Amid a three-game losing streak, Michigan State football head coach Mel Tucker meets the media to discuss the Spartans’ upcoming game against the Ohio State Buckeyes .
Here are the five most interesting things Tucker talked about during his weekly press conference:
1.) “The production you see in the game from [Elijah Collins], this is what we observe in practice. He was consistent and he improved, so he deserved the opportunity to come into the game. And, when he left in the game, he did well.”
Michigan State’s struggles to run the ball in recent weeks have been well documented, but the Spartans showed some improvement on the field against Maryland.
One player that stood out for me was Elijah Collins, who had 36 yards on five carries (7.2 yards per carry) and scored Michigan State’s only touchdown against the Terrapins.
Collins has been regulated in a red zone and special teams role for most of the first five games this season, but I would like to see him get more opportunities in the future. Based on the quote above, it seems Tucker is thinking along the same lines.
The reality is that the Spartans offensive line needs to perform better for any of the top three brakes to be consistently productive, but Collins is the hot hand right now, so might as well see what he can give you with more carries .
2.) “First you have to believe…and then you have to take the name off the jersey and go to work in preparation, and continue to play the next game during the game. Just carry it from the meeting room at the training ground. Do it so many times in training where you can’t go wrong in a match. Then you bring it to the game and play one game at a time, never looking at the scoreboard. board. You just keep playing.
Tucker was asked what it takes to pull off a big upset, and the quote above was his answer. There’s nothing really revolutionary here, but I like the approach.
No one expects Michigan State to win Saturday’s game against the Buckeyes. The Spartans are almost a four-touchdown underdog, and Ohio State is a team most people expect to compete for a national championship. Beyond that, Michigan State hasn’t reached a level this season that would indicate it has a chance of pulling off that upset.
However, all the Spartans can do is go to work this week, come up with a game plan and try to execute it. We’ve seen some crazy things already this year in college football. For example, last week Missouri was leading then-No. 1 Georgia for most of the game until the Bulldogs took their first lead with four minutes left in the game.
No one expected Georgia to struggle with Missouri, but it did. This will be Ohio State’s first game away from Columbus. I’m not calling for an upset here, but maybe the Buckeyes have a few hiccups in their first game on the road.
3.) “It depends on who you recruit, what they’re looking for, and their criteria. If I’m a rookie and I’m recruited by Michigan State, I say it’s a thirsty place. to win football games. They have a great fan base, great alumni support, it’s high profile football and I have the opportunity to go there and contribute to it. If I come here and that I’m ready to play and do what I’m supposed to do, I can be part of the build and the emergence and the rise. He’s the kind of guy we need. We we need guys who want to come here and do something big and do something amazing.
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Tucker was asked how Michigan State’s 2-3 start this year might negatively impact recruiting, and this is his answer.
Whether people want to admit it or not, the Spartans have a personnel problem with this team. Yes, there are talented players on this list, but there aren’t enough of them. Yes, there have been training errors, but at some point a player just has to play, and that doesn’t happen enough.
The way for Michigan State to get back to competing for championships is through recruiting. It’s going to take time and there will be bumps in the road, but Tucker has already proven his scouting skills with this program. I expect the Spartans to pile up some solid classes over the next two years, and it will pay dividends on the football field.
4.) “We need to perform better and more consistently, and that’s not just [Payton Thorne], everyone is involved. We had a lot of drops, we had a few penalties that killed orders, we missed chances. And it all contributes to what it looks like there.
Last Saturday’s game against Maryland was pretty weird. In the first half, the defense couldn’t stop and the attack was at pace over 400 yards. Then, in the second half, the defense stiffened when needed and the attack spat and died.
Quarterback Payton Thorne has drawn a lot of criticism for his play this season. Some of the criticism is justified, but I disagree that replacement Noah Kim would be unequivocally better behind center than Thorne.
It goes back to poor offensive line play and Michigan State’s inability to consistently manage football. Thorne sees the difficulties in managing football. He feels the pressure to move the offense from the field into the air. As a result, he forced the issue repeatedly and it resulted in some turnovers.
Did Thorne’s game live up to expectations? No.
Is there a reasonable explanation for his struggles beyond him “just being a terrible quarterback who needs to be benched for a guy who never made a college debut”? Yes, I believe there are.
5.) “You will always be defined by how you handle adversity, how you react to adversity. Not just on the football pitch, but beyond it. Outside of football, in life, you will being in adverse situations… It doesn’t get easier as you go. If you’re sitting around waiting for the ‘Easy Bus’ to come, the ‘Easy Bus’ doesn’t come.”
Again, this quote isn’t groundbreaking, and we’ve heard similar things from Tucker before. That said, I still appreciate the message.
Nobody feels sorry for the State of Michigan after this bad start. It’s up to this technical staff and these players to get up and do what they can this season.
That pre-season talk about competing for championships – it’s out the window. The rest of this season is all about improving and finding out who will be part of this program in the future. This goes for both players and coaches.
Signing after an 11-2 season is a little easier than signing after what this season has looked like so far. The mantras “Keep Chopping” and “drag ’em to the Deep End” sound much better when you win football games. It’s time for this team and this program to get to work and start fixing the issues that have been so glaring in 2022.