From the Other Side: Michigan State

Find out Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio's impressions of the Fighting Illini.

Ahead of Saturday's showdown with Michigan State, Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio spent some time in his weekly press conference to talk about his impressions of the Fighting Illini.

- On his first thoughts on Illinois and his relationship with the U of I coaching staff:

"I think they're an improving football team. Coach (Tim) Beckman is a guy that I've known for a little bit. He's a former coach at Ohio State after I had left there, a long-time defensive coordinator it seemed like at Oklahoma State, and obviously had great success at the University of Toledo. Defensive coach by trade, which I can identify with that a little bit. Coach (Bill) Cubit, being from Western Michigan, obviously has got their offense going, and on special teams, they cause a lot of problems. Young on defense, but obviously look for improvement in that area."

- On Illinois' improved offense:

"I think they give you a lot of different aspects of personnel groupings. They're going to be a no huddle team but a little slower tempo obviously than Indiana. But they're going to do different things from five wide receivers in the backfield to your traditional sets and some sets where they're going to put five offensive linemen on one side of the field. So they're going to create problems that you're going to have to work on, and then there are obviously a lot of things that are common offensively, as well, basic plays, powers and things of that nature, too. But I think it's very well tied together."

- On the Illini's offensive personnel:

"I think (Nathan) Scheelhaase is an established quarterback, a guy that can get out of problems and run with the ball. Obviously he's run a lot of option in the past, so there is some type of quarterback runs there, as well. They have the other guy that they put in, (Aaron) Bailey, as well, that provides them a little bit more of a Wildcat-type situation, and then also I think their wide receivers are talented."

- On the assertion that opposing offenses get up to play against the Spartans' staunch defense:

"I think everybody gets ready for a challenge, and when you come up here and you sit there and talk at an interview, you're going to try and identify what are your challenges and where is your focus at and everything. There's no question we're playing very well as a defensive unit. We lead the Big Ten in a lot of different capacities, a lot of different areas, nationally ranked in a lot of different areas."

- On Spartan linebacker Max Bullough, the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week:

"Well, he's a centerpiece for our football team. He's a very controlling figure, has been a three-year starter now, played on special teams as a true freshman in 2010. He knows our defense inside and out. He knows it as well as our coaches…He's very good in pass coverage. He's got great hands, and he's a very controlling person. He's a very communicative person. You need that at the Mike linebacker. He's a great blitzer, obviously. We blitz him a lot. We blitz a lot, period. But I think he's all over the field, and the bigger the game, the better he's going to play usually."

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