Michigan State a big mystery this week

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

When it comes to providing information and media access, Michigan State is one of the more open programs in the Big Ten. But not this week.

Head coach Mark Dantonio didn't issue a depth chart, citing lingering injury questions from the Spartans' loss to Minnesota. And he only allowed team captains to talk to the media, a departure from the standard routine, when all players are available for interviews.

The Detroit News' Eric Lacy called it a "bunker mentality."

Clamping down on media access isn't uncommon for major college programs, but you usually see it before national showcase games or major rivalries. Michigan State on Saturday hosts Western Michigan, a 4-5 Mid-American Conference team.

If it feels like the tension is mounting for the 4-5 Spartans, it is.

"Any time you have a football team that is all of a sudden 4-5 after nine games, you begin to lose a little bit of respect," Dantonio said. "I think that's natural. What we want to try to do is make sure we're regaining that respect."

Dantonio rarely discusses injuries, but health is a concern after running back Larry Caper and safety Danny Fortener suffered head injuries against Minnesota. Offensive lineman Joel Nitchman (knee) and defensive end Trevor Anderson (ankle) also left the game. Dantonio said the absence of the depth chart had nothing to do with performance issues, and he quickly dismissed a question Tuesday on the Big Ten teleconference about replacing quarterback Kirk Cousins.

"We have to see where we're at," Dantonio said. "It's purely are we going to play this guy over here, this guy over here, how are we going to align things based on injuries, that type of thing."