06 AM

    I don’t like this guy. I don’t like his team either.

    • wisner74 - Sep 13, 2012 at 12:28 PM

      I don’t like D’Antonio either, but primarily because he’s the best coach they’ve had since Perles. Unfortunately, it looks like he’s straightening this goof-ball team out, and I always preferred the Spartans when they perform in ways (as they frequently have done) that make me think of them as the college version of the Minnesota Vikings: a group headcase.

  6. idratherbeinsouthbend - Sep 13, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    ESPN is reporting that ND will keep USC, Stanford, and Navy on their schedule along with the ACC games. If this is true, I can’t believe that they aren’t adding Michigan to that list. I know we’ve still got a contract to play them for the next dozen years or so, but I would have guessed that this would ALSO be an every year event.

    • nudeman - Sep 13, 2012 at 11:05 AM

      My guess is that they will still play Michigan every 3-4 years

      BTW, after my post yesterday, I now understand why Stanford is so important
      Guarantees they get to California every year. Great for recruiting and fan base

      BTW, I worked in Silicon Valley for 20 years, and it’s loaded with Stanford grads
      If there is a more insufferable group of alumni, I’ve never met them
      The arrogance is palpable from 30 feet away

      Admire the school; can’t stand the alums

      • wisner74 - Sep 13, 2012 at 12:29 PM

        Don’t know many Stanford grads. Worse than Michigan’s?

      • nudeman - Sep 13, 2012 at 12:49 PM

        Stanford grads:

        At parties they stand off to the side, trying to avoid conversation
        In fact they try to avoid eye contact as they sip their Chardonnay (Private Reserve)

        Khakis, tassled shoes with no socks regardless of time of year, hair fashionably long-ish, golf shirt with name of private club on it (but they can’t break 110), and their sentences frequently begin with “Well, Daddy used to say …”.

        F them and F Daddy

  7. mtndguy - Sep 13, 2012 at 11:35 AM

    This is a tough game to analyze this early in the year, particularly since MSU’s games have come against a young Boise State team, and a cupcake in Central Michigan. I think a telling stat is the 18 carries for 70 yards that Le’veon Bell got against Central Michigan. They did better against Boise State, but BS had to remake their entire defensive line. Notre Dame’s Defense is far superior to that of CMU and Boise State, they should be able to shutdown MSU’s run game.

    On the offensive side of the ball, Notre Dame’s offensive line had their hands full against Purdue. This can be remedied if the inexperienced Golson can get rid of the ball quicker, and if the OL can open a few more holes for the running game. Combine this with a little better time clock management and the offense should make some headway.

    All in all I think Notre Dame wins the battle in the trenches and pulls out a big W on Saturday, propelling them higher in the polls come Sunday. My money’s on Notre Dame.


    • idratherbeinsouthbend - Sep 13, 2012 at 12:03 PM

      All great points

      I’ve also got a feeling that this game will be won by more than one score. Usually, they’re decided by less than 7 points, but i think ND will win this one by two scores…9-15 point range.

      I’ve seen both MSU games and both ND games. Clearly Bell is the ONLY chance for MSU to win he’s the best running back in the nation (IMO), but his OLine isn’t any better than ours, and they have less experience too.

      QB play will be a HUGE factor in this game. More specifically…

      -Who turns the ball over
      -Who avoids negative yardage (sacks/throwing the ball away/etc.)

      • nudeman - Sep 13, 2012 at 12:52 PM

        I’d say these are the keys to the game:
        Good play on Offense
        Good play on Defense
        Good running game
        Good passing game
        Good LB play
        Good DB play
        Good OL & DL play
        Good special teams play
        +6 in turnovers

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - Sep 13, 2012 at 1:09 PM

        You forgot favorable officiating and good song selection by the band.

      • don74 - Sep 13, 2012 at 1:19 PM



        Figured one of the keys would be TR on the sidelines for 60 minutes.

      • nudeman - Sep 13, 2012 at 1:21 PM

        Taking a break from TR bashing, hopefully forever
        After all, he’s 53-0 as a starter and 1-0 as a reliever

      • don74 - Sep 13, 2012 at 3:21 PM


        Good to know the new regimen with the meds is working.

      • nudeman - Sep 13, 2012 at 3:59 PM

        Still some occasional Tourrettes-like outbursts
        So I’m promising nothing.

