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Mel Tucker talks Rutgers win, Indiana matchup at Monday press conference

November 14, 2022
<p>#12 Chester Kimbrough attempts to outrun his Rutgers opponent during the game on Nov. 12, 2022. </p>

#12 Chester Kimbrough attempts to outrun his Rutgers opponent during the game on Nov. 12, 2022. 

Following last Saturday’s 27-21 home victory over Rutgers, Head Coach Mel Tucker assumed the podium Monday afternoon to discuss last weekend’s game as well as this weekend’s matchup. 

In that win over the visiting Scarlet Knights, redshirt sophomore linebacker Cal Haladay stood out on the stat sheet, racking up 20 tackles and a TFL while roaming the backfield. For his productive performance, Haladay was awarded Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week for the second week in a row. 

“Football is a game for tough people, physically and mentally,” Tucker said. “He is that.”

It wasn’t just Haladay producing on defense. The unit had another solid week, especially the front seven and the entire linebacking core. 

“Our linebackers are very active, playing fast, being physical,” Tucker said. “All those guys in there are playing good football for us.”

Much of that production is coming from younger/depth players on both sides of the ball. Fifth-year senior linebacker Aaron Brule has played excellently in recent weeks, most recently notching six tackles, a sack, 1.5 TFLs and a quarterback hurry against Rutgers. Redshirt sophomore offensive tackle Brandon Baldwin also looked great on the banged up offensive line. 

After being thrown into the lineup out of necessity earlier in the season, a range of players are starting to take real strides thanks to that prior experience.

“We have guys that have more experience out there playing the game,” Tucker said. “They’re starting to become more productive and more consistent, just developing on the field.”

This weekend, Michigan State hosts its final home game of the 2022 season, welcoming the Indiana Hoosiers to Spartan Stadium. 

“We have a strong opponent in Indiana, playing for the brass spittoon,” Tucker said. “It’s a good chance to get back in the woodshed one more time.”

Normally, a bitter November Big Ten matchup against a basement-dweller isn’t the most intriguing of games for Michigan State fans. However, sitting at 5-5, a win against Indiana means bowl eligibility for the Spartans. 

Despite that looming in the background, Tucker wants his players to focus not on potential bowl eligibility, but the task at hand. 

“Our goal is to play our best football in November,” Tucker said. “We want to finish strong.”

Tucker did not provide any updates in relation to the postgame fight in Michigan’s player tunnel after the police investigation was handed over to the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office.

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