Dantonio laments Michigan State’s ‘unacceptable’ record

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio

East Lansing – As Michigan State finds itself in the midst of one of the worst seasons in program history, coach Mark Dantonio understands his team is not meeting expectations.

The 31-27 loss to Illinois last week was the seventh straight and left the Spartans at 0-6 in the Big Ten for the first time ever, a remarkable reversal from last season’s playoff team that won the conference title for the second time in three years.

"To win this thing back to back was the only goal,” Dantonio said Tuesday of what the preseason goals were. “Anything less would be unacceptable.”

That’s where Michigan State (2-7, 0-6 Big Ten) stands now with Rutgers coming to town Saturday.

Dantonio said the way the season has unfolded has been "shocking," but added: "I don't think we're in disarray. Like any team that's lost some games like this, we're struggling. We're trying to find answers"

The unprecedented slide of seven games had the Spartans meeting in position groups for what Dantonio described as “town hall” meetings where players and coaches could get everything out in the open.

“As we stand here right now it’s not where we want to be,” Dantonio said. “My main focus this week with our football team is that everybody has a future. And you can go in either direction. It’s your choice as a football player and a person which direction you go in, and thus far what I see from our football team is we come out and play hard, compete and have good practice.

“Now we’ve just got to play better down the stretch.”

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Who the Spartans will play with at quarterback remains up in the air, but Dantonio said fifth-year senior Tyler O’Connor was expected to practice later Tuesday after getting knocked out of the Illinois game in the fourth quarter.

Junior Damion Terry finished the game and Dantonio said Tuesday “both give us something.”

As for the status of defensive tackle Malik McDowell, tackle Kodi Kieler and safeties Montae Nicholson and Khari Willis, Dantonio wasn’t giving any updates. McDowell was knocked out of the Illinois game while Kieler, Nicholson and Willis did not play.