Michigan State's Mark Dantonio: Late-game chaos threw me off a bit vs. Arizona State
EAST LANSING — Mark Dantonio accepted responsibility for Saturday’s end-of-game confusion.
At the same time, Michigan State football’s 13th-year coach continue to express belief that there was substandard refereeing in Saturday’s 10-7 loss to Arizona State.
Asked if he has submitted a no-call of a Sun Devils player hurdling the Spartans’ offensive line and running into long snapper Jude Pedrozo, on Matt Coghlin’s missed field goal from 47 yards out as time expired, Dantonio said “we’re in the process of that.”
Then Dantonio went on to add he felt he might have let certain penalties or missed calls bother him late in the game.
“There’s no game that you go through that is perfect from a standpoint of playing or officiating that situation,” Dantonio said on his weekly Sunday night teleconference with reporters. “When games are close like this, things can fall one way or the other based on a lot of things – some coaching, some playing, some officiating, whatever it is. But I’m gonna try to do the best, the best I can.
“If anything, I let maybe everything take me out of or allowed it to frustrate me to the point where maybe I’m not seeing as clearly. And that can’t happen.”
Dantonio also said he would not put the loss all on his staff after he shuffled their roles and responsibilities in the offseason.
“I think that the execution sometimes, it’s on the field or it’s maybe production, but you can’t put it all on coaches,” Dantonio said. “With 50 seconds to go, we have an opportunity to go down and tie the football game. And he makes the first kick. But we had an opportunity to win the football game.
“The bottom line is, at the end of the day, do you win? There was negative-yardage plays, but there was some big plays in the game, and then there was some inconsistencies. And that goes across the board, and there’s a lot of reasons for that.”
Along with the lack of a flag on ASU’s Cam Phillips at the end of the game, Dantonio brought up a few more instances he felt were egregious officiating. One of which came just before Coghlin made a 42-yard attempt that was negated because the Spartans had 12 men on the line of scrimmage for that kick with 11 seconds left.
On the play before that, QB Brian Lewerke spiked the ball after a 25-yard pass completion to Darrell Stewart to get MSU into field-goal range. However, Dantonio said the referees started the game and play clock before the chains were set – Lewerke snapped the ball with 14 seconds left, and the chain gang was still running down the visitors’ sideline to the spot, as seen on the game replay. Three seconds expired between the snap and the whistle.
Dantonio explained what happened next.
“Made the big play, the clock stopped for the first down, ref wound the clock before the chains were set, very quickly,” Dantonio said. “So we spiked the ball with 11 seconds. At that point in time, we were probably on the 25-yard line I believe. Had to make a decision on whether to throw it to the end zone one time or not. And it was pretty chaotic at that time, I felt like.
“So I hung there for 10 seconds, trying to decide whether to do that or not. And then we decided to kick it, just because we didn’t want to have a sack or something happen where we didn’t have time to kick a field goal – we’d go to overtime.”
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Lewerke said offensive coordinator Brad Salem had signaled in a play, and the offense had gone back out to run it. But Salem called them back with 15 seconds left on the 40-second play clock after Dantonio made his decision. Coghlin rushed out and made the kick, but senior Tyler Higby had remained on the field on the blocking unit for the field-goal try.
“Again, chaotic moment. We talk about the fog of war around here a lot,” Dantonio said. “But we had obviously a number of guys who were hurt on the offensive line. We had lost (Kevin) Jarvis and we had lost one of our other guys on the field-goal unit, so we had two subs in there. Inadvertently, a guy (Higby) who we said may have to sub for a third (Luke Campbell) stayed in to make 12 guys on the field.
“From the sideline, you couldn’t tell it. We had used our timeouts, so it was really irregardless – we were going to have to take a penalty on that.”
After MSU’s 5-yard penalty, Coghlin missed his third kick of the game. He had entered 7 for 7 on the season.
“Too many missed opportunities to win the football game,” Dantonio said. “I think we crossed the 50 (yard line) I believe seven times and stalled out or missed field goal situations, penalties, inconsistency, especially on the field-goal unit.
“Ultimately, it’s my responsibility. And I need to take responsibility, which I will. But as I said earlier, it’s disappointing.”
MSU (2-1) opens Big Ten play on Saturday at Northwestern (noon, ABC).
“Obviously, I’m disappointed. I’ll be pretty pissed off for the next 24 hours,” Lewerke said. “But after that, you just kind of just forget about it and move on to Northwestern next week."
Dantonio said he reminded his players the ASU loss has “no bearing on the Big Ten conference race” and that they need to “play up” as they prepare to head to Evanston, Illinois.
“We need to get ready to go for the Big Ten conference, so we need to be able to put this behind us,” Dantonio said. “That’s part of coaching, that’s part of being I guess mature or leadership within or whatever we want to say it. These things will happen across the nation, we see it every week.
“But it’s difficult to stomach.”
Dantonio did not provide an update on Jarvis, the junior left tackle who got rolled backward into an ASU defender and left the game with an apparent leg injury in the first half. He did not return.
MSU already was without left tackles Cole Chewins (back) and A.J. Arcuri (right foot), neither of whom were in uniform Saturday.
“Higby played the left tackle the remainder of the game, and we’ll see how Kevin is,” Dantonio said. “And we’ll look at our situation and see where everybody’s at and how everybody’s doing. We don’t really talk about the injuries like this that far in advance, because guys will be coming back.