October 13, 2007
East Lansing, MI
Under the lights at the High Cathedral of the Spartan Nation, (I am talking about Spartan Stadium of course) was a beautiful victory.Â The Spartans gathered their biggest Spartan Stadium crowd of the season and the biggest win of the Mark Dantonio era. This was a fitting atmosphere and finish for homecoming 2007.
The Spartans had a 45-13 midway through the third quarter.Â The Spartan Nation held itâ€™s collective breath when the Hoosiers got the score to 45-27 to end the third quarter.Â The doomsday forecasters had been out all week.Â Iâ€™m sure they told everyone watching the game while they sipped their Heinekenâ€™s, that the old Spartans would rear their ugly heads.Â They were wrong.Â This is not the same old Spartans and they showed it.
Tonight under the lights the Spartans owned the Hoosiers on the ground and the defense played well.
Earlier in the week I had reported a conversation that I had this week with a very important recruit.Â More than one Big Ten School had pointed out to him the â€œnegativity of the Spartan fans against Dantonio.â€Â I was frustrated like most of you with the previous two losses.Â Certainly part of the negativity was justifiable, but the venom being thrown at a first year head coach that CLEARLY has to rebuild a program was absurd.Â Certainly you have to question the loyalty of anyone that claims to be a member of the Spartan Nation when they said, â€œDantonio was a mistake.Â We need to fire him as soon as the season is over and crawl to Brian Kelly and beg him to come here.â€Â
Rebuilding not only a program, but one that was once a national power to rival all national powers isnâ€™t easy.Â Dantonio failed to let thousands of empty seats and blistering criticism so early in his tenure dampen his mood or enthusiasm.Â He is a Spartan and he gets it.Â Instead, Dantonio, his staff and players believed that things would be different and they came out and showed tonight.
The Spartans had a performance on the ground that would make current Trustee and MSU Hall of Famer George Perles happy.Â With Spartan Nation legend Lorenzo White in attendance, Javon Ringer rushed for 203 yards and 2 TDâ€™s along with Jehuu â€œTHE LIBERIAN LUMBERJACKâ€ Caulcrick mauling them for an additional 97 yards and 3 TDâ€™s.Â The Spartans offense was incredible as Don Treadwell led this team with 558 total offensive yards and 45 offensive points.
The defense was rejuvenated this week.Â Jonal Saint-Dic tied a Big Ten Conference record with his seventh forced fumble of the season and the Spartans smacked the Hoosiers all night long. It wasnâ€™t just a win; it was the form of physical football the Spartan Nation had come to expect from a Narduzzi lead defense and a Treadwell balanced attack.
Once again Devin Thomas showed people why many think he is the best Spartan player as he accumulatedÂ 254 all purpose yards and a TD.Â He literally reached over the Hoosier defender and made an acrobatic catch that belongs on an ESPN highlight real.Â Dantonio characterized his star playerâ€™s efforts by saying, â€œHe looks like one of those guys on Madden football!â€
Mark Dantonio continued to demonstrate that he â€œgetsâ€ the Spartan tradition by having a homecoming cookout at the Duffy this week.Â â€œWe had over 600 former letter winners come back.â€Â They also had, â€œ12-18 former captains back for a meal in which every table had at least one captain at it.â€
Narduzzi talked about the attitude this week in practice. â€œWe went live all week in practice.Â We donâ€™t like to do that, but we needed to hit somebody.â€ Well said coach.
Dantonio challenged his team four times tonight on fourth down and came away 4 for 4.Â When facing a fourth and one at their own 40 early in the fourth quarter they got it.Â On a day the Spartans owned fourth down, I asked Dantonio about his willingness leave his offense on the field.Â â€œLetâ€™s just say that we were taking no prisoners.Â I have talked about football being a game of inches and it is about time we got some of those inches.â€
What a game it was for the Spartans. They amassed the points and the tenacity that has been lacking.Â There are losses ahead of us. You canâ€™t call them the same old Spartans without making yourself out to be a fool.Â This isnâ€™t a Big Ten championship team yet, but they certainly arenâ€™t as bad as many have said.
Dantonio is changing Spartan football.Â It wonâ€™t be a finished product in one season. It is a better product; the Hoosiers certainly thought so.Â â€œTheir running backs are very well coached and they are great runners.Â They were really tough to go up against,â€ was safety Austin Thomas assessment.
If I had offered the Spartan Nation a 5-2 record in June, everyone including myself would have taken it.Â Well here you go.Â Get back on the bandwagon and donâ€™t get off.Â There are losses ahead.Â There are battles left to fight.Â Who knows what the final record will be.Â This team showed you a glimpse of the future and now you have to be a true Spartan and support them.
Great win!Â The players talked earlier about winning one for Coach.Â This wasnâ€™t about appeasing the doubters. They wanted one for the man they knew was fixing this program, and they gave it to him.Â I asked Dantonio, the man who preaches team and MSU over individuals more than anyone, what this meant to him.Â He hemmed and hawed around my question.Â I pressed Coach Dantonio after his half-hearted, humble response to my question. â€œCoach you didnâ€™t answer the question.â€Â Dantonio bowed his head with humble sincerity and said, â€œTheyâ€™re buying in!â€
Your right Mark they are.Â Now itâ€™s time that the rest of the Spartan Nation does the same and buys into what youâ€™re doing.