Where the shoulder pads come off and the interviews keep on rolling, MSU Media Day was a big hit. Everyone had a fun time in the casual event, as some teammates showed off their swagger in group pictures and personal portraits (looking good, Chris Frey). There was a lot of excitement swirling around the Michigan State football team. Spartan players and coaches were very optimistic when talking to the media about the upcoming 2016 season.
For any team, the most important person that the university and fan base wants to hear from is their head coach. And as always, Mark Dantonio did not disappoint.
There are several question marks entering this year. Which quarterback will start behind center? Will linebacker Ed Davis be granted a sixth year of eligibility? Thanks to Dantonio, Spartan Nation got a much better idea of what to expect in terms of progress and key players on each position.
Dantonio is very confident that fifth-year senior Tyler O’Connor is the answer at quarterback.
“We’re going to allow things to progress naturally with that position,” Dantonio said. “But he’s our leader right now, our headline guy at the quarterback position. We’re going to play it out.”
“He’s a hard-working guy. He’s done a nice job with the press. Our players have respect for him. He’s got toughness, can run with the football. He’s a big, physical guy. I think he’s got a bright future for us.”
On the other side of the ball, even though Ed Davis’s eligibility still remains in question, Dantonio is upbeat that he will be able to contribute this season.
“Our linebacker situation is very solid as well,” Dantonio said. “Ed Davis is coming. We’ll get that squared away. My plans are, he’s going to be a factor here.”
Dantonio also talked about the hero of the Michigan-Michigan State game, Jalen-Watts Jackson. He shared what he admired about him as a player and provided great news on his recovery.
“He’s a guy that obviously had the huge play last year which catapulted him to folklore attention,” Dantonio said. “I think he’s a great football player. Great ball skills. He can tackle. He’s tough. He’s a redshirt sophomore. Has a bright future.”
“Thus far there’s no indication of his hip being a problem whatsoever. He’s moving really well.”
Dantonio means the world to senior wide receiver Matt Macksood, as he has been like a father figure to the senior. Macksood shared why he appreciates his coach in more ways than one.
“He really and truly cares about his players and he will do whatever it takes for any of us,” said Macksood. “Whether that is helping us network with people or whether it is keeping us safe. We can call and talk to him anytime.”
“To see a coach who is not just all about football, he has a big faith life which is big for me coming from a Christian school. He is always trying to explore different faith lives, pray after practice, just the little things like that that I think a lot of coaches take for granted.”
The 60-year-old coach is about to enter his 10th season at Michigan State. When asked about coaching for another decade, he was uncertain about having enough left in the tank.
“Another 10? I don’t know about 10,” Dantonio said. “I got something left in me.”
Dantonio touched on the program’s culture and their formula for success.
“Culture is consistency, whether that’s winning or losing, it’s doing something over and over,” Dantonio said. “Right now we have a culture of winning. We need to continue to do that.”