Aug 29, 2014; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio reacts to a play during the 1st quarter of a game at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State Coach Mark Dantonio Speaks of Opportunity Facing Oregon

It may be Labor Day, but now that the Oregon Ducks have the game with South Dakota out of the way, coaches, players and fans can now focus on the game we have been talking about since it was scheduled a few years ago. Oregon and Michigan State. Two top ten teams enter to battle for a leg up on a chance to land in the top four at the end of the season. The loser will still have a shot, but will have some work to do.

We’ve got to travel a long ways to do it..play in a hostile environment

Michigan State Coach Mark Dantonio on Facing the Oregon Ducks

On Sunday night, Michigan State Head Coach Mark Dantonio spoke with the media and shared some areas of concern heading into the matchup with the Oregon Ducks, “I guess you’ve got to look at that and say I wish we would have scored a little bit more in the second half and controlled the line of scrimmage a little bit better, but ran the ball okay but not as effective as I would have thought we would, but credit Jacksonville State, as well. I think they do have a good football team. They hustle around, they make it difficult. The score may not be indicative of exactly how good they are because they gave up some big plays.” It seemed to be the opposite for Oregon Coach Mark Helfrich as the Defensive effort could have been a little better for the Ducks. Oregon did clamp down in the second half for a shutout, but South Dakota was able to get some yards on the Ducks throughout the night.

Both teams played Freshman in the first game of the season, Oregon had nine on the field and some had a big impact. Running Back Royce Freeman ran for two touchdowns and Wide Receiver Charles Nelson had a punt return for a touchdown. The Michigan State Spartans played eight freshman, and Dantonio liked what he saw on the field, ” I think that Montae Nicholson played very well, had the opening hit on the kickoff, which was very impressive. Malik McDowellCraig Evans on the inside, you know, it’s a little bit more of a grind in there, and the tempo, For true freshmen they certainly – you saw Malik chasing a couple guys down and that type of thing, so he played with some effort there, but he’s got to be constant. Montez Sweat got a sack, limited role. I thought he did good on that particular play and played with effort”

As far as getting caught ‘looking ahead’ to this weekend, Dantonio said his team played it smart, “This is an opportunity early in the season to, number one, see where we’re at as a program, go play a very good away team away, go play a very good team away from home, which is always going to give you a different experience. We’ve got to travel a long ways to do it, play in a hostile environment, which we’re going to have to do later on. So you’re going to get those type of aspects, as well, and we’re going to use this game as a game to get ready for the rest of the season, just like we normally would.”

The Oregon Ducks and Michigan State Spartans meet at Autzen Stadium Saturday at 3:30pm Pacific Time. The game will be broadcast on FOX.

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