Despite two crushing losses, the mood on Michigan State’s campus is still hopeful coming into Saturday’s game at Wisconsin, which could be down to the program’s direction.
In past seasons, two last-minute losses in a row would have most fans wondering when basketball season started. However, it seems coach Mark Dantonio’s stubborn confidence in his team is rubbing off on many on-campus fans.
“I’m still pretty confident. I think they’ve shown some bright spots on offense, we’ve just gotta work a little bit on the secondary,” said Nick Huhn, a senior at MSU. “Overall, I mean, 1-2 is pretty bad, but if we can beat Wisconsin and Michigan, we’ll have some momentum going into the heart of Big Ten play.”
Huhn’s thoughts seem to be the pretty standard line of thought in East Lansing, with many fans still believing in the Spartans’ quest for a spot in the upper echelon of the Big Ten.
Fr Quinn Kane said he thought the 1-2 start could still be overcome.
“I’m still hopeful. Obviously they didn’t get off to the start everyone had hoped for,” Kane said. “There’s still a chance they could salvage the season.”
In years past, a tough loss against a heated rival – like Saturday’s game against Notre Dame – led to a total meltdown. It’s almost ingrained in Spartan fans to expect the worst after a tough loss.
Sr Jeff Beurkens said he’s endured collapses before as a Spartan fan, but has confidence there’s no impending doom on the immediate horizon for the team.
“I’ve been here for a while, so I’ve seen us go 6-0 and finish 1-5,” Beurkens said. “I think they can still pull it out, if Dantonio and (So QB Kirk) Cousins can pull everyone together.”
Even though Cousins has come under fire from some aspects of Spartan Nation about the interception that sealed Notre Dame’s 33-30 victory in South Bend, it seems most of the worry among students is directed towards the defense.
Huhn said defense was his main area of concern, citing the Spartans lack of a pass rush during the last two weeks and scattered play of defensive backs.
“The pass rush definitely could be better and for sure the cornerback play could be better,” Huhn said. “It’s really tough to ask linebackers to cover wide receiver when the other team runs a five-wide spread, so I don’t fault them so far. We should be a lot better this Saturday.”
Clutch plays are also needed, Kane said.
“We’ve got a good offense; they’re putting points on the board. We just need to come through in the key moments,” he said.
With the Spartans preparing for the hostile atmosphere in Camp Randall on Saturday, fans are predicting a Spartan win to spark a recovery.
“I think we win, probably a pretty low-scoring game,” Huhn said. “Probably like 24-14 or 17, something like that. It’ll be close because it’s at Wisconsin, but I think we have the talent to beat them.”