Michigan State G Travis Jackson Talks About the 2014 Spartans OL and the Change of Mind Set
SPARTAN NATION: How is this team different today than you were one year ago on the verge of starting spring practice?
JACKSON: We had a really tough season, obviously, in 2012. So going into that there was kind of a shadow casted from a 7-6 season, which wasn’t up to our standards. So we were kinda working hard to get back to where we wanted to be. And then this year is a different kind of shadow because we had a successful season. Now you’re almost sick of hearing about the old Rose Bowl team…you need to re-identify yourselves, do this and that. But the one great thing about having a great season is that you can build on that. With a 7-6 season you have to come back, and with the Rose Bowl season you can build on it. It’s really a lot different for me because I’m a senior now. As seniors, Coach D emphasizes that we gotta step up now, we have to have our best season, and we have to lead. So it’s just kind of exciting, personally for me, in that perspective.
SPARTAN NATION: Other than right tackle where Donavon is listed as a starter, this is a pretty solid offensive line as far as everyone is in their position. Coach really likes Kodi Kieler. What is it about Kodi? And talk about that Kodi-Donavon battle, would you?
JACKSON: Kodi Kieler is a guy who kinda came in this winter; his past year and a half of work has really shown…or past 2 years of work has really shown. He’s faster, stronger than a lot of the linemen out there. He’s just really kinda progressed and so we’re really excited to see how that carries over on the football field. Donavon is a guy that’s proved himself. His battle test has been out on the field. The main thing about that is it’s just so exciting to come back having so many guys with playing experience, because game experience to practice experience is just so different.
SPARTAN NATION: Is this OL better equipped to make up for losses that it’s been since you’ve been here?
JACKSON: Yeah, I think it’s just… When you get game experience it’s just so much more important. So we have a lot of guys with game experience, which is gonna be huge going into this.
SPARTAN NATION: Connor Kruse comes in as a walk-on, earns a scholarship. What is it that he does that you really like?
JACKSON: Connor Kruse is a really big, strong, athletic guy. He works his butt off. He’s one of my best friends, he’s a great guy. I’m really excited to see what he does this season because he’s a guy that’s just been waiting for an opportunity. He’s gonna do something with it when he gets a chance to.
SPARTAN NATION: What do you as players, especially as seniors, do this year to prepare now that you’ve had that success to not let that go or become complacent?
JACKSON: The coaches have really been pushing us hard this…we’ve had really tough winter conditionings, which has been awesome. The guys are really stepping up to it. The thing that I was talking about before is just that I feel like we can really build on that season that Connor Cook just talked about, the boost of confidence. Coach D always talks about moving the rock. We gotta come back and we gotta realize that we have to work for it. It’s a new season, but we also have to build on our last season and get farther than where we were before.
SPARTAN NATION: How different was this off-season compared to last off-season in terms of how you’ve carried yourselves?
JACKSON: Everyone’s working hard. Everyone’s out there doing their thing. There’s a whole other confidence level. Coming off a 7-6 last year was tough. This year its people are confident in the work, they’re confident in the work they’re putting in, they’re trying to get better. A really cool thing right now is a lot of guys are pushing each other. A lot of guys are challenging each other in the weight room, which is really fun. It’s created a really fun atmosphere.