On Saturday, the Michigan State Spartans got a hard-earned victory against the Indiana Hoosiers by a final score of 20-15. The Spartans improved to 7-0 and moved up in the rankings in both the Associated Press Poll and the Coaches Poll.
Below, we have shared the videos from the postgame press conference following the game. Mel Tucker was proud of his team for continuing to fight, not giving up and finding a way to win in a gritty, physical game.
“This was a good, good win for us on the road — very tough environment,” Tucker said. “Indiana is a very well-coached football team. They’re physical, they’re hard-nosed. They were coming off of a bye, they were very prepared, we knew that. We were expecting them to be at their very best, actually better than what we’ve seen on tape cause we know that their coaches would have their guys ready to play. We would have to match that intensity and exceed that in order to get the win on the road, and I was very proud of our guys, our squad, and our coaching staff and our entire organization, the way everyone held in, held it together and continued to chop wood, and really throughout the game just kept pushing.”
Tucker and the Spartans were happy to bring the Old Brass Spittoon back to East Lansing. While there are certainly things to clean up — such as penalties and execution — overall, it was a good win against a quality Big Ten opponent.
“Very proud of our team, very proud to get the Brass Spittoon back because it’s important to us to get that trophy back. Our guys were asking about it after the game, they wanted to know where it is. I said ‘They’re gonna bring it to us, don’t worry, we’ll get it.’ And we got it, and we’re gonna take it back to East Lansing where it belongs. We got a bye, and so we’ll rest up. We got a few things we need to fix and correct; we’ll do that, and we’ll get ready for the next one, which we all know what that one is (Michigan).”
Tucker also spoke about the importance of being in tight games and finding ways to win. Things aren’t going to get any easier when it comes to the Spartans’ schedule, and playing in close games like this is good for the team.
“We’ve talked about it before — our guys will not flinch and they’re gonna keep chopping wood and they’re gonna keep playing hard and keep playing the next play. The most important thing is the next play. Trust the process, do your job, keep playing, play hard, be physical, play as a team. That’s what we’ve been doing. This is not the first time that we’ve done that. Almost every game this year, this season, has been some of that. Maybe the end score may have been like a larger margin, but a lot of times these games are tight...we expect them to be like that...I think you can get yourself into trouble when you think that it’s always gonna be easy because it’s not going to be. Now, we can make things easier on ourselves if we execute better and we cut down on the penalties we had, but it’s tough.”
Senior safety and captain Xavier Henderson also spoke with the media after the game. While the offense has carried the team for much of the season, it was the defense that won the game for MSU this week. Henderson said it was time for the unit to step up.
“I talked about it before the game to the guys,” Henderson said. “I told them, I said ‘I’m tired of hearing the defense kind of getting piggybacked by the offense.’ You know, what I mean? I’m tired of that. We had to come play our game, we gotta dominate this game. And I think we did a great job. I think we had three turnovers, maybe two (Editor’s note: it was three), but I think we did a great job. The dudes stepped up to the plate, but it’s a team game, and the offense might have struggled a little bit, but they did some things good, though. We’re all gonna watch the film and get better.”
Henderson mentioned that Tucker gave the team another motto and mantra to follow this week — “So what, now what?” Meaning, OK, something happened, but how are you going to respond? The next play is most important. The defense used this line of thinking to combat penalty calls, scores or shifts in momentum.
“We talked before the game, Coach Tuck gave us the motto of ‘So what, now what?’ So, that’s what we said, that’s what we stuck to. So what we get (pass interference)? Now what, now what we gonna do? We did a good job keeping them out of the end zone for the most part — almost held them to no touchdowns. But it was a good performance (by the defense), pretty gritty I think.”