The Michigan Wolverines vs. Michigan State. Hate week, big brother vs. little brother, the state championship, whatever you want to call it, this clash of in-state rivals is unlike any other game of the season.
Michigan State Spartans head coach Mel Tucker discussed the upcoming matchup with the Wolverines during his weekly press conference.
“We all know what this week is. It’s not just another game for us. Our players understand that, our staff understands that, and our fans understand that as well,” Tucker said.
Several times throughout the press conference, he touched on “intentional focus” and “complementary football” for his players, and stressed the importance and meaningfulness of the rivalry and playing in the Big House.
“This is what big-time college football is all about. This is not for everyone, but this is what we love to do,” Tucker said. “So when you get an opportunity to play or coach on a stage like that, it’s special. Not everyone has an opportunity to do something like that — to perform in front of the world, lay it on the line and put it all out there. That’s what our players expect to be able to do when you come here to Michigan State, is to play on national TV versus great teams on a huge stage.”
In regards to Michigan's rushing attack, Tucker was thorough in his praise for how the Wolverines do what they do best.
“They have a good line, they’re well coached. The backs run hard, they can make you miss, they can run you over. They play hard. The receivers block the tight ends block. They’re going to shift and they’re going to motion. They have a good scheme and they have good players,” Tucker said.
When discussing Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy’s abilities, Tucker went down a laundry list of things he does well.
“He’s a really good player. He’s very confident, hyper competitive. He’s got a good arm, he believes in his arm. He’s accurate with the ball. He’s very mobile, so he can extend plays.”
A few weeks ago, before the Ohio State game, Tucker talked about how winning starts with belief. He believes his team has taken those strides and that their best football remains in front of them.
“There’s no shortage of belief or confidence in our group. It’s more about preparation,” Tucker said. “We know that we need to play 60 minutes of complimentary football to be able to get the job done. We have not played our best 60 yet, so that’s our goal.”