November 17, 2012

Dantonio: 'Turnovers the story of the game'

EAST LANSING - Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio blamed turnovers and missed opportunities for his team's 23-20 loss to Northwestern.

"When you look at the football game, we always talk about turnovers and how important they are and I think that is the story of the game," Dantonio said. " We lost 12 points in the first half due to mistakes and turnovers and then throw an interception in the beginning of the second half due to blown protection and it goes for a touchdown. Our defense gets no turnovers and they come up with four, which makes it very difficult to win.

"We out-rushed them, we had more first downs, more passing yards and third-down conversions, but you can't overcome mistakes. Our football team is playing hard, they are resilient, but you have to execute and get it done in those situations. Very disappointed, but like I said on the radio show I can't live in the past. You can only live in the present and the future. We have to get ready for Minnesota and are in a situation to be playing for a bowl game. Credit Northwestern for making plays. I think they played extremely hard and they always do."

Michigan State turned the ball over four times against Northwestern. The Spartans lost a fumble on the first offensive possession as Northwestern recovered a failed quarterback center exchange on a QB sneak attempt near the goal line. Junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell threw a pair of interceptions. The first was the result of a breakdown in protection. Freshman wide receiver [/db]Aaron Burbridge[/db] also fumbled the ball after making what would have been a critical first down deep in Northwestern territory.

The loss dropped Michigan State to 5-6 on the season. The Spartans need to beat Minnesota next Saturday in Minneapolis to become bowl eligible for the sixth consecutive season during Dantonio's tenure as head coach.

"We need to go to a bowl game," Dantonio said. "We have played better away from home so maybe that's the omen this year. We need to go to Minnesota with the mindset and right idea to get it done. I don't care what bowl it is, but that has to be the focus."

The Spartans did not win a home game in Big Ten play in 2012. Michigan State is 0-5 at home in conference games at Spartan Stadium.

"We've lost five games in Spartan Stadium this year, and to me that is unheard of," Dantonio said. "I've been here 12 years and that's never happened. This always been a great place to play and a great environment. I appreciate the support we had today and thought the fans showed up. I feel badly for them because I know they suffer too. All I can tell you is that you regroup and use it as a way to motivate you and bring you closer. You find value in what's going on and push forward. If you can do that then you have a chance to get better and move forward. If you look backwards and blame others, things fall apart. And we will not fall apart."

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