Spartans head into bye week hungry for Notre Dame
Through MSU football’s first two regular seasons games this month, the Spartans have notched a 2-0 record, generated momentum and remained relatively healthy.
The Spartans will not play on the gridiron this weekend as they have an early season bye.
The timing of the off week is something that junior running back L.J. Scott wishes was placed later in the season.
“Honestly, I wish the bye week was a little later,” Scott said. “I can’t do anything about it. I don’t make the schedule, but at the same time, it’ll also help us prepare for a good team like Notre Dame and get us back to it’s more about us and knowing what we need to do and doing that at a hundred percent. And obviously, when we do it at a hundred percent, we’re playing Spartan ball.”
The early bye week, however, is not unfamiliar to the Spartans.
Last season, MSU played just one game before the team had its bye week.
After a 28-13 season-opening win over Furman in 2016, the team was left with two weeks to prepare for Notre Dame, its next opponent. The team would come away with a win on the road, but would lose seven straight after the win out of the bye week.
Now, with two regular season games completed, the Spartans have two weeks to study Notre Dame once again, as the Spartans will take on the Fighting Irish next weekend in a marquee Saturday night matchup.
“We’re just going to treat it like it’s a regular game,” true freshman wide receiver Laress Nelson said. “We’re going to keep competing and keep getting better, so that's our main goal right now, just keep getting better.”
While Scott is clearly opposed to the early bye, sophomore defensive end Kenny Willekes is indifferent on the matter.
“For me, it doesn’t really matter when the bye week is,” Willekes said. “I’m going to come in each day, every day, week in and week out, and work no matter what, so I don’t really care when the bye week is. We’re just going to come to play each and every week as a team.”
A key part in MSU’s success thus far this season has been its defense, which is seemingly trying to earn back the “No Fly Zone” catchphrase it used to hold.
This season, the Spartans defense has allowed zero touchdowns through two games, and while the Spartans offense has accumulated 922 yards of total offense, their defense has managed to only allow their opponents to record 407 total offensive yards.
Sacks were hard to get for the Spartans last season, with MSU recording just 11 total sacks throughout the entire 2016 season. Now, with two of 12 regular season games completed, the Spartans are quickly closing in on that number as they have already logged five sacks in 2017.
Although the team will have the weekend off to rest and heal their bodies, Willekes believes the bye week will help build more of the team’s confidence.
“I think our defense and our whole team together, we’ve been playing with so much confidence,” he said. “I don’t think a bye week will take that confidence away; I think it’ll give us more. We have more time to prepare. We’re going to be ready, we’re going to be fresh and we’re going to be good to go against Notre Dame.”