MSU head coach Mark Dantonio talks about the Spartans' ball-security issues, as well as preparing for Iowa. Matt Charboneau, The Detroit News
East Lansing — While Michigan gets to turn its focus to Michigan State a bit early with a bye this week, Michigan State is busy preparing to open Big Ten play on Saturday against Iowa.
And while there was plenty of buzz after the Monday announcement that the rivalry game Oct. 7 in Ann Arbor would be played in primetime under the lights, Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio was far more concerned on Tuesday about this week’s kickoff time.
“I’m just focused on the task at hand, really. Just focused on the present, so we’ll deal with that next week,” Dantonio said at his weekly news conference. “We’ve played at night in other places, so the lights are gonna come on. We’ve got to play, but I really haven’t looked at that I just noticed we’re playing at 7:30. More importantly, we’re playing at 4 (this week). That’s what’s most important this week.”
It’s the first time in the history of the series the game will be played at night, but first Michigan State welcomes in an Iowa team that is coming off a loss on the final play last week against Penn State.
Dantonio said he doesn’t believe the loss will affect Iowa in a negative way coming into Saturday’s game, and added he wouldn’t use it as an excuse if the Spartans were coming off the same type of loss.
What the Spartans are dealing with is trying to bounce back from the 38-18 loss to Notre Dame where the growing trend of giving the ball away led to 21 Irish points.
“You’ve got to hold on to the football. That’s just the nature of it,” Dantonio said. “And we continue to work ball-security drills and try and make them as game like as we can. But there is nothing like the game when it’s real contact, real physical contact, and you really can’t simulate that totally in every practice. You can try. We certainly do try throughout the entire practice. But that’s something we just have to do. We have to do that.”