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MSU defense determined to recapture emotional edge

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing – By Monday evening, the one-sided loss to Ohio State that occurred on Saturday still wasn’t sitting well with most of Michigan State’s players.

But like they have after each loss this season, the Spartans have tried to quickly put their focus on what’s next. In this case, up next for No. 22 Michigan State (7-3, 5-2 Big Ten) is the final home game of the season Saturday against Maryland.

“It’s tough to watch things like that,” senior linebacker Chris Frey said of the game film against Ohio State. “There were a few things (that went wrong), but we’re not gonna harp on those things. We’re just gonna fix them and get over them.”

There was plenty that went wrong on both sides of the ball. Specifically, for the defense, the fact Ohio State ran for 335 yards was right at the top of the list. It was the most rushing yards a Spartans team has allowed under coach Mark Dantonio.

The Buckeyes pushed the tempo, something that played a role, Dantonio said.

“For whatever reason, it just didn’t feel like we were ready to play and lined up,” Dantonio said. “Now, on the film, it would appear you’d lined up. But I know in the game, I felt like it was a scramble. I think sometimes, though, when things are going against you, everything seems like a scramble. Everything. And that’s the nature of this one. Everything – whether it was tackling or playing the ball in the deep part of the field or pressuring the quarterback or getting lined up, everything seemed to be a scramble. And we gotta negate that.”

More: MSU knows not all lost despite Ohio State shellacking

It’s the same thing sophomore linebacker Joe Bachie saw, but he doesn’t intend to dissect that video again for another year, saying he’ll take a look next season when Michigan State plays Ohio State.

“Lots of things went wrong in that game,” Bachie said. “They had their way with us, passing the ball, rushing the ball as you can see from the stats, but it’s another learning experience for us.”

Trying to pinpoint exactly what went wrong for a defense that had been allowing just 87 yards a game on the ground prior to facing the Buckeyes isn’t as simple.

Bachie said the confidence needs to be maintained from week-to-week while junior safety Khari Willis looked at it another way.

“Just bringing emotion and passion to the game, across the board,” Willis said. “But when a team gets out from the gate like that we got to find that as a team and be able to counter that. We did against Penn State when they got out on us early but this time we weren’t able to do that for whatever reason. That’s something we will address throughout the week and build it up until Saturday.”

If that emotion returns, so will the confidence, something Bachie was pushing in practice on Monday and intends to emphasize all week.

“I feel like we’ve been playing with a lot of confidence, even going into that game I think we had a lot of confidence,” Bachie said. “We didn’t come out ready to go but we can’t let that one game destroy us now, our confidence. We’ll keep having fun out here and that was our main goal today – come out here, have fun, play with confidence, be vocal and just enjoy it. We’ll go 1-0 again this week. That’s our goal and Maryland is on the clock.”

Maryland at Michigan State

Kickoff: 4 p.m. Saturday, Spartan Stadium, East Lansing

TV/radio: Fox/760

Records: Maryland 4-6, 2-5 Big Ten; Michigan State 7-3, 5-2

Line: MSU by 17