EAST LANSING, Mich. — “You guys have got a lot more questions when we lose,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio quipped Saturday in his postgame press conference.
He’s not wrong. The Michigan State coach left when the questions stopped, rather than when MSU officials called an end to the conference. That just gave him more time to celebrate in a rowdy locker room after the 49-0 victory over Rutgers. The win ended a seven-game losing streak for Michigan State (3-7, 1-6 Big Ten), who cruised past struggling Rutgers (2-8, 0-7 Big Ten) at Spartan Stadium.
Truth be told, this was a game that should’ve been won. But the Spartans have been favored in a lot of games this year and haven’t come through. Just to get in the Big Ten win column is quite an accomplishment considering how this squad has played.
Dantonio offered his analysis of the victory. Here’s what he had to say:
Opening statement: “The reasons for winning: I thought we came out with energy. I thought … the second offensive drive for a touchdown was big. And then following that, Demetrious Cox’s pick for a touchdown was a big thing as well — and then the throw to Trishton Jackson, a true freshman, big run after the catch. And our guys just played well. We ended up plus-two in the turnover margin, which is something we’ve not been able to accomplish since the Notre Dame game. We stopped the run effectively. We stopped the pass effectively. A lot of three-and-outs defensively, the shutout defensively. And on the offensive side of the ball, 35-0 at half, so very productive in that area as well.”
On the fan support and locker room reaction: “I’m thrilled for our football team. Great job by Spartan Nation coming out to this football game. You wondered what the crowd was going to be like a little bit. They showed up, and they stayed throughout. I appreciate that very, very much. It’s a good feeling. You’d have thought we won the championship in that locker room. It’s been a long time.”
On staying the course: “The mindset has always been good. The energy has always been good. And really, when you look back at our games we’ve played, we’ve been ahead. We’ve played into the fourth quarter. It’s just, whatever, things haven’t worked at times. We’ve been resilient, I guess it’s what I’ll say. I think that’s a great character. It’s a great trait. I told our football team they’ll draw on this season. It’s not always the ups that bring you forward. Sometimes you’ve got to go through the downs.”
On keeping up the energy level: “I think we needed energy. We got energy from everybody on our football team, not just the guys on the field. We got energy from our fans, and we continued with that energy throughout. And when you have that, good things tend to happen. And we started to play with more confidence, and good things started to happen.”
On the youth movement: “Young players are going to progress. I think it’s interesting to note that our seniors have stayed the course, too. They’ve stayed the course. R.J. Shelton’s having a great year. I think Tyler O’Connor’s playing very well. Look at what he’s been able to accomplish really in the second half of the season. Really, he’s been solid. You get some other guys out there playing, they’re just hanging tough and playing through the pain a little bit. That’s something that’s got to be of note too.”