Mike Sadler has placed 41 percent of his punts inside the 20 during his career and 24 percent inside the 10. He was named an All-American by several publications last season — all with a bad knee. (Dale G. Young / Detroit News)
East Lansing — Last week at the Big Ten’s Media Days, Mark Dantonio was busy extolling the virtues of the punting game and how valuable Mike Sadler has been to Michigan State.
Dantonio said 60 times last season, opponents started from inside the 20 and not once did they score a touchdown. That is because of Sadler.
And as serious as that role is to the fortunes of a team that has Big Ten and national championship aspirations, Sadler’s place as the team comedian is just as prevalent, as it was again at the team’s media day Monday. First it was the rigorous camp schedule.
“When (quarterback) Connor (Cook) is over there looking at his reads I’ve already watched my three punts I had in practice then I’m just sitting there killing time,” Sadler said. “They gave (the specialists) iPads so I try and figure out the best game and see who is the best specialist by the end.”
Then it was the focus he’s put on avoiding personal fouls, which he drew as a sophomore when tackling a player out of bounds.
“They were not happy with that one,” he said. “Anger management (has helped) … no, just not being an idiot is the biggest thing.”
He then mentioned the thick playbook he, the kickers and long snappers have.
“It fits on a sticky note,” he said. “I punt the ball, (Michael) Geiger kicks the ball, Taybor (Pepper) snaps the ball. That’s pretty much it. Sometimes I run with it, but we don’t get too fancy in camp.”
All kidding aside, the fifth-year senior has placed 41 percent of his punts inside the 20 during his career and 24 percent inside the 10. He was named an All-American by several publications last season — all with a bad knee.
Sadler had surgery on his plant (right) knee after the Rose Bowl, but said he is 100 percent.
“I tweaked some stuff in my knee but nothing too serious,” he said. “The medical staff did a great job getting me back in the game. I’m feeling better than I have in the last four years, so ready to go.”
Last week, Dantonio talked about defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi turning down several job offers during the offseason.
Narduzzi didn’t want to talk about what offers he did or did not have and did not want to speculate on the future.
“You never know,” he said. “It’s a tough business out there and sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you don’t. We can be better and I still might not have an opportunity (again). Maybe I want an opportunity at a certain place and I don’t get that opportunity. It’s tough.”
Michigan State has done its part, bumping his pay to more than $900,000 a year.
“No question about it.” Narduzzi said when asked if that shows a big commitment. “(Athletic director) Mark Hollis, (president) Lou Anna (Simon), coach Dantonio … I’m thankful for it and it is much appreciated.”
Dantonio, on the Big Ten Network’s survey, where most players said they would want to play for him: “It was humbling I guess when I saw that. But you know, they don’t play for me, so I’m more concerned about what our players here think of me and will they continue to play for me.”
... The 12th-annual “Meet the Spartans,” is from 5-8 p.m. Aug. 12 at Spartan Stadium. Dantonio and the players will be available for autographs on the south concourse. Admission and parking is free, and gates open at 4:30 p.m.