For Jerel Worthy and his Michigan State teammates, this Saturday brings a new beginning to the 2010 football season. Big Ten play is here, and for Worthy it brings a fresh feeling.
“We’ve had a good season so far and it feels good to get to play teams week in and week out you’re going to be tested. We need to step it up our game up front and play with passion and emotion.”
While Worthy knows Wisconsin is a major test, he is also confident the Spartans defensive line will be ready.
“Coach Gill has been working us hard and we’ve done well getting all the schemes in to stop the run and make them one dimensional. I also feel we get tested each week in practice as we play against a great offensive line.”
During the past two weeks, Jerel and his teammates have learned to go on without their leader Mark Dantonio in his normal capacity. What has it been like with Coach D taking a different role?
“The week without him was really different. Not hearing his voice was so strange, but it was apparent how much he means to us. The coaches did a great job and had a zero tolerance with the guys. Our leaders did a great job and Coach Treadwell kept us on an edge. Everyone held each other responsible to do the right things and I feel we did a great job. Now that he’s back, he’s still coaching from a distance, but he’s able to give us his input when it is needed.”
For Jerel the emotional part of Coach D’s health played a toll.
“It was hard on me, he was the guy who recruited me and has played such a big role in my life since I came here. I missed him a lot.”
One thing that gave several of the members on the Spartans defense some comic relief came last Saturday as Greg Jones got his first two career interceptions.
“We’ve been giving Greg a hard time calling him stone hands, but he is stepping up his game and making even more plays. And that helps all of us.”
As for playing with a player like Jones, Worthy knows it is something special.
“It has been a great opportunity for me to play with a guy like Greg. He comes to work every day and that rubs off on guys. He’s our leader and we all respect what he’s done.”
In stopping Wisconsin, Jerel knows the offense starts with running back John Clay.
“We’re not focusing on just one guy, but we do know Clay will be the feature guy and we need to do the little things to keep him in check.”