Michigan State will look to end its season on a high note when it takes the field against Washington State on Thursday in the Holiday Bowl.
The bowl game pits the No. 16 Spartans against the No. 18 Cougars, and will kick off at 9 p.m. ET at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.
On Wednesday, Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio met with the media to discuss the Holiday Bowl.
Here’s what Dantonio had to say.
On Michigan State getting to 10 wins:
“I think every time you have an opportunity to play a football game you’ve got to be ready and you’ve got to be fresh and your mindset has to be correct, so we have to make sure that is in place. The opportunity to get ten, whether it is us or Washington State puts us in a double digit-type win category, both football teams, and not too many football teams in the country can do that on a yearly basis. That’s our goal. That’s our goal as we came out here was to play our best football and move it forward.”
On seniors playing in their last game:
“I think any time you take the jersey off for the last time or practice with your teammates you start to go through emotions, you’ve got to get closure. We try to make that special for them at the end of our practice and it becomes an emotional experience for some of our guys. Those guys have been — the playoff game, had some great moments here and we’re just looking for another life moment for them.”
On Brian Lewerke, and how he compares to former Spartan quarterbacks like Connor Cook and Kirk Cousins:
“Brian is a sophomore, so we have a young football team, much like Washington State. So I think for the future of the entire football program, both programs look pretty bright. Brian is a guy that can create in the pocket. He’s got the ability to recognize things quickly and get the ball out quickly. He’s got a strong arm. There are a lot of similarities between [Brian] Hoyer, Cousins, Cook a little bit with him. But he is his own guy a little bit, too, so the fact that he can create and has run for 540 yards net is a big positive. We have not had that with our quarterback situation in the past, but he can throw it.”
On bowl experience for the freshmen:
“It’s been different, an initial bowl experience for our freshmen and last year’s freshman which makes up 53 players on our team. That’s been a positive. I think our players are excited about everything. Everything is a new experience for these guys and you have half of the team leading them because they’ve been to the Rose Bowl or a Cotton Bowl or two.
“There are some positives on both ends there, and we have had a great experience and we’ve done what we needed to do leading up to this football game and now we have to close. To me, closing is playing your very best. Doesn’t mean you’re going to win but playing your very best.”
On Washington State’s defense:
“I think what gets lost in the shuffle a little bit is how good Washington State’s defense is, 15th in total defense, No. 1 on third down in the country in third down defense and they get on you, they play you tight, they provide pressure. A lot of different pressure, a lot of different people running from different places and you’ve got to beat them. So we’ve got to make plays on 50/50 balls much like they do. You’ve got to put the ball in the vicinity and the receiver has to make the tough catch and that run after catch is very important as well, so we’ve got to limit it on our defensive side and be able to exploit it on our offense.”
On key to come out with a win:
“When you talk critical to winning, you’re always talking about protecting our quarterback and pressuring third down that’s the name of the game in college football and pro football as well as, get him off his dime, his landmark and good things happen with the defense and if he’s able to throw with time bad things happen for our defense.
“That usually leads to turnovers or sacks, which takes — that’s always a key in every football game, I think, they have an outstanding quarterback. I don’t know how many records he has broken in the Pac-12. You go back a lot of years, a lot of great players. I think what they do is cutting edge conceptually, so we are going to have to play well and play up here. They are going to have to play fast, but play with their minds as well.”
On Washington State coach Mike Leach:
“I live in a bubble. I’m not out there surfing the net or anything. Always had a great time talking with Coach Leach, and I think he’s one of the outstanding coaches in this country and all the other stuff sorta gets put over here. I look at the coach. Outstanding coach. Guys, all good? Thanks. Go green!”