Spartans Prepare for Angry, Physical Hawkeyes

"He's very physical. He's a very good running back, he breaks tackles a lot like Javon does. --Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio on Iowa running back Shonn Green.

EAST LANSING - Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio is taking nothing for granted as his Spartans (4-1, 1-0 conference) prepare to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes (3-2, 0-1) Saturday at Spartans Stadium.

Dantonio says no one should be fooled by Iowa's loss to surprising 5-0 Northwestern last Saturday in Iowa City.

The coach said he realized that Iowa's defense, which ranks fourth in the nation and first in the Big Ten in scoring defense and fourth in the conference in rushing defense, will pose a solid test for the run-first MSU offense.

"It's a big challenge, Iowa is very stout up front, very well coached up front, their linebackers do a great job as well and a very disciplined football team, so it'll be another huge challenge for us," said Dantonio.

Defensively, Dantonio talked about the challenge of trying to shut down Shonn Green, Iowa's big tailback.

Green, who suffered a suspected concussion after being hit in the head in the team's loss to Northwestern, left the game in the fourth quarter and did not return.

"He's very physical. He's a very good running back, he breaks tackles a lot like Javon does. It's a different style offensively than ours is. They're a two-back run team, they don't use as much gap type blocking as we do, but [he's] a very good running back, outstanding, which I would say Javon is, so I guess they're similar."

Green, who ranks ninth in the nation averaging 133 yards per contest, is expected to start against MSU on Saturday. MSU's Javon Ringer leads the nation with 179.4 yards per game.

Dantonio still feels that the Spartans defense is in good shape despite giving up two big plays for touchdowns to the Indiana Hoosier's last week.

"Well, with no disrespect to (Indiana running back) Marcus (Thigpen), because I thought he did an outstanding job, but the thing that you have to talk about is, 'was it us or them' on those two plays?" asked Dantonio.

"The bottom line is the ball shouldn't have been completed on the one. We were in position to make the play and all we've got to do is knock the ball loose.

Number two, we don't fit the gap right and the guy who runs 10.4 goes shooting up the middle, we jump outside with all of our secondary, we're playing the pass instead of the run and it opens up a huge gap. So 'is it us, or is it them'? I'd like to think we can get a guy on the ground after 20-yards, " he said.

MSU host the Hawkeyes at 12 noon at Spartan Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

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