  8. bearcatirishfan - Sep 13, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    Wow nude you should start that list with Dear Santa,

  9. ndgoldandblue - Sep 13, 2012 at 1:45 PM

    Since we’re talking about coaches, I have a little off-the-topic discussion to bring forth. A lot of posters (some here, but mostly elsewhere) do not like Coach Kelly. Whether it’s his play-calling, personality, game management, relationship with his players, desire to make changes to Notre Dame Stadium, etc., there are a lot of people who find reasons not to like the guy. I’m still unsure that he can bring Notre Dame the kind of success that the fans want/expect, but I guess we’ll have a clearer idea of that after the 2013 season.

    But here’s something to consider. From what I have read and heard, the University of Notre Dame could (if they chose to) make any coach the highest-paid coach in college football. I could be wrong, but I think the University has the funds to make such a move. And a lot of people say that Kelly wasn’t/isn’t their first choice to lead the program, that there are more-qualified coaches out there who would make the Irish an instant contender.

    Let’s look at those coaches: Saban, Meyer, Chip Kelly, or Chris Peterson out of Boise State, perhaps. Maybe there’s more. Why hasn’t the University gone out and offered these guys the big-time deals? Who says that they haven’t? Is it possible that none of these big-name coaches want to come to Notre Dame? My guess is Notre Dame could offer Nick Saban a contract that makes his current one at Alabama look like chump change, and he would still turn it down. Not when he’s got that soft seat down there in Tuscaloosa.

    To be frank, I think that the coach we currently have is the best one we could possibly get. Swarbrick wasn’t small-time when he brought Kelly in. I think that if Jack could have lured Saban away from Alabama or Meyer away from Florida (or retirement, or OSU, or whatever), he would have done that. But those guys don’t want to come to South Bend and deal with the restrictions (academic or otherwise) that Notre Dame has.

    I agree that some of the things that happen during a game make me scratch my head in disbelief, and I think that comes down to coaching. However, Kelly was tremendously successful in Cincinnati, and I doubt that he forgot how to be successful between then and now. It’s just a matter of getting it done. All I’m saying is, if the Irish lose this weekend and/or next weekend or any time between now and the end of the year, we shouldn’t start complaining about Kelly and wishing we had a different coach. Think about it this way, if Kelly leaves (either on his own or by force), who would Notre Dame get that would be any better?

    • jerseyshorendfan1 - Sep 13, 2012 at 2:26 PM

      How about David Copperfield, The Amazing Randi or David Blaine because I figure they’re gonna have to be an effing magician.

    • wisner74 - Sep 13, 2012 at 4:26 PM

      I’m still onboard the Kelly bandwagon. I’m not ready to anoint him as the next Parseghian, Devine or Holtz, but he is light-years better than any of the last three guys. I agree that some of his game-time decisions (although not last week’s re Rees) are head-scratchers, but I think a lot of that has to do with his small-college background and he is slowly leaching that out of his system.

      I really believe that Kelly is building a top-notched program for us, and his record to-date does not accurately reflect the progress he’s actually made. I know this is going to sound like woulda-coulda-shoulda, but we were really close to a 10-2 regular season last year. The USF game was a horrible way to start the season. We literally doubled that team in yardage and still lost. We had Michigan on the ropes until we let them back in the game in the fourth quarter. The much-maligned Mr. Rees the led the team on what should have been a game-winning drive late in the fourth Q, but then . . . . Against USC we were about to score just before half when the second fumble returned >95 yards for a TD against us in the same season happened (You can probably go a decade without seeing that happen once to your team. It happened to us twice in ’11). Score could have been tied, or at least 17-13, at the half. Instead it was 24-10. An entirely different ballgame. FSU in the bowl is just a mystery to me though.

    • mtndguy - Sep 13, 2012 at 6:11 PM

      People forget that Kelly was one of the hottest coaches in college football, and most sought after when ND recruited him.

    • nudeman - Sep 13, 2012 at 6:53 PM

      I am still on the Kelly bandwagon

      There are some confounding things that have happened, primarily the QB mgmt and this ongoing nonsense with no one not named Tommy able to learn his playbook. Also I wondered many times here if 2011 was an anomaly with the sloppy play or if BK wasn’t that good. After 2 games this year, it’s looking like it was an anomaly. Also, the recruiting really is about as good as it could be. ND will always be a tough place to get the general population into.

      I’ve read that Saban, who is apparently a practicing Catholic, loves ND. Could ND make him or someone else an offer that can’t be refused? Probably.

      But I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Kelly has played by the rules at ND, has never embarrassed them, worked very hard to move the program in the right direction and unlike his predecessor has built some internal support. Overall there are more pluses than minuses with BK. By a lot.

