Michigan State football players and head coach Mel Tucker spoke about how their triumph over Nebraska was “transformational.”
After beating Nebraska on Saturday, Michigan State will go into the 2021 season unbeaten. A late Jayden Reed touchdown return for a score tied the game at 20 with 3:47 left in regulation, and the Spartans went on to win 23-20 in OT.
The Spartans won the game with a field goal in overtime after an interception by the Titans.
With a perfect 4-0 record, Mel Tucker’s club has cemented its place as one of the nation’s top-20 squads.
In the end, Tucker made a lengthy statement about the significance of the victory for the program in the first part of the season.
It was clear after the game that the Spartans’ victory meant everything to Tucker, Reed, and Thorne.
MEL TUCKER’S INTRODUCTION
For starters, I want to express my gratitude to all of our fans who came out in force. In this game, they had a major impact. They brought the energy, and they kept it up throughout the game. As a result of the raucous student section, we felt the enthusiasm of our supporters throughout the show. They arrived early and were instrumental in keeping us going and pushing this team forward, which was crucial for us. That gave us a leg up in the match. You have what you term home-field advantage when things don’t go as planned. It played a role.
As a fan, I’m happy of our football team since we kept our playoff hopes alive by performing admirably. Some of the best teams I’ve been a part of have been able to pull off victories like this. They figure it out. Our players were shown numerous examples of how special teams have impacted games around the country, from punts to punt returns to kickoffs and kickoff returns. We had a feeling the return game was going to blow up. We had a few kickoff returns go astray. Coach Els made a great decision on the last punt return, and Jayden Reed and the rest of the team provided the crucial blocks to get the ball in.
There were a lot of lessons to be learnt even if the squad won. In practice and meetings, we told our team to just keep cutting wood and playing the next play, play the next play, day in and day out. What matters most is what you do next, and don’t stop until you’ve accomplished what you set out to do. That’s how we indoctrinate a particular frame of thinking. It’s high-velocity and non-stop, which makes it unrelenting.
Our resolve is unwavering; we’re not going to give up until we succeed. Our team members, coaches, players, and everyone else in the organization believe this, and they believe in our ability to find a solution and have faith in the process.
We’re up one in turnovers, in my opinion. Our final turnover was critical in the outcome of the game. Huge. Field position is critical for the special teams, and Bryce did an excellent job punting the ball. This allowed us to line the punt and get it out of there, giving our defense a chance to stop them or anything like that as we were stalling out.
In the game, our players were extremely poised and never flinched. Whatever happens, don’t flinch; just stand there, take it, and keep going. We discuss about the game’s momentum pendulum swinging back and forth. It wasn’t any different in this game. There are always going to be shifts in the tide. What happens if you lose steam? You regain control by executing your plan and executing the next play. At the end of the day, we were successful in achieving that goal. It’s fair to say that while we haven’t been at our best yet this season, we’ve managed to hold onto our spot in the playoff picture. Again, the 24-hour rule applies, and then we return to work. Once we’ve figured out what needs to be fixed, we go on to the next project.
“I think Nebraska deserves a lot of credit for what it’s accomplished. Scott, for example, has been working on the software for several years. Year after year, they’ve improved dramatically. The game against Oklahoma was a road test for them, as you saw last week in Norman. What exactly does that imply? In other words, you can expect a physical four-quarter football game every time on the field. We advised the players ahead of time that it would be a two-mouthpiece contest. The truth was out there.
It was physically demanding from the beginning to the end, in other words. We figured out a method to make it work. The victory over the other squad makes me proud of my own. When I was with the team after practice, I reminded them it wasn’t only about football; it’s a lesson in life. Period. Whatever happens, I’m going to be there.
Keep going, that’s all there is to it. I also explained to them that the situation went far beyond the player, coaches, and other members of the coaching staff that were present in the locker room. Obviously, this is a huge deal for Michigan State as well as the entire campus. All of our current and former players, as well as our supporters and alumni across the country and around the world. Everyone has a stake in this, and it’s clear that we have the support of the entire community. These kinds of victories – which are essentially gut checks – can be life-changing. That being said, we’ll see what happens from here. One thing is for certain: this group has a solid foundation. To prepare for the next one, we’ll go back to work.
I’M PART OF THE DEFENSE TEAMS
When they’re out there, we tell them to get a stop. It doesn’t matter what the offensive is doing; your objective is to get a stop when someone claims defense is all about that. Every play is a new opportunity to go out there, regardless of how long it takes. It was a great feeling to get out there, keep rolling through, and really harp on them about “just doing your job.” When Scottie calls the defense call, you play the defense call, and eventually you’ll have an opportunity make a play, so you just keep going. As a result, there was no fear among our members. The men appeared to be having a good time based on their body language. You can accomplish a great deal when the guys keep saying to each other: “Keep talking, Keep talking.”
the return of wide receiver Jayden Reed
“We’ve been working on it for a few weeks now. As a result, we had to put it into action as soon as the coaches said to. Coach (Ross) Els and the special teams unit opened up that play for me and allowed me to get in the end zone because we used (Jalen) Nailor as a decoy.
There’s no doubt that was an out-of-body experience. Spartan Nation’s commitment to us throughout the game was greatly appreciated. We had a friendly game of football as a bonus. The offense as well as the defense both performed admirably. That was the only thing that caused it to occur. It’s surreal to see something like that.”
“Wow, that was surreal and mind-blowing. Seeing Jalen (Nailor) waving his hand and not catching it on that side was a very incredible sensation for me because I’m not around special teams much during a week. The entire special teams unit, as well as Jayden (Reed), deserve credit for making it happen.
“I try to look back on my playing career and I believe that was my first overtime game. It’s an amazing feeling to come out on top after such a tough contest. Throughout the game, our defense was terrific. They came up with a clutch play in overtime and were solid all day long. Special teams are critical to our success, and a play like that shows why. Outstanding. It’s a nice feeling to leave here with the victory.”