Coach Jonathan Smith and Michigan State Must Brace for the Season Ahead

Coach Jonathan Smith and Michigan State have spent the offseason recovering from an eventful offseason. However, the season will soon arrive, and Coach Smith must prepare accordingly.
Michigan State's head coach Jonathan Smith leaves the file after the Spring Showcase on Saturday, April 20, 2024, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing.
Michigan State's head coach Jonathan Smith leaves the file after the Spring Showcase on Saturday, April 20, 2024, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing. / Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA

Coach Jonathan Smith has spent most of his first offseason in East Lansing simply trying to make it through an eventful offseason while giving himself and Michigan State the best chance to field a competitive football team this upcoming season. Michigan State is in the beginning stages of a rebuild, which has led to many talks about the future and what to expect, as rebuilds usually take at least a few seasons. 

Make no mistake, the Spartans new leader inherited a mess, a mess he didn't create, but is now tasked to repair.

Rebuilding a college football program is no easy task, but Coach Smith is familiar with it. When he took over at Oregon State, he faced a rebuild, which he successfully led. After Oregon State won only two games in its first season under Coach Smith, the Beavers would win five games the following season. Oregon State would win at least seven games in three of the following four seasons, including a ten-win season in 2022. 

While Michigan State faced a different type of off-the-field battle with its previous coaching staff than Oregon State did before Coach Smith took over, the respective situations on the field are relatively similar. Oregon State won one game the season before Coach Smith took over and a combined six games the two seasons before. The season before Coach Smith arrived, Michigan State won four games, and five games the season before that. In three of the four seasons before Coach Smith came to East Lansing, Michigan State failed to win more than five games. 

As Michigan State inches closer to the first season under Coach Smith, his experience at Oregon State will undoubtedly help him. However, Coach Smith and his coaching staff must recognize that they face a much more brutal battle in East Lansing. They are in a better conference and have a more challenging schedule than Coach Smith ever faced at Oregon State.

As Coach Smith and his coaching staff prepare for their first season at Michigan State, much of the offseason focus has been on the transfer portal and future recruiting classes. However, Coach Smith and Michigan State have one of the most challenging schedules in the Big Ten and the country.

As Coach Smith and his coaching staff prepare for the upcoming season, they must consider all aspects of what they will face. It is a long season, and Coach Smith and his coaching staff must prepare their team for the physical and mental aspects of playing three teams ranked in the preseason top five within five weeks. It is the type of four-game stretch that can derail a season. Coach Smith and his coaching staff must find a way to use the first few weeks of the season to build the team's confidence and secure a couple of wins before heading into a four-game stretch no team in the country would want to play.

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Published
Ezekiel Trezevant

EZEKIEL TREZEVANT

Ezekiel is a former Sports Editor from the Western Herald and former Atlanta Falcons beat writer.