Mark Dantonio and Spartans not looking past Jacksonville State

(WXYZ) - The Michigan State Spartans kickoff their season on Friday night, under the lights, against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks.

And while most Spartan fans are focusing on the Week 2 matchup against the preseason No. 3 ranked Oregon Ducks, head coach Mark Dantonio won't let his team fall into the same trap.

"This is a statement game," Dantonio said in his weekly press conference on Tuesday.

"If you can’t get excited about playing in Spartan Stadium on your first game of your senior year, junior year, sophomore year, then maybe it just isn’t happening for you. If things don’t go right for us, it will not be because we have overlooked Jacksonville State. And I can promise you that."

The Gamecocks finished 11-4 overall in 2013, and 5-3 in the Ohio Valley Conference.

The offense is returning most its production from last season, when they averaged over 35 points per game.

"You look at their offense, they’ve got over 3,000 yards of passing, over 3,000 yards of rushing, 6,000 plus yards in 15 games. They’re a balanced football team," Dantonio said.

Dantonio mentioned their two-quarterback system, that includes Eli Jenkins and Max Shortell, a transfer from the University of Minnesota.

Jenkins ran for 953 yards and threw for 887 yards last season, while Shortell threw for 1,608 yards in just nine games.

Running back DaMarcus James ran for 1,477 yards and 29 touchdowns, good for 8th and 2nd in the FCS last season, respectively.

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