Junior defensive end Will Gholston was the first to admit the Spartan defense needs to step it up after Fridayâ€™s game against Boise State, a game in which the star player had zero tackles.
â€œA couple of us guys, a couple of defensive leaders, feel like we didnâ€™t play as good as we shouldâ€™ve been able to play,â€ he said after the game. Â â€œWe didnâ€™t meet our standards.Â Iâ€™m not saying we didnâ€™t have a good game, Iâ€™m saying we want to play even better.â€
He said the defense knew coming into the game that the Broncos not only had an explosive offense but that they would refuse to back down from
anyone.Â â€œWe had the mentality that theyâ€™re a quick pass team and that we would need to get to them as fast as possible.Â I got to them once, but I feel like weâ€™ll be able to do more of that once we go against a drop back team.â€
Gholston also spoke about the personal foul he received for a late hit on Boise quarterback Joe Southwick.Â â€œYou play until you hear a whistle.
Thatâ€™s how you play from little league, and thatâ€™s what I did.
â€œI probably hit him late, but then I just had to play through it.â€
What appeared to be an extremely physical game did not feel different from any other game to Gholston, who said, â€œThatâ€™s just the way we play.Â Itâ€™s regular!â€
The outstanding performance of junior running back Leâ€™Veon Bell, which has fans and commentators already moving him up their Heisman watch lists, did not surprise Gholston, either.Â Â â€œHe played like a Dawg; thatâ€™s what I expect from him every year.Â I expect that kind of performance.Â Thatâ€™s my teammate, my brother.Â I have a tremendous amount of respect for him.â€
And not just for Leâ€™Veon, but for the Spartan offense as a whole.Â The defenders were seen cheering for their offensive counterparts throughout the game from the sidelines.Â Â â€œThat comes back to our chemistry.Â We know what our offense can do, and once they got the ball rolling, they did it.Â I appreciate having an offense who can do that and who can keep us off the field.â€
MSU will have to play well on both sides of the ball if it wants to have another successful season, but at this point it is the defense which has people talking.Â Â The Spartans were able to hold the Broncos to just 37 rushing yards on Friday, which seems pretty good to anyone watching from the outside.Â Gholston says, however, that the goal every play is to keep the opponent from gaining any yards.Â Period. Â With this mindset, 37 yards is too many.
It is this anything-less-than-perfect-isnâ€™t-good-enough mentality that has made the MSU defense so successful.Â Â â€œPlaying for the Big Ten, a power football conference,â€ Gholston explains, â€œmeans weâ€™ve got to be able to step up and dominate, not let them get any yards on us.Â Thatâ€™s how we practice.Â It doesnâ€™t matter who we play.Â Â â€œIf weâ€™re going to be championship contenders, weâ€™ve got to step it up to another level.Â If we want to be a championship team, we need to play like a championship team.â€
The path toward a championship season will continue when the Spartans travel to Mt. Pleasant this weekend to take on the Central Michigan Chippewas, a team coached by former MSU assistant Dan Enos.
Gholston refuses to take this MAC team lightly and says he will approach the game no differently than he approached Boise State.
â€œEvery game means everything.Â We want to go undefeated. We want to be the best team in the county.Â Weâ€™re going to play (CMU) just
like we played Boise.Â No â€“ weâ€™re going to play them harder.â€