Michigan State Post-Game Quotes

January 2, 2012

Head Coach Mark Dantonio

Opening statement:
"Weve been waiting for one of these bowl trophies for five years so were thrilled to have it. I want to thank the Outback Bowl for making this a very special time for us. Outstanding job by the entire Outback Bowl community and everybody involved with it; this is a tremendous bowl. I want to congratulate Georgia on a great football game. It was a great game. They have a great football team and obviously played extremely hard as well. I want to congratulate our players. We talked at halftime, I guess it was 2-0 for most of the first half, but they had a couple of explosive plays late in the first half and go up 16-0. We just talked about if you want it youve got to take it back; keep believing. Just believe. And thats what our guys did. We came back in the second half and I thought just started playing well, starting playing a little bit better, tough to run on but we made plays and found a way. Darqueze Dennards interception for a touchdown and an interception really stopped them when they were coming out one time and got the ball down there. But two picks and came up with some fumbles. Great individual effort by Rashad White at the end of the game with the block, but our defense played outstanding I felt throughout the entire game. Offensively, big drive at the end of the game, the two minute situation with 1:26 to go on the clock. Thats why Kirk Cousins is who he is and you see some of our guys making the plays that they made. I thought Brian Linthicum played an outstanding game and had some big plays in the game as well."

On the Georgia defense:
"Youve got to credit Georgia and how they play. I mean they locked on. They got on our guys and they made plays. They have an outstanding defense. You see as the half and really as the game sort of presented itself why both defenses are ranked so high. Very difficult to run on both of them, but guys make plays. But credit Georgia and what they were doing. Obviously Im sure we wish we had a couple throws back but there were a couple of great individual plays by the defense as well."

On the importance of getting Brian Linthicum involved in the game:
"Our tight ends are a big part of our offense. The tight end screen, throw back tight end screen was a big play, probably about a 50 yard play to get us down there at some point in the second half. Obviously a big play. We hit a leap pass to him, sort of a trick play to him, on another one, so he was involved in two sort of trick plays that he made plays on. Obviously a big two-point throw from Cousins to him when he was not the primary receiver. Kirk came off the primary and went to him. He did a great job. Brians a great football player and hell have a great, exciting career ahead of him."

On LeVeon Bells touchdown to take the game to overtime:
"We were right there. Were six inches away. I just felt like, hey, youve got to get the inches. We talk about the inches all the time; youve got to be able to get those six inches. We felt like we had enough time to run it one more time and if not, spike the ball and have another down to throw it in there or whatever we had to do. But we were six inches away and it wasnt an easy six inch run but he got it in."

On the performance of the Spartan defense:
"I felt like we played pretty well in the first half defensively. They hit a big punt return. Great job by (Mike) Sadler all day punting the football. He pinned it in there with a great punt, but the guy got out, Boykin got out and made a great run. That was the second one. The first one was a long nod route. The guy faked the corner route and brought back to the post and hit us on that. But other than those two plays we really played them very well. At halftime, again, I just talked about youve got to believe in yourself and somebodys got to step forward and weve got to start that ball rolling; weve just got to get that momentum rolling. If we can do that, we can be successful, and thats what happened."

On beating Georgia in the Outback Bowl:
"Big win against a great football team, against an SEC team, against a team that won their division and was 10-2 in the regular season. Again, I think it just points towards us becoming an elite program in this league. Theres not a football team that we cannot play with and not win against. Weve done that. Weve beaten every football team in the Big Ten conference within the last four years. The standard has been set by our seniors. Were going to have to continue to work and grow as a program with recruits and different things. But everything is there. Two 11-win seasons, theres not too many football teams in the country that are saying that right now. I would think that this win would hopefully help solidify a top-ten ranking in this years final polls."

On Darqueze Dennards performance:
"Two big picks, again, resilient. He got beat on a deep fade, a deep long ball, got beat on that early in the first half. But he responded. Hes originally from Georgia. Big game for him. Two big interceptions, one for a touchdown. Our defense scoring. You know, if your defense can score, great things are going to happen for your team."

Quarterback Kirk Cousins

On intensity of game:
"There are a lot of guys on both teams that will play on Sundays and you had the third best defense and, I believe, the fourth best defense in the country and it shown in the way they played, and the fact it is was so tightly played it shows what a quality of a program Georgia is and a quality program Michigan State has become."

On Georgias defense:
"They have a phenomenal defense. They dont have many weaknesses and you saw by one of the interceptions how athletic the linebacker was to make the play on it, and the combination of size and speed they have is very impressive. We knew we were in for a long day with them fortunately we were able to move the ball enough to win the game, but we had our hands full with them there is no doubt about that."

On first reaction at the end of the game:
"Well, I was standing next to coach Warner and when the kick was blocked I gave him a hug because Ive spent more time with him in this program than anyone else. All the meetings, all the practices, all the film sessions and just thanked him for what hes done in developing me and just felt very, very pleased in how we ended it as seniors."

On different approach to preparing for this bowl:
"Well we certainly changed our approach to some degree but it wasnt a drastic change. I the decision to move practice to later in the day helped us to be a little more focused. Moving practice to the afternoon mirrored the time of the game. But we still enjoyed the week and made great memories, but its especially important to finish the way we did."

How does this bowl win change Michigan State's program psyche?
"Well, Georgia is as good of a team in the country as there is and, as I said, their defense is all that it was cracked up to be before the game, and the fact that we stood toe-to-toe with them and battled all game says a lot about our program and where weve come and where were going. Ive excited to have been a part of a program that was down and fighting to make a bowl game to now leave with two straight 11 win seasons and finish in the top 10 of the country hopefully, I think it shows what our seniors, and what our program has done over the past five years."

Tight End Brian Linthicum

On not expecting a lot of catches going into the game:
"Im always hopeful for a game like this and fortunately it came on my last one. You never know, you just play each play and especially after the first drop I had to mentally focus and get myself back around to making the plays I made. I think once I got rolling our tight ends coach has confidence in me to just go to me, every play we had, every trick play we had and just really unrolled the red carpet and let me make my plays."

On attempting the 2 point conversions:
"Its usually a 6 -5 or some variation of it and on the first one I guess they brought some pressure and left me wide open and fortunately Kirk saw it and hit me."

Center Travis Jackson

On what was said at halftime:
"It was definitely frustrating that we werent playing the way we wanted to play. But we just kept emphasizing that we were only down two points. So we just kind of relaxed and settled down into our own stuff and went after them."

Kicker Dan Conroy

On Georgia kicker Blair Walshs missed field goal:
"I know its a tough time right now so Ill be praying for him. Thats a tough situation but I know that hell do great things in the NFL. He had a decent season this year, although not at his best like hes want to be, but hell be fine."

On his confidence going into next year:
"A game like this just helps me moving forward. Every game changes and I dont necessarily focus on one game. After one game is over I move onto the next whether I do well or not. That helps me to continue going in the right direction and thats all I can do."

On the performance of holder Brad Sonntag:
"He did a phenomenal job, especially since we had a new snapper. Brad did a great job getting the ball up so I could hit it."