With Big Ten season looming, accountability a key aspect for young Spartans
Everybody knew it coming into the season. Besides bouncing back from a 3-9 season, the talk surrounding this MSU team was simple — the Spartans are young, incredibly so.
Thus far, 12 true freshmen have suited up to see the gridiron. Some are making immediate contributions, others are creeping their way up the depth chart. Different players come with different paths to playing time.
Looking elsewhere, the rosters says it all, it’s littered with underclassmen. It’s a reality MSU fans have dealt with all season.
“We’re a young team, we knew that coming into the season,” linebacker Byron Bullough said. “As guys just continue to get more experience, I think we’ll keep getting better and that’s exciting.”
So it’s like beating the same old drum, MSU will see the growing pains. After all, isn’t that what’s expected from an inexperienced team learning on the fly? Well, yes and no, according to the Spartans.
Between those highs and lows — the ones that make the green and white faithful exclaim excitedly, all while cursing — they’re on the field for a reason.
It’s why after the blowout loss to Notre Dame senior linebacker Chris Frey stressed how youth is no longer an excuse that can be liberally used. The young players on the team, the captain pointed out, have had enough snaps to the point they need to be more responsible.
There’s a layer of accountability associated with seeing the field. It’s an area one of the leaders, sophomore linebacker Joe Bachie, agreed with.
“Everybody’s got to be accountable,” Bachie said. “We’re three games in now. Even the freshman, I look at them, they’ve been out there. It’s time to step up now. You’ve got some games under your belt, time to go into Big Ten.”
Of course, the loss to the Irish was no one player’s fault. Football’s a team game, and that was seen as MSU suffered through its first defeat of 2017.
There were mistakes to be made, but it wasn’t solely on the young players.
And some youngsters have undoubtedly shined. Head coach Mark Dantonio compared freshman Josiah Scott to former Spartan All-American Darqueze Dennard once more. His play has been noticed amidst the hype MSU fans are generating.
Quarterback Brian Lewerke said he was impressed with Hunter Rison’s performance Saturday, the true freshman garnering some national attention. The quarterback himself hasn’t had much playing time; gliding through his first full season as starter.
Even Bachie, despite the cramps, is still a second-year player earning snaps as the starting MIKE linebacker.
It’s just that much like with any group of juvenile, impressionable college students, there have been both positive and negative takeaways. The Spartans might have been able to live with it early, but as Big Ten season looms, the excuses are slowly fading away.
“I think no matter how old you are, you’ve got to be able to make plays,” Lewerke said. “There’s a reason you’re on the field, it’s to make plays. I mean, early on in the season, you can maybe make the excuse that the growing pains are there. As the season goes on, that’s not going to be an excuse that we’ll be able to use.”