Michigan State LB Joe Bachie challenging locker room leadership
On a postgame radio show following Michigan State's 29-19 loss to Northwestern Saturday, junior linebacker Joe Bachie made a statement about leaders on the team needing to step up: “When you're put in a leadership position, you gotta lead. And if you don't wanna lead, well, you better get out of that position because the train is gonna move forward."
Coach Mark Dantonio's team dropped out of the Top-25 in this week's AP poll rankings, and currently stands at 3-2 overall and 1-1 in Big Ten Play.
“I talked to Joe about that, and I think he feels -- collectively we talked as a leadership group on Sunday,” Dantonio said. “Our players are, I think, in a very -- you know, it’s frustrating, and I think you see frustration when you -- I think you see frustration after a game like that.”
Bachie is currently one of three captains on the team along with junior quarterback Brian Lewerke and senior safety Khari Willis. They have played three seasons together in the green and white uniform.
After Tuesday's practice, Bachie did not want to add to his comment he made on Sunday.
“I don’t want to go too deep into that … (it's) in-house,” Bachie said.
With the loss to Northwestern already giving them their second loss through five games, many Spartan players do not want a repeat of what happened in the 2016 season, when the team went 3-9 and had one of the worst records in Dantonio’s coaching career.
“My motivation is at an all-time high,” junior quarterback Brian Lewerke said. “Things are really good when you’re winning, and that’s how it was last year. When you start losing, you start looking at everything and analyzing everything. So, we can kind of take all of that and use that as motivation going forward.”
Last season, MSU finished 9-3 overall, 7-2 in the Big Ten Conference and was ranked No. 13 in the nation. The Spartans put a cap on their turnaround season from 2016 by beating Washington State, 42-17, in the Holiday Bowl.
Willis said the team felt some frustration after the loss to the Wildcats, but as the Spartans get ready to take on No. 8 Penn State this weekend, he believes they can be ready for the challenge.
“There was frustration, but we put the past behind us,” Willis said. “We're looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead, knowing that we have a great opportunity for that this week. So, I think we’re just trying to focus our energy more towards that instead that over something we can’t control anymore.”
Dantonio admits there are problems on the field that need to be resolved, but there's not one particular source to this problem. He said it's a team game and everyone needs to pull their weight.
For him, it does not matter what position they are; leaders always can continue to step up.
“As a leader, I think, you know, as I said to our football team, when you are a leader, when you’re the head coach or when you’re the coordinator or you’re the assistant coach or the leader, captain, sometimes you have to be more demanding,” Dantonio said. “So that’s a part of it, and you know, looking for a response, and that’s what we all do.”