Michigan State Football Moves On With High Goals that Could Lead to Pasadena
Dave Warner, the MSU offensive coordinator, did what Spartan Nation expected him to do. He took responsibility for the R.J. Shelton interception play at Notre Dame. I am not surprised. I have said for a long time he is a good man and a man of character. Warner said to my friend and colleague Joe Rexrode, “I wish I wouldn’t have called it. I take it back, absolutely. Bad call.” His coach offered him cover, Warner wouldn’t take it. You can argue play calling or personnel rotation, but you can’t argue integrity and Warner has it.
Connor Cook apologized for voicing publicly his concerns that the staff had lost faith in him for inexplicably benching him for the game’s final moments. Not an apology for what he said, but for saying it; a big point and an important point. “I should have gone to him (Coach Dantonio), talked to him personally, handled things between him, and then not really say something like that to the media.” I agree with him by the way, but I never thought he was being vindictive, he was being honest.
Sitting at 3-1 with the nation’s best defense and punter there is simply too much on the table, too much left to play for, to let the first four weeks derail the Spartans 2013 campaign.
Think about this. Michigan State played a team that was in the national title game last year on the road with a young QB getting his first chance and lost by four points. We could rehash the bad, but let’s look at the good. It’s time to move on.
Mark Dantonio is not a man who believes in or operates on a sense of entitlement. After watching his Spartans blow the opportunity in South Bend he would not take the bait. His Spartans lost that game more than the Irish won it, but in a move usually reserved for the winning team he simply pointed folks to the scoreboard. “Obviously Notre Dame won the football game, so you have to say they outplayed us.”
Dantonio has many gifts. One of them is an amazing singular focus. He is able to sort out the distractions and he does it the right way. He said, “I think we played to win. I’ll never apologize to play to win. That’s what we try and do at all times.” If anything, the Notre Dame game becomes a bigger motivator.
Dantonio’s approach with his team this week has been direct. It has been simple. “Fix it.” He hasn’t coddled a well performing defense; he is asking for more. He isn’t screaming filth at the offense; he is simply demanding more. He isn’t allowing his team to divide into separate offensive and defensive camps. He is putting this on the team.
With that defense and the talent on the rest of the roster the Spartans have to dig deep, but you can look at the remaining schedule and there isn’t ONE game that you mark out as a loss. That tells you that there isn’t rest for the Spartans. They have too much to play for. They have a legitimate chance at it and even though the smell is faint, there are roses out there. Will they “Fix it?”
I don’t think the Spartans margin for error is very large. I also don’t think that rumors of their death are over inflated. They have a lot to prove, but proving something takes backbone, it takes character, and it takes integrity and talent. All four things they have. They have to show it.
I expect them to. Iowa should not be very excited to be next.