July 28, 2011

Dantonio senses 'a stronger belief' at MSU

CHICAGO - Mark Dantonio's characterization at the podium of close friend and mentor Jim Tressel as a "tragic hero" gave national media members the power quote they were looking for on Thursday at the Big Ten Media Days.

But off the podium Dantonio quickly made it clear that he was in the Windy City to talk about Michigan State.

"I am only worried about what Spartans are going to do," explained Dantonio. "When we go on the road to (Ohio State), Nebraska, or Iowa we have bring the right mindset and make sure that we are in control of our own destiny."

Michigan State's performance in the Captial One Bowl in a landslide loss against Alabama was a difficult way to end an otherwise storybook season in 2011. But Dantonio and his team are using the continuous questions about Michigan State's loss to the Crimson Tide as fuel for 2012.

"I think it sends a message to everyone that you are only as good as your last game," Dantonio explained. "You define yourself every game and there is always going to be somebody you have to measure up against. We have to get the point where we can measure up against anybody, anywhere in this country. Until we get to that point, we have not arrived at everything we intended to do when came to this program. We have not arrived, but I think we are closer. Expectations are getting bigger and that is a good thing. We define ourselves in every game in every year."

Dantonio believes his 2012 team possesses the best blend of talent and experience during his five-year career as Michigan State head coach.

"We have had some good players," Dantonio explained. "We had a couple of guys from the 2007 team up front that played in the NFL. But whether they didn't know the scheme or they did not believe in themselves or each other as well. I think know we have a confidence, a stronger belief as a result of last season, the past four seasons really. I think our players are physically more ready through the recruiting or through whatever.

"I think they also know. Knowledge is so important because this game is a game of reaction. If you don't know exactly what to do and do it like that, you are going to lose at the point of contact. I think now are players are more experienced. I think all of those things lend themselves toward us continuing to be successful at a higher level. When you continue to play the best, inevitably you should become the best and that is the challenge."

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