Spartans Receive Subliminal Message

Friday afternoon Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio released several things about his team leading up to Saturday nights Big Ten Championship Game. Dantonio, who has the Spartans in the first ever battle for a conference championship game under the new conference format, made sure his team got the message about what is at stake.

Since becoming a head coach Mark Dantonio has always looked for way to keep his team focused and headed in the right direction. Be it giving players nails while at the University of Cincinnati to help players remember they hadn't won the Keg of Nails trophy from the Cardinals in some time. Or any other game where something needed to be ingrained into the young minds of his players, Dantonio always seemed to find a way to subliminally put the message into their mind.

What did the head Spartans do leading up to Saturday's game in their pursuit to play in the Rose Bowl?

"We've always had subliminal messages to our players," said Dantonio. "We've got Rose Bowl things up around the facility. Felt something we should do this week is to put a rose in everybody's locker to just continually remind them about what we're trying to accomplish."

While the roses were a nice touch, Spartans offensive line coach Mark Staten took things a step further.

"Coach Staten was out there in the summer," said Dantonio. "He brought back a bunch of rocks from the Rose Bowl. Se we broke them up and gave everybody a little rock. So we'll do whatever it takes to keep that focus in front of them."

While roses and rocks make a strange combination, Dantonio knows what happens on the field will determine who punches their ticket to Pasadena. The Spartans offensive line must continue to play solid for the Spartans offense to have a chance to win.

"I think our offensive line has sort of reestablished themselves a little bit in so many different areas," said Dantonio. it all depends on the defenses, how many people they get up on the line of scrimmage at times and the different stunts and pressures that people use."

The fact the Spartans have a young offensive line doesn't scare Dantonio as he's seen the group gel and grow.

"They've done an outstanding job," said Dantonio. "They're young players. Dan France is in his first year as an offensive lineman. (Fou) Fonoti comes from a junior college, his first year here, Travis Jackson, Joel Foreman, a first-team all-conference pick, and Chris McDonald, who is a junior three-year starter.

"So you have two guys that are very experience, but the others are relatively inexperienced which is good for the future."

One area the Spartans enter the game at full strength is on defense as Will Gholston will be on the field and Darqueze Dennard and Kurtis Drummond return having missed time the past couple of weeks with injuries.

"Both of those guys have practiced the entire week," said Dantonio. "Darqueze will start and he's full-go. Kurtis was held out last week because he'd had a head injury the previous week or previous two weeks. So we held him out last week. But he practiced this week as well. He's been full-go, and he was cleared as of Tuesday, so he's had three practices as well.

"I would expect Jairus Jones and Kurtis Drummond to play equally as much. We feel they're both good players and they'll be in our nickel situations when we have five DBs in there.

"Will did not play in the first game, and we felt like we had good defensive ends and we recognized that. Denze Drone went in there and played pretty well.

"But with Will Gholston, he's a bigger guy. He's 6'6" plus, 280 pounds, he has extremely long arms. So from just a passing standpoint, it's going to be more difficult to throw over him, I would think. He plays extremely hard, he'll be very motivated to play. Obviously he can track people down. He's an outstanding football player.

"When you're a dominant player and an impact player, you need to take over a football game somewhat. So whether he takes it over or not, I'm not sure. He's only a sophomore. He has the ability to have huge plays and create a lot of problems for an offense."

Despite the fact the Spartans have had the upper hand against the Badgers, many feel Wisconsin has a better overall team and will cause MSU problems with their high power offense. The Badgers will look to use their offensive strengths against the Spartans defensive strengths. Could this game come down to whoever has the ball last?

SpartanDigest.com will be on hand for the game and have a game day chat going for those not at the game.


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