Goals Still Intact for Spartans

Despite his team's 31-13 loss to Notre Dame, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio stressed the season is a long way from being over.

With his team hurting mentally and physically, Mark Dantonio knows the 2011 season still has many hurdles before it ends. Following the Spartans loss to Notre Dame, Dantonio stressed these points when addressing the media.

For the Spartans to win on Saturday, Dantonio stressed his team needed to do a number of things.

"I thought to come down to Notre Dame and play well we had to do a number of things," said Dantonio. "We had to travel as a team. I thought we did well in that area. We had to come down here with the belief. That belief remains intact and that will carry us through this football season. We also had to make plays that we had to defend. Those are things we had to do if we were going to be able to win. We had to sort of silence the crowd a little bit, we felt."

While it was not one play in general that decided the outcome of the game, one play that helped the Irish was the kickoff return by George Atkinson.

"The one big kickoff return in the first half obviously was a huge play for us," said Dantonio. "I thought the guy got ambushed, sort of pinballed into another guy. And they were off to the races.

"Obviously that was a huge play in the football game. We felt we needed to have one special team's play that would be explosive to help us win the football game and they got that play rather than us."

While the scoreboard didn't show it, Dantonio was happy with the way his defense played overall.

"Defensively we played very well the second half," said Dantonio. "We came up with some turnovers, two turnovers, actually. The third one was on a special teams play."

However, the Spartans head coach was not happy with the way his offense responded to the turnovers.

"Offensively we've got to do something with those turnovers as opposed to getting three points," said Dantonio. "That hurt us there and we had field position a number of other times I felt around the 50 where we need to convert on those things and have more opportunities to score points."

One play that had many fans wondering was the fake field goal before the half.

"The field goal at the end of the half, my call," said Dantonio. "It didn't work. Three points. But I don't think that's why we lost the game. But I'll take the blame for that."

When asked to expand on the play, Dantonio broke it down.

"They got some push right there on the wing side and they got penetration right there. So it knocked the tight end back, the guard back, and because of that it didn't go. He could not get around. Had he gotten around, looked like he would have walked in. But he didn't get around. End of story."

Despite the outcome of the game, Dantonio stressed what the future would bring for his squad.

"Our guys will continue to push," said Dantonio. That's the beautiful thing about being in a conference, I guess, is that our conference still remains intact. All of our goals remain intact. We'll get ready to play Central Michigan next week and we'll look forward to that."

The Spartans head coach didn't want to take anything away from the play of their host.

"Congratulate Notre Dame on their win," said Dantonio. "I thought they played very well, especially on the defensive side of the ball. And I thought they ran the football in the first half, which I think was the key to some of their success in the first half."

With the injury to Skyler Burkland during the game, many questioned the concern Dantonio has with his offensive line going forward.

"Obviously our offensive line is a bit of a concern because we're relatively young there," said Dantonio. "I thought (Fou) Fonoti came in and played pretty well. We can't have the penalties that sort of occurred in the fourth quarter. We can't have those things happening for us. And we've got to get a push and run the football.

"But whether it's the offensive line or whether it's the tight ends or whether it's the full back, all these things enter into running the football. The same with pass protection. It's a running back potentially that has the problem with pass protection or it's a tight end, or it's a route problem or it's a coverage or whatever. Or it could be the quarterback.

So it all plays together. And there's no one group of people that's saying, okay, they can't run the ball so it's the offensive line. That's not really how it works in the real world."

<a href='http://msn.foxsports.com/video/?vid=47d3df53-4a37-4cfa-a2b7-a3556075fd12' target='_new' title='Highlights: Michigan State defeated by Notre Dame 31-13' >Video: Highlights: Michigan State defeated by Notre Dame 31-13</a>

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