November 10, 2009

Dantonio sees Purdue as a team similar to his own

EAST LANSING - Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio made it clear that Saturday's game at Purdue is a must-win for his football team.

A victory would put Michigan State over the .500 mark heading into the Big Ten finale. It would also make Michigan State bowl eligible for the third straight season under Dantonio.

"It's a playoff situation for both football teams," said Dantonio. "I think it is similar for both football teams and I think both of our football teams are similar."

Dantonio sees Purdue as a dangerous team. Like the Spartans, the Boilermakers have lost a number of close games including games against Oregon, Northwestern, and Minnesota. The common denominator in those losses for Purdue have been turnovers.

Purdue has had fewer turnovers in games down the stretch in the Big Ten. Dantonio believes that the Boilermakers are a better team than their overall record indicates.
The third-year Spartan coach is impressed with the Purdue defensive line which has played a large role in their team's ability to generate 28 sacks in 2009. The heart and soul of that d-line is Ryan Kerrigan who leads the Big Ten in sacks. Dantonio likes the Purdue secondary, which features four seniors.

Dantonio has also been impressed by Purdue's senior quarterback Joey Elliott and the receiving tandem of Keith Smith and Aaron Valentin.
Elliott has close to 2,500 yards passing through the first 10 weeks of the season. Elliott has 15 touchdown passes with 13 interceptions. Elliott has completed just under 60 percent of the passes he has attempted this season.

Elliott leads the Big Ten in passing. Michigan State's Kirk Cousins is not far behind. The Spartan sophomore has thrown for 2,097 yards with 14 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. Cousins has completed 63 percent of his passes.

Smith has 863 yards with four touchdowns. Valentin has 603 yards receiving and 7 touchdowns for Purdue.

The Michigan State defense is also concerned with Purdue running back Ralph Bolden. Bolden has carried the ball 179 times for 855 yards and 7 touchdowns.


  • Benefit of Bowl Practice: Dantonio said that becoming bowl eligible and playing in a bowl would benefit his entire team. The biggest beneficiary of the extra 20 practices would be the younger players according to Dantonio. The third-year Spartan coach said that true freshmen and red-shirt freshmen would show the most growth during the month of December.

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