Skip to main content

Five Most Interesting Things Mel Tucker Said Ahead Of Ohio State

The Spartans have a big challenge ahead with the No. 3 team in the nation headed to East Lansing this weekend...

In the midst of a three-game losing streak, Michigan State head football coach Mel Tucker met with the media to discuss the Spartans upcoming game against the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Here are the five most interesting things that Tucker talked about at his weekly media availability:

1.) “The production you see in the game from [Elijah Collins], that’s what we see in practice. It’s been consistent and he’s been improving, and so, he’s earned the opportunity to go in the game. And, when he’s gone in the game, he’s done well."

Michigan State's struggles to run the ball these past several weeks have been well-documented, but the Spartans did show some improvement on the ground against Maryland.

One player who stood out to me was Elijah Collins, who had 36 yards on five carries (7.2 yards per carry) and scored Michigan State's lone touchdown against the Terrapins.

Collins has been regulated to a red zone and special teams role through much of the first five games this season, but I'd like to see him get more of an opportunity moving forward. Based on the quote above, it sounds like Tucker may be thinking along those same lines.

The reality is that the Spartans' offensive line needs to perform better for any of the three main tailbacks to consistently be productive, but Collins is the hot hand right now, so you might as well see what he can give you with more carries.

2.) “First of all, you have to believe … and then you have to strip the name off the jersey and go to work in preparation, and go on to play the next play during the game. Just take it from the meeting room to the practice field. Do it so many times right in practice where you can’t get it wrong in a game. Then, you take it to the game and you play one play at a time, never looking at the scoreboard. You just keep playing.”

Tucker was asked what it takes to pull off a big upset, and the above quote was his response. There's nothing really ground-breaking here, but I like the approach.

No one expects Michigan State to win Saturday's game against the Buckeyes. The Spartans are nearly a four touchdown underdog, and Ohio State is a team that most people expect to compete for a national championship. Beyond that, Michigan State has not performed to a level this season that would indicate they have any shot at pulling off this upset.

However, all the Spartans can do is go to work this week, put together a game plan and go try to execute it. We've seen some crazy things already this year in college football. For instance, just last week Missouri led then-No. 1 Georgia for nearly the entire 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 happened. 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 road game.

3.) “It depends on who you’re recruiting and what they’re looking for and what is their criteria. If I’m a recruit and I’m being recruited by Michigan State, I’m saying that’s a place that is hungry to win football games. They have a great fan base, great alumni support, it’s big-time football and I have an opportunity to go in there and contribute. If I come in here and I’m ready to play and I do what I’m supposed to do, and I can be a part of the build and the emergence and the surge moving forward. Those are the type of guys we need. We need guys that want to come in here and do something significant and do something extraordinary.”

Scroll to Continue

Read More

Tucker was asked about how Michigan State's 2-3 start to this year could negatively impact recruiting, and this was his response.

Whether people want to admit it or not, the Spartans do have a personnel issue with this team. Yes, there are talented players on this roster, but there aren't nearly enough of them. Yes, there have been coaching miscues, but at some point a player has to just go make a play, and that's not happening nearly 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 along the road, but Tucker has already proven his recruiting chops with this program. I expect the Spartans to stack a couple strong classes over the next couple years, and it will pay dividends on the football field.

4.) “We have to execute better and more consistently, and it’s not just [Payton Thorne], it’s everyone involved. We had a lot of drops, we had some penalties that killed drives, we had missed opportunities. And that all contributes to how it looks out there.”

This past Saturday's game against Maryland was pretty bizarre. In the first half, the defense could not get a stop, and the offense was on pace for well over 400 yards. Then, in the second half, the defense stiffened when it needed to and the offense sputtered and died.

Quarterback Payton Thorne has caught a lot of flak for his play this season. Some of the criticism is warranted, but I disagree with the notion that backup Noah Kim would be unequivocally better behind center than Thorne.

This goes back to the poor offensive line play and Michigan State's inability to consistently run the football. Thorne sees the struggles with running the football. He feels the pressure to move the offense down the field through the air. As a result, he's forced the issue on several occasions and that's resulted in turnovers.

Has Thorne's play lived 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's never made a collegiate start'? Yes, I believe there is.

5.) “You will always be defined on how you handle adversity, how you respond to adversity. Not just on the football field, but beyond. Outside of football, in life, you’re going to be in adverse situations … It doesn’t get any easier as you go. If you’re sitting around waiting for the ‘Easy Bus’ to come around, the ‘Easy Bus’ isn’t coming.”

Again, this quote isn't anything ground-breaking, and we've heard similar things like this from Tucker before. With that said, I still appreciate the message.

Nobody is feeling sorry for Michigan State after this poor start. It's up to this coaching staff and these players to pick themselves up and make of this season what they can.

That preseason talk about competing for championships — that's out the window. The rest of this season is about improving and finding out who's going to be a part of this program moving forward. That goes for players and coaches alike.

Recruiting after an 11-2 season is a little bit easier than recruiting after what this season has looked like so far. The 'Keep Chopping' and 'drag them to the Deep End' mantras have a much better ring to them when you're winning football games. It's time for this team and this program to go to work and start correcting the issues that have been so glaring in 2022.