Central Michigan will play host to Michigan State this upcoming Saturday in a game ripe with storylines. Current CMU head coach Dan Enos is a former assistant coach and quarterback for the Spartans, and he and Dantonio have a great relationship. And the Chippewas have gone 3-5 all-time against MSU, including a 29-27 win in 2009 at Spartan Stadium. Earlier today Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio addressed the upcoming matchup through his weekly press conference:
On playing a close friend in Dan Enos
"Yeah it's tough, I can sort of feel for the people I have played against, and it's kind of the opposite when I've been there growing up under them. Coach (Jim) Tressel used to say he didn't like playing against us. So I can sort of feel that. You want him to do well, you want Central Michigan to do well, but you have to take care of business on your side. When you go into these games you bring your football team and you get lined up, you respect who they are and play hard.
On what he sees in Dan Enos as a head coach and where the program is heading
"I know Coach Enos. Obviously he was in our program here and he also played here, so he knows the core of our players and he knows what Michigan State is about. When you become a head football coach and bring your own program into place, there is transition. You make your way through it. There is going to be problems everywhere you turn. There are always problems if you are here, there or somewhere else. I think the key to every leader is how you perform under adversity. I think he is doing that. I think he is performing. Based on what I saw the first game, they played extremely well and ran the ball very well. They look like they have a good football team."
On heading to Mt. Pleasant to play CMU in what is billed as their biggest home game in history
"I think it is going to be a historic event up there. We are looking forward to that opportunity. As far as them getting ready to play us and us getting ready to play them, there is a history here. They beat us in '09 so there is a history here of us having to play and play well to come away with a win. I am sure (CMU) is going to be very excited and I am sure they are going to play very well and play very excitedly. We need to be able to match that enthusiasm and execute as well.
On his team's advantage to play on the road at CMU
"I sort of shrugged my shoulder when this was thrown out there, to me what we get out of it is we get a chance to embrace the state of Michigan. Mount Pleasant, bringing commerce to that area, so we get a chance to do something for the state of Michigan. It is something we have always tried to do here as people and as individuals, and a lot of schools have the opportunity. But in a bigger and stronger sense, it's put up or shut up. We have an opportunity to do that, or we can sit back on not do that, so we took the opportunity to do it collectively as an athletic administration. To give it value, to make it a historic event, so that's one of the reasons. Second reason is if we are going to play an away game, it might as well be 60 miles up the road. It's in-state, and we make that our first away game of the season, with an inexperienced quarterback to get him some experience. And I expect there will be a lot of Spartan fans up there as well. But I think that will be an advantage for us to start the season, if we're going to go on the road, let's go close. "
On Andrew Maxwell's performance Friday against Boise State
"He was calm and collected and he showed great leadership skills. He had to handle some adversity, which is always key, and how you respond after that. I thought he threw the ball pretty decisively. He had some drops out on the field and there were a couple tipped passes that went away and were picked off. But, I thought he played well, especially for his first time out in a major media event or a nationally televised game, and also with Boise State and some of the things they were doing. There is no question we can improve. But, I liked what I saw when I looked into his eyes and who he was as a young man and a competitor, and the resiliency he showed and the nature he showed in terms of his leadership abilities."
On margin of victory and what it means in college football today
"I guess the only thing I would say there is they all count one, as coach Perles would say when he was here. They all count one. We feel fortunate to have won and the way we won the other night. That is what is important to me, in terms of how we perform and we move ahead. I am not really looking around the country and saying 'wow, this is going on or that is going on.' Everybody takes care of their own program.
How is Le'Veon Bell feeling after carrying the ball 44 times on Friday
"He is feeling great. He is dressing today. There is no more bumps and bruises than he would normally have. If anything, it creates some excitement for him that he was able to do that. It builds even more confidence for him. We are always going to ride the hot back here. Whoever is hot, whoever is making the yards, that is who we are going to ride. That is what we've always done here. We need to be effective and just sort of go with the flow in that situation. It's not like we don't have other running backs. We have a number of other guys that can make plays as well. It just depends on how everyone is performing in the game."