Dantonio discusses defense, more

The OSU defense deserves a thumbs-up for their play this year. Defensive coordinator Mark Dantonio recently spoke about that and several other topics.

Some of the fans are asking about your job prospects. Are you interested in being a head coach in the future?

"I'm just glad I have a job here."

"I guess maybe at some point, yeah, that would be nice, but that will be a decision – that will be a family decision. Right now that is not even… we're not even interested in that right now."

Talk a little about some of the great athletes you are compiling on defense.

"We need to keep getting great athletes here and great players. You know, the tradition gives you a chance to get those type of players at a place like Ohio State, and I have said it before. You are able to get a good quality player who has been pretty well coached probably throughout his high school career and is usually a hard worker. If you get the right guys they are hard workers, and they are goal-oriented and are able to handle some adversity and play with some toughness and effort. Usually those are the things that set people apart I think."

What makes the defense so effective right now besides that great line?

"I think right now we are playing with a lot of confidence right now, and a lot of toughness and effort. When you combine those things you are able – you have a chance to be successful. We are playing fast. You know, Coach Tressel always asks me, ‘We play best when…' I say, ‘When we play fast.' He says, ‘When do we play fast?' I say, ‘When we know exactly what to do, we will play faster.' So, our guys have a good feeling of what they are asked to do, and they play with confidence and toughness."

Any players that have stepped up this year surprising even the coaching staff?

"We have pretty high expectations of our players, (and) you knew we had a great recruiting class the year before so you knew those guys would come along. I think that Nate Salley is playing very well. Some of our younger players have stepped to the front a little bit – Quinn Pitcock. We knew some of our older players would play well. I think Bobby Carpenter is coming along. So we have some young players that are playing significantly in their first year that are really starting to play well for us."

Is this group starting to play on par with last year's team?

"I think that is too early to evaluate. I think that has to come – that evaluation will have to come after 11 or 12 games. Last year's group (won) a national championship, and that is the measuring stick. You know, how we play, how we finish will be important. So, I think it is way too early to begin talking like that. We had some great players and some guys with a lot of experience, and some guys who had been there more."

What are your goals when you go into a game?

"When?"

Do they change from game to game then?

"We have individual goals. We have basic goals that we set, and hopefully if we are able to attain those goals we are going to be successful as a team. But, the number one goal is to win and whatever that takes. You try not to get to concerned with things statistically in terms of yards because turnovers are most significant thing that we have to be able to do, and then situationally, we have to be able to win situationally. Whether it is in the red zone (where) for example, last year we were very, very good. Or, whether it is coming out. Are we able to get the ball back for the offense inside the 50? You know, things like that are going to make a big difference for us, so…"

How big is this line for the defense?

"Well, any time you have a great defensive line -- we are fortunate we have great experience back, very good players back, but we also have enough people, young players, that we can roll in there to keep everyone fresh. So, any time you have a good defensive line, what ends up happening is your linebackers are a little bit freer because you may never see it but, you know, Tim Anderson may keep a guy off of a linebacker, and then the linebacker is able to run clean and make the hit. So, Darrion Scott might not be getting knocked back two or three yards because he is holding the point; he keeps people off of the ‘backers, so… Yeah. Domination by the front people is really where it all begins."

Why has Wisconsin been able to run against OSU now two years in a row when nobody else has?

"Well, I think that Wisconsin did a good job against us. They'll always keep you a little bit off balance because they are going to change things up on you a little bit. I don't know, at the end of the game they had the 24-yard run, and they had a couple other runs, but you know, we missed a couple of tackles. They've got good quality backs, and I guess you could say that. You know, if the game ends 13-10, we're probably not talking about it. You would have said, ‘you stopped him.' At that point and time in game, I think we had things under control."

Will Robert start this week?

"Robert will play. We will make a decision on his starting status at the end of the week."

How did you feel about how Bobby looked?

"Very, very good. Bobby played very well. He got a little banged up in there, but he played well, and Bobby Carpenter certainly (will) see his time as will D'Andrea, as will Pagac."

Can you talk about your linebacker rotation?

"We really have rotated five guys in and out pretty much throughout the whole season thus far trying to get plays for the young players because I really feel like the young players – Mike D'Andrea (and) Bobby Carpenter – are going to get better and better and better the more they play. We need to establish that because that establishes depth at the linebacker position, which is the same thing we have done at the defensive line positiong. That is a good thing. We have some seniors with experience and unselfish players who, you know, don't make a big deal about it."

So, is this something the coaches want to see continue in the future?

"Well, the more players you have – I would hope so. We were able to do that last year. Carpenter and Hawk played last year as true freshmen in that kind of capacity and Fred Pagac played as well as junior. Even when Matt was playing we rolled Freddie in there. So, those guys have seen playing time, and it just makes – it makes us a better defensive football team when everybody has game experience because I don't think there is any substitution for game experience."

Do you have any concern about the defense getting discouraged from the lack of offense?

"No, I really don't worry about that. This is a team game. We have been around this long enough to know that things can turn very quickly the other way. So, that is not – I don't worry about our guys. The score is nothing to nothing when you begin the game. It was 10-10 the other night and we were in control of the football game, and then boom, we gave it up. It can be on both ends."

Are you tempted to try and do more as a defensive coordinator because of the offense's troubles?

"No. No, we stress turnovers. We are stressing things like we always do to try and get the ball. That is just playing winning defense. The bottom line is how well we play on defense. Where we give the ball to the offense, can we get turnovers – much more important than yards. I don't really sense any discouragement; you just line up and play."

Is there more pressure since the margin of error appears to be less?

"I think our team tends to… Look at the NC State game where it is 24-7, (and) we're in control of the game. All of a sudden, we can't stop them; it's 24-24, and we can't stop them in overtime. You know, we end up winning because the offense plays well. We ended up winning 44-38. I know a lot of people don't remember that, but I really believe that in a competitive situation, you do what you gotta do to win. We have competitors. The one thing that I know on this football team is that we have competitors, and you do what you gotta to do to win. If we have to play a game 10 to whatever the score is, 10-6 like Purdue, then we have to do that. If we have to win the game 44-38, then we have to do that, and our guys have been able to do that."

How do the coaches keep from finger pointing?

"Well, I really think that most of our coaches have been on both ends of the spectrum. When you have been there before on the other end of things, it is very easy to identify with the other side of things. So, I don't – that is just part of the game. This is going on across the nation. You know, whether it is special teams, whether it is defense, whether it is the offense. Probably only one team hasn't gone through this…Oklahoma. Even at Miami, you see them almost losing a couple of games. So, whether they are complaining about the offense – whatever it is. You see defensive problems, you see offensive problems, and I think that there are a lot good football coaches in college football, and there are a lot of good football coaches in the Big Ten. I think that it is very, very competitive in terms of what people do against you. It is always about matchups."


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