Mark Dantonio was happy his team came away with a victory over Florida Atlantic in solid fashion. Nevertheless, he knows his team had areas of solid play and areas that will need continued improvement.
"Great job by our special teams when you look at how we won the field position battle. (Dan) Conroy, three for three. Three big kicks, to come out and do that really in his first opportunity to kick three of them and be perfect on that. Big kicks, all over 40, one 50 yarder. Great job by him. Also, Keshawn Martin with his returns, set ups and different things. That's a big positive and then Kevin Muma kicking off, he had great coverage down the field so those three factors I think lead to, I don't know if I want to say dominance on special teams, but I think today was a very big special teams day.
"When you look at us defensively, you got to put them away. You have to be able to put them away. And they made plays when they had to a little bit. We always had to look at things and say - is that a critical error? Is that a physical error? Is that a mental error or is that a structural error? Every single thing that happens out there and that's what we do. So we'll evaluate that. We played pretty well but two series we have to get off the field. Two different series. We did a good job down there with a jail break screen and we stopped them on the 1-yard line and they ended up kicking a field goal, but we did a good job keeping them out of the end zone so that was a positive. Offensively, I thought we played pretty well. You can't turn the ball over there at the end. You can't turn the ball over on the one yard line. Other than those two, which are critical errors, I thought we played pretty well offensively. We have to come up with more third down plays though. As I said before, we work to get better, we're chasing perfection. Notre Dame comes to us but we're getting ready for that game. That will be exciting, it's a night game. The atmosphere, it's going to be exciting."
One area of concern is how there seemed to be struggle in making tackles.
"I thought we tackled very well last week. We did not tackle as well this week on the perimeter. I saw some missed tackles. I saw some big hits and they ran through those. So we need to continue to try and work it. I think you get better as a tackling team as you move through your season. It's tough to go live during the season in practice because you can't risk injury. We work through different drills and we try to alleviate that problem."
One area the Spartans head coach is always happy to see perform well is the running game. Dantonio felt there was continued improvement from the Spartans offensive line as Edwin Baker rushed for 183 yards and a score.
"I think our offensive line is playing well and I think we have good running backs. I said that on the outset, going into the season. Those guys are a year older now. They're more experienced. They have more confidence. They understand the nuances of the running game. They understand what type of blocking they're getting exactly versus what front, those types of things. They run better. I thought it was a positive that we had no offside penalties on offense and defense. No misalignments as far as formation. We stopped some unforced penalties and that's a positive. I thought our offensive line did a great job. They have done it for the last two weeks. The challenge is going to be next week."
For the Spartans the next test will come next Saturday night as Notre Dame will come to Spartan Stadium off a loss to Michigan.