LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – It is ‘officially’ Northwestern week, however Monday wasn’t the first day Michigan State’s football team started its preparation for the 11th ranked Wildcats.
“We used this week to recharge,” said MSU coach Mel Tucker. “To try to get more healthy. To really focus on technique and fundamentals and ultimately just grind, here at State, in our football program.”
Michigan State had its most recent game against Maryland get canceled this past Thursday, due to the Terrapins’ COVID-19 outbreak, so Tucker decided to designate that day as the Spartans ‘off day,’ but once Friday rolled around it was time to hone in on the ‘Cats.
“We came back Friday with a walk-through focused on Northwestern and then we came in Saturday and had a ‘spiders’ football practice, which is basically shorts and helmets, and it had a Northwestern emphasis,” said Tucker. “Then the last thirty minutes of that practice we put the shoulder pads on some of our younger guys, so they could get three periods of padded work. It was more physical. Just obviously working to develop our roster the best we can.”
The Spartans are definitely going to have to be physical come Saturday and that’s because Northwestern is coming to East Lansing with a whole lot of momentum on its side. Thanks to its 17-7 victory over then No. 10 Wisconsin, the ‘Cats are 5-0 and the leaders of the Big Ten West division.
“Northwestern’s a strong opponent and they’ve got a really good team,” said Tucker. “They’re balanced (offense, defense, and special teams) and they’re very well coached. Pat (Fitzgerald) has done a great job.”
However, Tucker isn’t so much focused on Northwestern as he is on MSU.
“Regardless of who we play it’s going to be about what we do and how we play,” said Tucker. “How we convert on third down. How we run the ball. How our coverage units do on special teams. How we get a a body on a body in the return game and give our returners some room to make something happen. We also need to build on what we did in the second half against Indiana, defensively, with holding them scoreless. We need to build upon that.”
The Spartans will host the Wildcats at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday Nov. 28 and the game will be televised on ESPN2.