Spartans Fall, But Dantonio Talks Successes

"We have the banquet tomorrow and you have to think about that and know life's not fair. We will put a tie on tomorrow though and go to the banquet and celebrate together but also mourn together too. The healing will begin tomorrow and that's what you have to do." -- Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio.

"Right now what we have to do is regroup and understand that we are going to have the opportunity to go play in a bowl game which is a positive," said Mark Dantonio. "We have the opportunity to regroup and get ourselves ready to go even though there were some disappointing things in this football game - but I think we have competed very well throughout this season. I also thought we did that last year as well, and we ran into the same thing last year."

"We took a step forward I guess by having it tied at halftime, but the end of the game is the bottom line. We play a game for 60 minutes and we didn't get it done tonight. When you look at why, it starts with the head coach first of all, and then runs down to the assistant coaches. We have to ask ourselves if we did the right things schematically offensively, defensively and on special teams. That would be number one, and two would be asking ourselves what we did during the game in terms of calls and making decisions. The third thing is execution because we have to be able to execute out on the football field."

"I said before, that emotions are very important in this game, and when you think you can you probably can. But all the sudden when it feels like a wave is rolling over your shoulder and things get tough to do out there, it becomes harder. This was a game of confidence, and you have to credit Penn State because they are an excellent football team - and an excellent defensive football team because they tackle very effectively, play the ball in the deep part of the field, and get pressure with four players. When those things happen it puts you behind the ball a little bit and you have to find away to work your way out of there."

"In the first half, we had a couple drives down the field and across the field but we didn't score any points. [Penn State] had a couple of drives and chances on field goals, but they didn't get any points either. I thought it evened up there, but then they had one drive and we were able to answer it. The first half was pretty much even, but in the second half for whatever reason we could not capture the momentum back after the two scores. You have to play with momentum and enthusiasm otherwise things can always get worse and I think that's what you saw tonight," he said.

"I don't know if it was what we were doing out there as it what how we were doing it. We had some dropped passes and a couple picks but I thought we ran the ball okay in the first half and have a couple big runs. IN the second half however that's where it disappeared with the situation being the way it was. I thought our defense played well in the first half all the way until the last series. From there things started to spiral out of control in the third quarter."

On the plan for practices in preparation for the bowl game…

"The first thing that bowl practices do is reward your football season, and it's an opportunity to go some place with your football family and play a team that is from out of your conference. The second thing I think you do is allow your younger players and the ones that were red-shirted extra opportunities to get better. You work with them a little bit more and you try and develop them to give them a springboard before spring practice."

"You also get yourself healthy and we will get Rod Jenrette back, which will help us. You get yourself healthy a little bit with the players that have been knocked around and dinged a little bit a chance to get back. You overall critique your whole program in terms of what you are doing on the field and can find say ‘Hey should we change this, or do this,' because you do have time to do some of those things. You can't change it all but you do have time to tweak some things."

On this season sending a message to the underclassmen…

"I think if you want to be the best you have to play against the best, and you have to play well. Penn State or Iowa is probably going to go to a BCS bowl game and we had the opportunity to beat Iowa and we come up short. Then we have the opportunity to play against a great Penn State team, and we are in the game and we come up short again."

"In some ways you can look at that and say we are right there, but in other cases we are (much farther away). Somewhere the truth lies in between, and you take the fact that this will be our third bowl game in three years as success and a sign that the program is moving forward - and build on that. We have to have a good recruiting class and you have to continue to build your program."

On now turning the concentration to winning their first bowl game since 2001…

"We had a disappointed locker room because we all had high expectations and after last year I thought we were over the hump a little bit. We were in the game and we're right there so we have a disappointed football team. I had to go from one interview to the next so I didn't hear what they had to say, but it was a pretty quiet locker room, as you would expect."

"Our guys will compete and I think we have proven that, and the thing about football is you get a chance to get back up after you have been knocked down and we will do that. We have the banquet tomorrow and you have to think about that and know life's not fair. We will put a tie on tomorrow though and go to the banquet and celebrate together but also mourn together too. The healing will begin tomorrow and that's what you have to do."

On living up to the higher expectations that were set at the beginning of the season…

"It was so close in certain games and we lost some close games, but I don't know if that is necessarily the situation as opposed to making plays at the end of the game. Calling the right plays at the end of the game goes along with that as well. It's not all the players or all the coaches, but when you get into something like this I wish we could have come in here and talk to you guys about a win or a close loss as much as I hate to say that."

"They all count so the big thing we have to do is rebound from it - if it was a one-point loss at the end in the last second can be just as disappointing and just as devastating."

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