The War Room: Go Inside #16 Michigan State Football
I get a lot of nuggets and information that alone are not big enough for a story. When I have a few that I can assemble together I will, and when I only have one or two I will post them as premium content on our Phalanx Forum board. So welcome to The War Room.
- There has been a lot of speculation that the Spartans are going to make a move on Tyrone Sampson. A 2018 OL out of Detroit. That is only speculation and at this point is NOT substantive. He is not a target for the Spartans to round out the 2018 class. There is a slight (very slight) chance should several other options fall out that they could take another look, but that would be a slim chance and the way things look now, not probable.
- The transfer of Messiah deWeaver didn’t come as a shock. Spartan Nation had already reported that should Brian Lewerke go done for any length MSU would have taken off the redshirt from Rocky Lombardi.
- Unfortunately, people do not understand that when a player transfers it is not always for negative reasons. deWeaver is a very special person and student. He is well-liked and you should wish him nothing but the best.
- With the departure of deWeaver, there are four others that Spartan Nation is aware of that are considering the same. We reported a few weeks ago that we knew of five considering it and one would be a shock.
- There is one other that there have been significant rumblings about, but we HAVE NOT been able to confirm. He is another that if he left, Spartan Nation would not consider a shock.
- Spartan Nation has been fortunate or some may say not fortunate to have players stick around content with not playing. Honestly, Spartan may be shocked but this goes on often at most programs. If guys are leaving for negative reasons it should be a concern, but not if they are leaving because they love the game and can’t play where they are.
- MSU has one WR spot open for the 2018 class. As we have reported numerous times, Michigan State will wait on Tommy Bush out of Texas to make his choice before moving on.
- Should Bush not pick Michigan State (And the Spartans feel like they are in a great spot) the Spartans will make a strong move on Jalen Nailor.
- BUT the chance of Nailor isn’t solely tied to Bush. Depending on how many players end up transferring or the spots, MSU could end up with both. At this point that is not probable, but again depending on how many players transfer and at what spots, the potential of both is real.
- This season was a lot more than 10-3. It was about Mark Dantonio getting a gauge of the character of his program. He said as much after the Holiday Bowl, "I think the biggest thing you learn as a young person or as a coach or anybody, is to get up after you've been knocked down."
- I loved Brian Lewerke’s mindset after the Holiday Bowl. The Spartan QB took no time to savor the Holiday Bowl win. He was already in a 2018 mindset when he said, "We can build off the momentum that this game brings us, and with a lot of young guys, a lot of work to be done and a lot of potential to be reached."
- I am getting so many questions about Felton Davis III leaving early for the NFL. Not sure where that is coming, but here is what he said after the Holiday Bowl and it should put that Speculation to rest: "We take ours one at a time. So first one is winning the East, and then the Big Ten championship. And then put ourselves in a position to win the national championship."
- If you will allow me for a minute, I cover Mark Dantonio but he is also my friend. I have told him numerous times in private that I wish he stopped and smelled the roses more. That is this one quote from him meant a lot to me personally as his friend and I know those close to him shared my sentiments. “This was as great of a football season that I have had as a coach because of where we came from and what we were able to accomplish."
- Dantonio didn’t mention Michigan or Jim Harbaugh after the Holiday Bowl. He didn’t have to. He was feeling spunky when he said, “100 wins in 11 years, you do the math.”
- I love brute honesty. Unfortunately, you rarely get it on the record. So when I asked redshirt sophomore Washington State QB Tyler Hilinksi to explain what happened he said honestly, “They dominated.” Simple truth. The Spartans were that good.
- I have said many times that Mark Dantonio is NOT a liar. That is why you have to listen to everything he says. He pulled no punches and left no wiggle room when he said, “We’re back to where we’ve been and I think we reaffirmed our stature in college football.” When I heard him say that the first thing that came to my mind was that he didn’t mention Michigan, but he made his point.
- Speaking of mindset, Joe Bachie the Spartans star MLB and unquestioned leader and captain next year sent a message to his team, the Big Ten and Spartan Nation when he declared, “We’re back. That’s it. We’re gonna take this into next year and we’re gonna grow."
- There were a lot of fans that were happy when LJ Scott said he was coming back. But there were more people inside the program with what else he said. “We’ve got a bright future and a huge chance to do good things. With the hard work we put in, the blood sweat and tears with this team, I can’t leave them early.” His talk of hard work and attitude was a shot in the arm. Not that he has had a bad attitude or wasn’t a hard worker, but they want to see Scott take the next step to being a leader. That is why I was told, “It is one thing to come back, it is another to make the foundation of that return hard work and expectations. That made a lot of us really smile.”
- Brian Allen the senior captain and center is not one to wax poetic. I know him very well and I can tell you he is not verbose. But I know he leaves incredibly proud of where the program rests for the future. While NO ONE DISAGREED with him, when he said this he really raised some eyebrows. “I thanked everybody for what they’ve done and just let them know that the Holiday Bowl is not the goal. As awesome as it is to be out here, the expectations for next year are going to be even higher. That’s what is most special about this.” Again it didn’t raise eyebrows because people disagreed, but because people aren’t used to hearing that from him.
- MSU recruiting has made it foundational to be recruiting families. Sibling and family groups have meant a lot. Dantonio put that in perspective and he is 100% correct. “I think that is an affirmation. When you send one of your children to a particular institution or school, then you follow with somebody else, then you follow it again, I think there is an affirmation that their sons are being treated consistently and fairly. They’re either playing or they’re not playing, that’s on them, but they have opportunities. They’re in a good situation. They’re around good people.”
- The fact that so many families and parents keep sending their kids to Michigan State begs one to question, “Who has it better than us?”
- Most people do not realize that Dantonio extended his school record by winning his fifth bowl game (5-5 in bowl games at MSU). While some would say no big deal, remember this is a guy who in the early years of his tenure people said he couldn’t win the bowl games.
- Consider this note from MSU: Michigan State is in the midst of its winningest decade in school history (total wins), as the Spartans are 78-28 since the beginning of 2010 . . . during that span, MSU has won five bowl games (2012 Outback, 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings, 2014 Rose, 2015 Cotton, 2017 Holiday), three Big Ten Championships (2010, 2013, 2015) and three Big Ten Division titles (2011, 2013, 2015) . . . MSU’s .736 winning percentage this decade is second best in school history (.766 in the 1950s).
- I was asked on a national radio show this week when I knew MSU had the game. I said in my pre-game scouting report and prediction that I thought the Spartans had the Holiday Bowl by double digits. I was right, but I knew it when Michigan State’s first scoring drive in the Holiday Bowl was 16 plays over 81 yards and took 9:24 off the clock. It ended with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Brian Lewerke to Cody White and you could feel the air being sucked out of the Washington State Cougars. MSU physically beat them up on that drive.
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