What will Michigan State do for an encore? Last season was one for the ages, as the Spartans went 13-1, won the Big Ten and captured the Rose Bowl. The challenge is to stay hungry. Will MSU still have that chip on the shoulder? That spark? That desire to win big now that the Spartans have scaled the summit?
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio has a lot to work with, especially on offense. There’s QB Connor Cook, RB Jeremy Langford and WRs like Tony Lippett, Macgarrett Kings, Jr., and Aaron Burbridge.
The defense? It has become the identity of the program but must replace six starters. Still, the building blocks are there, with players like E Shilique Calhoun, CB Trae Waynes and LB Taiwan Jones back. And that has some pundits thinking big about MSU again.
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So, coach: What is it like to be the “hunted”?
“I termed ourselves one of the hunted, not the hunted,” said Dantonio. “We’re not looking for any entitlement. We’ll get what we earn.
“We are always about taking care of ourselves. We get what we earn. I don’t know how to respond any different. We have had a knack for winning games in recent years. We need to try to gain more ground. Respectability can fly out the widow quickly.”
Michigan State’s goal is to earn a playoff spot. And, it certainly has the schedule to do so, beginning with a big game at Oregon in the second game of the season that will go as long way in shaping MSU’s year.
“We’re coming with at least one bona fide big game as we move forward,” Dantonio said. “We need to gain experience from that game, win or lose.”
Challenges in the new, rugged Big Ten East loom, too. But the good news for the Spartans: Michigan and Ohio State both come to East Lansing this season. Add it all up, don’t be shocked if Michigan State is back in the Big Ten championship game again.
|About Tom Dienhart||BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.|
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