September 3, 2014 at 8:42 pm

Spartans getting amped for Oregon, insist mid-90s heat won't be factor

MSU defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi  on upcomin...
MSU defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi on upcomin...: Narduzzi talks about next Saturday's matchup with Oregon

East Lansing — The Spartans will be turning up the heat this week, and that doesn’t mean just with their game plan.

Michigan State, ranked seventh, heads to Eugene, Oregon, on Saturday to take on No. 3 Oregon in one of the most highly anticipated nonconference games this season. But it won’t exactly be a walk in the park.

A trip to the sauna might be more appropriate.

The Weather Channel forecasts a high of 98 degrees. That’s more than 20 degrees above the average high for September in Eugene.

“We’ve both got to deal with the heat,” Spartans defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi said.

“You guys probably felt the indoor yesterday afternoon, so we’re preparing for that. It’s a mental thing. Our guys will be playing the game; heat won’t be a factor.”

The heat will put even more pressure on the Michigan State defense that already will be adjusting to the fast-moving Oregon offense.

The Ducks take only seconds between plays, and the Spartans have been preparing all week with multiple offenses running continuously at the defense.

Tuesday, they closed practice with extra running inside the warmed-up facility.

“We try to hit him over the head with a baseball bat if we have to get them going,” Narduzzi joked. “But I did a little something extra yesterday and we didn’t have to bring the bats out.”

The late running was something extra, and it’s just one thing the Spartans are doing to get ready.

“(You) try to do a lot of hydrating before the game,” co-offensive coordinator Jim Bollman said.

“I know that sounds simple but it is something that you have to stay after the guys about doing throughout the week, which we have already started doing.”

The weather is only one issue Michigan State is facing. It will also be dealing with a three-hour time change. The Spartans leave today, a day early, but Narduzzi brushed it off.

“We’ll be getting to bed on time,” he said.

“But you can make everything, you can say the food’s a factor, the airplane’s a factor, we can name all kinds of factors. If you let it be a factor.

“The factor is, that offense. OK? That’s what we’re looking at. That’s the only factor we care about.”

Extra points

Bollman said Wednesday guard Travis Jackson is making progress after being injured against Jacksonville State.

Spartans coach Mark Dantonio said he expects Jackson to play, but if the fifth-year senior can’t go, the job will be handed to true freshman Brian Allen, who saw significant time in the opener.

It was experience Bollman called “invaluable.”

“Especially when you get in there and get your feet wet for the first time and then have a little bit of an idea what the speed of the game’s gonna be like,” Bollman said.

“This will be a little different in that regard, too, but certainly the more you can do that the more chances you have to improve.”

Bollman also said junior Brandon Clemons, making the transition from defensive tackle, is getting closer to joining the rotation at guard.

“Anybody that’s on the plane has to be thought of as a potential factor in the game,” Bollman said. “Those decisions aren’t made, they’ll be made on the field.”

... Narduzzi said junior defensive tackle Damon Knox (undisclosed injury) is inching closer to returning.

Pat Narduzzi on Saturday's game: 'We've both got to deal with the heat.' / Dale G. Young / Detroit News