Michigan State Football: What to expect from head coach Mel Tucker?

(Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

Ever since Mel Tucker accepted the head coaching position with Michigan State  Football in the early morning hours of February 12th, no one really knew what to expect.

Everyone was hoping they would get to learn more about Michigan State Football‘s 25th head coach, Mel Tucker,  in the coming months. Well, as we all now know too well, the world had something different in mind. COVID-19 has wreaked havoc and is still an issue in college football and across the country.

There were months where the only way Mel Tucker could communicate with these players was through Zoom video chats. There wasn’t a real offseason that allowed Mel Tucker to instill his system with the players. He was basically pushed into the deep end of the pool and told to learn how to swim.

Game one against Rutgers felt like a bad dream, no one really knew what to expect going into the game, but I guarantee no one thought they would witness seven turnovers and a loss to Rutgers. In a sense, Michigan State football looked like a team learning a new system with no time to prepare for it.

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Now, week two came and it was against Michigan, in Ann Arbor.  Tucker was up against a Michigan team that dominated Minnesota in Week one.

It felt like Mel Tucker was leading his Michigan State team into a battle they were bound to lose and really didn’t feel like it would be competitive.

Next thing we know, Michigan State is not only keeping the game competitive but they never let Michigan take the lead.

They came in with the better game plan and they executed their game plan perfectly. fThey went from seven turnovers against Rutgers to zero against Michigan.

Quarterback Rocky Lombardi was able to stand in the pocket and hit deep ball after deep ball all day.  Most of them to a true freshman in Ricky White.

They were able to leave Ann Arbor with a 27-24 victory and win back the coveted Paul Bunyan Trophy. While many fans expected Michigan State to begin the season 1-1, that’s not the path to 1-1 they envisioned.

The big question now is, what’s next for them?  As we stand here today, they have seven games left to play including the extra cross-division game at the end of the year.

The six games they have left are; at Iowa, home against Indiana, at Maryland, home against Northwestern, home against Ohio State, and at Penn State. Their ninth and final game will come against whichever team from the Big Ten West finishes in the same position Michigan State does in the Big Ten East.

What can we expect to see out of Mel Tucker and Michigan State Football for the next six games?

While none of the games ahead will be a cakewalk for them, they do have some winnable games ahead of them. Looking ahead to Iowa, they are 0-2 and seem to have a lot of internal issues going on in their locker room.

Indiana is looking very good right now and will be a tough match-up. Maryland and Northwestern are both games they could very win. Ohio State is going to be tough, head coach Ryan Day seems to have the Buckeyes firing on all cylinders, and no team in the Big Ten will be able to keep up with them.

Penn State will be the game that will be a good measuring stick for Michigan State football. It will be the eighth game of the year. They will have had time to learn their system and at that point, we should know the starters going into next year.  Even though Penn State currently sits at 0-2, they should have beat Indiana, and any team who has to play Ohio State week two is going to lose.

Over the next six games, Tucker needs to make sure the Michigan State football team comes out strong. They need to come out well-prepared and knowing their identity. Gauging how they will finish will depend on a game-by-game basis, how they come out each week will be crucial to identify this.

Iowa’s defense will not allow Ricky White to run past the secondary. Michigan State will have to be patient as they go down the field and they will have to find their running game. It was a vastly different offensive line in Week one than in Week two. Do we see the same one again or does Tucker continue to tinker with it until he finds the combination that he wants?

Under previous head coach Mark Dantonio, Michigan State was 7-1 after beating Michigan.  A lot of the toughness and intensity shown by Michigan State in Week two felt like it was a continuation of the culture that Dantonio built in his 13 years in East Lansing.

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Let’s see if the success after beating Michigan can continue with Tucker as Michigan State football heads to Kinnick Stadium on Saturday.