In his final press conference of the regular season, Michigan State Head Coach Mel Tucker touched on this weekend’s matchup against Penn State, last Saturday’s brutal loss to Indiana and discussions of the current and future state of the roster.
This past Saturday the Spartans suffered a bitterly disappointing 39-31 double overtime loss to the visiting Hoosiers. Despite out-gaining, out-processing and outplaying Indiana for the majority of the game, special teams' struggles and untimely turnovers ultimately doomed Michigan State.
“Last week’s game on Saturday obviously was a disappointment for all of us,” Tucker said. “Our team knows how to have intentional focus and move on.”
This Saturday’s game against the Nittany Lions is the Spartans’ last game of the regular season. After last weekend’s collapse against Indiana, MSU has to win in order to reach six wins and bowl eligibility.
However, Tucker wants his players focused on the process leading to this week’s matchup, not looking ahead to results.
“I don’t think there’s any reason to continue to harp on that (bowl eligibility) because that’s really talking about the end result,” Tucker said. “What we really need to focus on as a program and as players and coaches is what we need to do every single day to prepare for that opportunity.”
Michigan State will enter Saturday’s matchup with a thin roster. In addition to a multitude of injuries throughout the lineup, the eight players suspended after the post-game tunnel incident at the Big House remain off the roster. With that limited roster in mind, Michigan State will not put on the pads and hit this week during practice.
“We’re not going to be putting the shoulder pads on and hitting,” Tucker said. “We just can’t afford to do that right now.”
Near the end of the press conference, Tucker touched on the future state of the roster. More specifically, the status of seniors/upperclassmen who are approaching the end of their eligibility. Players like redshirt senior running back Elijah Collins can return for another season if they choose to do so.
“Some guys have made decisions, some guys have not,” Tucker said. “It’s ongoing.”
Tucker said that the incoming/future classes and the transfer portal will also weigh into the roster decisions.
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