The Michigan State football program had its weekly press conference on Tuesday, allowing assistant coaches and players to speak to the media about the team’s struggles and the game against Ohio State on Saturday.
Offensive line coach Chris Kapilovic started things off at the podium, opening up about the team’s struggle to establish the run.
“Statistically it looks really bad and we haven’t been able to get any kind of rhythm or sustain anything in the run game, especially the last three weeks,” Kapilovic said. “When you see you convert some third downs and move the chains and you get some rhythm going, then you see some positive things there.”
Speaking on the offensive line’s depth, Kapilovic said the team is still working to get their younger guys more work to get them ready to play.
“There’s a couple younger guys that we’re trying to develop and get them closer to where you feel comfortable putting them in in tough situations,” Kapilovic said. “We need that development in practice, and like I tell them, they’ve got to show me and the staff that whole week that you know exactly what you’re doing and playing at a high level so we’re comfortable putting you in.”
Kapilovic did not disguise his positive attitude concerning the true freshmen in the line room, voicing his approval and the staff’s hopes for their future.
“I like them a lot, our defensive coaches said this is the best group, scout team look they’ve gotten since they’ve been here,” Kapilovic said. “They’re big, they’re physical guys, they enjoy the work, they enjoy the physicality of the game.”
One of the biggest stories for the Michigan State offense recently has been the resurgence of redshirt senior running back Elijah Collins on the field. When asked about Collins, Kapilovic praised his effort in practice and his attitude.
“He practiced well, his attitude and want-to and everything has been really good,” Kapilovic said of Collins. “(Running backs) Coach (Effrem) Reed has been talking about we need to get him in more and he got him in there and I thought he ran really well.”
The lack of explosive plays is a major difference between the offense this season compared to a year ago, and Kapilovic cited the need for those explosive plays as a major concern for the team.
“Most of our possessions are starting back in our territory and then you look at scoring drives of nine, 12 and 14 plays, most teams it’s hard to sustain for that long,” Kapilovic said. “We need some explosive plays. That’s really what you look at that we’re missing right now is some explosive plays to get some big chunks so we can move it down. When we’ve done that these last couple games, you’ve seen us move the ball and getting into rhythm.”
True freshman safety Jaden Mangham came out next, speaking on his first start as a Spartan on Saturday against Maryland.
“It was a great experience, I really enjoyed being out there,” Mangham said. “I definitely have room to improve, but I just feel it was great overall.”
When asked about what he liked when watching the film from the Maryland game, Mangham emphasized the team’s perseverance and said he liked how they never gave up and continued to fight throughout the game.
Talking about Ohio State, he pointed out the Buckeyes’ propensity to throw the ball downfield, adding that the team knows the likely targets and the Spartans just need to lock in and take advantage of that knowledge.
Asked about earning more playing time against two high-powered offenses back-to-back, Mangham said he would be ready for the challenge.
“It’s a great challenge, it’s definitely a big thing, but I just have to stay ready, stay calm,” Mangham said. “All of the training my coaches have helped me with, I know that it’s good for me and when I get out there I’ll be prepared to do what I have to do.”
Mangham said his status as an early enrollee helped his development and helped him get on the field quicker, adding that learning everything became much easier as time went on.
Redshirt senior receiver Jayden Reed joined the press conference, giving some information on his injuries and his road to recovery.
When asked about his recovery from his injury on the sideline against Akron, Reed said he couldn’t do much more than simply let the cut heal on its own.
“At first I couldn’t do anything, I couldn’t sweat with my stitches and stuff like that,” Reed said. “The cut was pretty deep so I really just had to rest and let that thing heal up on its own.”
When asked how big of a setback his injury was, Reed said he didn’t view it as a setback but instead as an opportunity to focus even more on this season.
“I wouldn’t say it was a setback, if it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger,” Reed said. “I just had to deal with that and that just made me lock in even more.”
Reed said he has had conversations with quarterback Payton Thorne, checking on his mentality and how he’s feeling in response to negativity and outside noise following Thorne’s performance so far in the 2022 season.
“I love my brother,” Reed said about Thorne. “I just try to check on his mental aspect outside of football just to see where his head is.
“My best friend Payton Thorne is very strong,” Reed added.
Collins came out to speak to the media as well, talking about the way he works in practice to prepare for the field.
“Every rep, even if it’s going against a scout (team defense), I’m hungry for it,” Collins said.
Speaking on how he has changed in his time as a Spartan, Collins talked about his maturity both a person and a player.
“Two, three years ago I was a young kid, I was very immature, I was still learning a lot about myself,” Collins said. “I’m getting comfortable with who I am and what I’m capable of doing and how I do things.
“It took my game to a whole new level and it took me as a person to a whole new level.”
When asked about the support he has gotten from Michigan State fas after his return to a sizable role, Collins confirmed that he feels the love and is appreciative of the support.
“I’m not so much active on social media as much, but with that being said I can definitely feel it,” Collins said. “I appreciate everybody in Spartan Nation who’s always been standing with me because I’ve done nothing but stand with them. I do feel that love.”