Spartans stay relaxed and focused during extensive weather delay
“Rain, rain, go away, come again another day.”
The childhood tune can describe feelings of those who were in attendance at Spartan Stadium where the No. 24 Spartans beat the No. 7 Penn State Nittany Lions, 27-24.
As the Spartans were driving with 7:58 left in the second quarter and on Penn State’s 37-yard line, lightning struck around Spartan Stadium and sent the game into a delay. A delay which would last for just under three and a half hours.
Many Spartan fans, and those who were in the press box, were expecting the game to be postponed until tomorrow with the radar showing rain for rest of the day.
But postponement didn’t come up in discussions between MSU and Penn State athletic administrative staff, and the game resumed at 4:38 p.m.
“The first focus for us is always on student-athletes,” Mark Hollis said during halftime of Saturday’s game. “As you look at the progression of what happened, that was always at the forefront for both Michigan State and Penn State student-athletes.”
This also led to players and coaches being stuck in the locker rooms for about three hours.
Sitting. Waiting. Eating their post game meal.
And also taking naps.
“That was uncharted territory,” Mark Dantonio said. “We had guys laying down, putting games on, college football in the locker rooms, they were watching college football.”
Dantonio said he even saw one of his players come out of the shower. No really.
“I looked at him, he was like, ‘I just gotta be fresh, coach,’” Dantonio said.
That player was revealed to be linebacker Joe Bachie.
Wide receiver Felton Davis III was one of those players taking a nap, but woke up “ready to go” after fellow wide out Darrell Stewart Jr. kicked him “on accident.” Stewart Jr. on the other hand, was watching a movie.
“It was something weird,” Davis III said. “He watches some crazy stuff. I think he’s seen every movie known to man.”
Wide receiver Cody White was one those players who laid down and relaxed, and said the delay allowed them to rest their bodies, while maintaining their mental focus on the Nittany Lions.
“At that point, we’re just trying to keep our laser focus, and I feel like both players and coaches did a great job,” White said. “I grew up playing baseball, so we had a bunch of delays in baseball I’m kind of used to it. Just having gone through it before, I felt it helped me in this game today.”
Being relaxed and fresh during the weather delay, also allowed the Spartans to come come out and finish the game with energy still in the tank. After the delay, MSU exploded for 349 yards of total offense, with a majority of those yards coming through the air courtesy of quarterback Brian Lewerke.
Dantonio said having his players relax was the biggest thing, which allowed his players to get their “energy going again.”
But while Dantonio’s players tried to stay focused on Penn State and try to get some rest at the some time, Dantonio said he “didn’t ask them to keep an edge for three hours.”
“I said, ‘We’ll get the edge back and get ready to go.’ So, we knew at one point we’d have a half hour to get ready then 13 minutes to warm-up,” Dantonio said. “That’s when we went back in there and said, ‘This is what we gotta do," and periodically, coaches would go in and check on their guys. It was abnormal and we just tried to make it as normal as we could, like the beginning of a game again, with meetings and things like that prior to the game.”
For Davis III, who brought in 12 receptions for 181 receiving yards a touchdown with the 181 receiving yards being a career high, the conditions him and his teammates came out to didn’t hinder them. All thanks to Dantonio’s practice philosophy this past Thursday.
“He left the offense outside. It was raining, he left us out there the whole day,” Davis III said. “It was soaking wet. I was mad for sure. I was yelling at coach. The defense is dry, we’re wet.”
In the end, Davis III said Thursday’s practice helped them prepare for the delay and the conditions that came after it.
“I love the rain,” Davis III said. “We just try to bring the storm with us wherever we go.”