October 21, 2008

Dantonio: 'It matters to a lot of people'

EAST LANSING - Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio characterized Saturday's contest at Michigan as a "measuring stick" opportunity for his football team.

"I said one of our first talks when I came here, we are going to measure up," explained Dantonio. "I think that is the measuring stick for us and I'm not afraid to sit here and say that. I'm not going to sit here and say if we lose to those guys it doesn't matter. It matters to a lot of people.

"It's the same as the Ohio State-Michigan game. It matters. Or the Texas-Oklahoma game, or the Clemson-South Carolina game. That matters. They matter. That's what makes college sports great. That's what keeps people pushing and that's what keeps people excited and that's a good thing."
Coming off a 45-7 loss to defending Big Ten champion Ohio State, Dantonio is eager to see how his team responds on the road against a bitter rival.

"Obviously against Ohio State we didn't play very well, well at all," said Dantonio. "Give credit to Ohio State they played very well. We need to tackle better and not turn the ball over, etc., etc."
Dantonio downplayed the potential bulletin board effect that comments Brandon Graham made after Michigan's loss to Penn State when he said didn't see UM ever losing to MSU.

Dantonio said that comment was soft as bulletin board material. "That's fine. I don't see that as big material. Guys need to get ready to play. That's not an issue to me. I don't equate. I didn't take any offense to that, nor do I think any of our players. It's just understand that this next game is important for both programs."

On the big brother comments from a year ago, Dantonio was asked if he regretted what he said last year.

Dantonio said: "No I do not regret talking like that, and big brother is watching us, so I don't know."

When asked if he will remind his team about the little brother comment, he said: "Of course. Of course I would. We will use what we've got."

Dantonio also gave obligatory lines about bulletin board material only going so far. "I guess they (words) can motivate at times. But I always think that in the course of a game the actions begin to motivate. It doesn't really matter what I say to our football team or what someone else says because when you start to play t e game what happens in the game takes over."

When asked about the pressure of playing in a game against a rival that is 2-6, Dantonio said that the pressure of facing Michigan is no more this week than the pressure of facing another team. Dantonio said the difference between playing Michigan and another Big Ten team is the level of emotion his players have.


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