      • wisner74 - Sep 14, 2012 at 6:11 PM

        Nudeman, one of these days I’d like to explore with you what seems to me to be your pathological dislike for Tommy Rees. Don’t get me wrong, he certainly has been a mixed bag. But you’ve got to give the kid credit for doing some things right last year (when he was only a sophomore!) and last week (already acknowledged on your part), not to mention the four starts his freshman year. I don’t have the time or energy to go into it right now, but suffice it to say that if you compare TR’s passing statistics last year with Brady Quinn’s sophomore numbers, you can make a quite plausible argument that TR actually had a better and more productive sophomore year than BQ did.

    • irish4006 - Sep 14, 2012 at 1:27 PM

      Where are you getting this idea that “A lot of posters (some here, but mostly elsewhere) do not like Coach Kelly. Whether it’s his play-calling, personality, game management, relationship with his players, desire to make changes to Notre Dame Stadium, etc.”? We are fans, we will criticize his decisions every now and then – big ones (playing TR and not DC) and no so big ones (moving Niklas to TE); doesn’t mean that we all believe there is someone better out there.

      I didn’t like Davie because I thought he wasn’t a good enough coach, stopped liking TW when he stopped getting good recruits and started complaining about high academic standards, hated CW since he never became a complete coach (had offensive success with BQ/JS combo consistently and some sporadic success with Jimmy after his freshman season; while the defense kept getting worse or stayed the same); I haven’t yet found anything like that in BK. I think he is a great coach and will be very good for years to come as he continues to build the team.

      There are some other inaccuracies in your post. We did offer Urban when he was with Utah, he turned down and went to Florida instead.

      We can’t make an offer to Saban that will make it look like chump change compared to his Alabama package. When it comes to football, SEC schools do no mind spending on coaches and facilities; regardless of the relative wealth vs. ND. Also, I don’t think he is a guy I can get behind as our football coach. He made some moves leading up to his current job at Bama that raised some questions about his character (if a coach leaves OSU to become the head coach at UM, it just doesn’t quite feel right, with or without an in-between job). I think you get the point.

      Kelly was the best coach available out there when we hired him. He is still a great coach. He needs time. One thing I do agree with is that you can’t get results on the football field overnight, even if you hire David Copperfield. It takes time.

      Based on his 2+ years at ND, I give him an B+ (A in recruiting, B in coaching). If he can develop Golson into a great quarterback and keep the recruitment pipeline going the way he has, it will soon be an A and we will start to see the results on the field.

  10. seadomer - Sep 13, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    MSU has not given an offensive TD.
    ND has not given up more than 17 pts

    SO D, not more than 17.
    Offensive, lets try 31 and may the last score be a TRICK PLAY!!!

  11. glowplugv - Sep 13, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    I found this summary this on the Bleacher Report from the Spartan POV:

    We should be so very thankful we have guy the caliber of Keith covering ND. In this report it states: “On offense, the line has to get a push against the vulnerable Notre Dame defensive line…” Wow, guess he should have listened to Coach D before he wrote the summary.

  12. irishdodger - Sep 13, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    My main concerns are the ND OL (who played horribly vs Purdue) & Fox & Calabrese continuing to be outclassed in passing situations. The other concerns are not the fault of the players in question b/c Golson & the new CBs simply lack experience.

    I think MSU stuffs our run forcing Golson to make plays which will likely lead to turnovers. Bell must be contained & Maxwell pressured or Sparty could blow us out.

    The only way I want to see Rees in is if ND is winning comfortably & he’s getting some garbage time. If BK gets an itchy trigger finger, this will be a loooong season.

    • nudeman - Sep 13, 2012 at 4:09 PM

      Those guys might have their positive attributes, but they’re slower than molasses.
      What about Councell, Spond, Ishaq, SOMEONE?

      Any team with the ability to isolate a couple WRs or RBs on a LB (that would be EVERY team, btw) will eat their lunch. I’m tired of this “Cat” and “Dog” and Will LB” crap.

      I don’t want to hear “they don’t know the D” either. Put guys out there who can run, not get faked out of their jocks, and who can knock someone on their ass. This isn’t nuclear physics. This is FOOTBALL.

      • don74 - Sep 13, 2012 at 4:35 PM

        Spond and Councell should be splitting drop this week.

        Williams needs a good game.

        Will be interesting.

