MSU’s Dantonio passes on ‘Hard Knocks’-style show

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — Michigan State fans got a behind-the-scenes look at Mark Dantonio’s life this week, and it appears they could have had a shot at getting an even deeper peek into the program.

The MSU coach filmed a day-in-the-life segment for “Spartan Football All-Access,” that aired on Monday night. And on Tuesday, Dantonio revealed Michigan State was approached by HBO about taking part in a show the likes of the network’s “Hard Knocks” program, which documents training camp for a different NFL team each season.

“I sort of passed on that because I didn’t really want to put ourselves in that situation,” Dantonio said.

It would have been competing with the Big Ten Network’s debut of “Scarlet and Gray Days,” which followed Ohio State through preseason camp.

“I think it’s a good show,” Dantonio said of “Hard Knocks.” “I’ve watched it and I think it’s well done. But we just passed on it right now because I want our players to concentrate on what we have to do here and not on a camera. I want us to be us and I just didn’t feel like at this point in time that that was something that we should do.”

This season’s “Hard Knocks,” which followed the Houston Texans, had plenty of Michigan State connections. Former players Keshawn Martin and Max Bullough have been with the Texans while Brian Hoyer was competing for the quarterback job and rookies Keith Mumphery and Kurtis Drummond were battling for a spot.

Dantonio added the idea of doing such a show isn’t completely off the table.

“Maybe in the future, but I just didn’t feel like that was something that we should do right now,” he said. “But our success that we’ve had here recently warranted that opportunity, but that’s what we decided to do because basically we get enough press.”

As for having cameras follow him around regularly? It wasn’t Dantonio’s favorite thing.

“It was hard for me because you’re sort of trying to do your job,” he said. “If it was good for you guys, it was good for me.”

Burning redshirts

Through four games, Michigan State has played five true freshmen and there is a possibility there could be more. Against Central Michigan, safety Khari Willis made his debut, joining safety Grayson Miller, linebacker Andrew Dowell, wide receiver Felton Davis and running back LJ Scott.

The decision to take a redshirt away, however, isn’t an easy one for Dantonio.

“I’m always trying to do what’s best for the program and also what’s best for that individual,” he said. “We take the redshirt off him, he’s got to play, just like Felton Davis. Every game, I’m saying, ‘Hey, Terry Samuel, get Felton — get him in the game, get him going, got to throw to him. Took the redshirt off him. He’s good enough, let’s go.’ That’s a part of it, too.

“So right now I’m pushing Andrew Dowell in the same respect and saying, only played seven plays this past week on defense. He needs to play more. Obviously LJ Scott is playing a lot.”

Backup QBs idle

Dantonio had hoped to get some action for backup quarterbacks Tyler O’Connor and Damion Terry at some point in the non-conference season, but closer-than-expected games kept that from happening.

Terry got a few reps at receiver in the opener and had one carry against both Oregon and Air Force. However, he did not play last week against Central Michigan while O’Connor, who is listed No. 2 on the depth chart, hasn’t played at all.

The plan was to get both some snaps, but it never materialized.

“Three of those four games, we were right there ready to do that,” Dantonio said. “Then somebody would make a play and it just would get a little bit dicey, so we stayed with our guys.”