"This week up is Minnesota," said Dantonio. "I think it's a program game for us, no question about that. Sometimes you have your goals in mind, you have reevaluated your goals as you move forward. Right now our goal is to get to a bowl game.
"When you look at our football season, I know expectations were high among ourselves, and maybe outside as well. Sometimes I guess you take two steps forward, you take a step back, you plant your foot in the ground, drive forward. That's what happened after out 2007, 2008 seasons, we slipped back to 6 6, put our foot in the ground, moved forward to an 11 win season and another 11 win season. That's the case here."
One thing Dantonio was excited about was a roster decision for the 2013 season.
"Tyler Hoover has decided to come back for a sixth year," said Dantonio. "That's notable. We'll petition that. A big body guy, defensive tackle that has played a lot of football for us."
While fans have expressed concerns with the Spartans coaching staff, Dantonio when asked addressed evaluating members of his coaching staff.
"Basically what we do is we have an evaluation process that sort of is usually done at the end of recruiting," explained Dantonio. "Sometimes it's done after the season, obviously.
"But I think coaches have responsibilities in all different types of areas. One, they're recruiters; two, they're coaches. They have relationships with their players. Do they follow the rules? How do they act within the staff? Are they good people? What is their maturity level? I think there's all different types of evaluations.
"It can't just go in terms of what goes on the field.
"I would say that the responsibility with how we play ends up right here on me. "That's where it's got to start. So I take responsibility. When we come up three points short, what could Mark Dantonio do to change that aspect of it? We come up two points here or one point short here, what could I have done?
"I think everybody is soul searching a little bit. It's got to stop at the top and trickle down. It all starts with me.
"I think I mentioned it before, when something breaks down, you ask yourself, is that structural, mental on the players, physical breakdown, and how significant was that breakdown."
When asked if he's frustrated over the results of the season, Dantonio quickly explained why disappointment is the word that comes to his mind.
"My frustration level…I'm disappointed," said the Spartans coach. "I'm disappointed, but I'm not frustrated. I would be frustrated if we weren't coming to play. I would be frustrated if we were having off the field issues. I would be frustrated if all of our guys were flunking out. That's not the case. We have good people here. We have people doing the right things. We have people getting an education. Our APA may be as high as it's ever been in a one year period, they tell me up around 972 or whatever. So we're doing a lot of good things here.
"We've just got to win. I'm not naïve to that. I said that in the press conference. All that is good, coming close is great, but the bottom line is you do have to win. We have to understand that.
"My frustration level, I said before, we're building belief here in a program. If you look at the long term success of this program right now, we're coming. We're not there yet obviously. We had high hopes this year, but the reality of the situation, we probably didn't have the experience to go in at that depth."
As for this week's opponent Dantonio knows his team must be ready.
"It's an improved football team," said Dantonio. "I think Coach Kill is a very, very good coach. In terms of concepts, the same thing I say every single week, teams are tied together conceptually. They understand what they're doing. They've had some injuries, they've overcome their injuries. They have a dynamic player with Gray they can use at wide receiver or quarterback. They have a freshman quarterback that I think is going to be a very good player.
"Defensively they're hovering around in certain areas defensively in the top 30 in the nation, so they're an improved football team in that respect. They play hard, don't take one play off on any special teams play because they're going to fake something on you, whether it's a field goal, a possible punt or something. They're going to play to win.
"Our time going up to Minnesota, we need to make sure our mind is right. Last time we went up there, we didn't play very well. But I think it was Halloween and fate (laughter). Just want to throw that in there.
"But, no, they're an improved football team. I think they're a well coached football team."