      • dmac4real - Sep 13, 2012 at 4:37 PM

        First, to respond to one of dodgers sentences: “I think MSU stuffs our run forcing Golson to make plays which will likely lead to turnovers.”—–EG has showed absolutely zero indication of this. He has not lit the world on fire, but he has been pretty solid with not turning the ball over. He didn’t turn the ball over in camp, and he has 2 through 2 games (which is a great improvement). I just dont see an indication as to why Golson will become an automatic turnover machine. To me its been obvious hes been rather conservative, fearful of losing his job. That could be a good or bad thing, but it is a different topic for another day. I could be completely wrong about this, but from what weve seen of EG so far, he just hasn’t indicated hell turn the ball over too much.

        Nude: I really just dont understand your post. Youre essentially saying you want tough, smart, physical and fast football players instead of what we have. Dont you think literally every fan/coach in America wants that…? Obviously BK doesent want to trot out guys who cant cover a WR, but not every player is going to be an all-american. The point is to get a cohesive unit that plays solid defense, and compared to where ND has been, i wouldn’t complain to much about the D.

    • nudeman - Sep 13, 2012 at 4:59 PM

      I totally understand that, and I suppose Fox and Calabrese are playing for a reason.

      All I’m saying is that they are so woefully slow, and we’ve heard such GREAT things about Ishaq for over a year now that you’d think he’s a better option.

      Other possibility is they’ve been blowing smoke up our asses.

      • dmac4real - Sep 13, 2012 at 5:59 PM

        I get it. But the only other option is Grace. Ishaq cant play inside line backer im assuming. For a lot of teams hed be playing DE (like Penn St who recruited him). Id assume thats why we have 5 LB coming in this class.

  13. irishfb05 - Sep 13, 2012 at 4:59 PM


    What nude is trying to say is we have williams and shembo splitting time because they are “cat” linebackers or spond and councell at “drop”. Use your athletes and slide williams inside so him and shembo are on the field at the same time. If your system offensively and defensively is honestly that hard to comprehend than you need to simplify it it is not rocket science. Schemes and plays are all beneficial in helping put players in right positions to make a play but at the end of the day PLAYERS win games not some body thinking he is outsmarting everyone with brilliant play calls.

    The best coaches understand this. Phil Jackson is regarded as one of if not the best coach to ever coach in the NBA. While I am sure he is a great coach there are other coaches out there just as good who know the game just as well……however they didn’t have Michael Jordan or Kobe and Shaq on their team..makes it a little easier to win with great players.

    Calabrese and Fox have been lost in coverage since they arrived at Notre Dame it is time to find a way as a coach to get better players, which we have at our disposal, on the field. Even if they make mistakes they are going to get valuable experience. What does it matter if Fox and Calabrese know where they need to be if ultimately they are not athletic enough to make the play anyway.

    Ultimately I do agree with your assessment though that our D is miles ahead of what we are used to.

    • dmac4real - Sep 13, 2012 at 6:07 PM

      That would be a great solution, If you could actually slide Ishaq inside. The dude isnt an inside line backer. He was recruited by most programs as a DE, and i cant imagine he would be very successful as an inside linebacker. Add to the fact that hes already struggled dropping into coverage, being an inside line backer would just add to that times ten. Thats just not a good fit. They have tried to move other athletes insed (Rabassa and Utupo) just they havent worked out great. Its not a matter of this system being to complicated for MLB, its that nobody else can play it right now.

      The comparison to Phil Jackson or even basketball is just unfair in this situation. Basketball one player can go out and take over (KD or Bron for example). That is just so rare in football, and even when they do, it is because other players helped. Bill Simmons talks about coaching basketball in The Book of Basketball, and he essentially says that it is a players game. The same just cannot be said about football.

      Its not like im happy with Foxy/Carlo, just the only other realistic option at this point is Jarret Grace, and apparently he hasnt shown enough. Id be great if we had the athletic guys to go out and make the plays, but we need to actually get them on the campus first. I think we can all agree BK is working his ass off at doing that.

      • mtndguy - Sep 13, 2012 at 6:19 PM


  14. wisner74 - Sep 13, 2012 at 6:17 PM

    Regardless of what you think of him as a player, you’ve got to admit that “Carlo Calabrese” is one of the coolest names ever for an inside linebacker. Not quite “Dick Butkus” but close.

    • nudeman - Sep 13, 2012 at 6:57 PM

      Right up there on the cool-o-meter with “Luca Brasi”

    • zorichmidriff - Sep 14, 2012 at 9:24 AM

      I love Carlo—mainly for the memory I have of him tearing a Stanford Cardinal player’s helmet off and brandishing it in air while screaming. Where did that Carlo go?

      • irish4006 - Sep 14, 2012 at 1:37 PM

        Hanging out with ‘his people’ while we are stuck with this Carlo.

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