Michigan State is no stranger to football success in recent years, but the Spartans also know how quickly things can change.
So in striving to avoid complacency and a dropoff, the Spartans say they have been worked harder this offseason than ever before.
How intense have things been in East Lansing? Defensive end Shilique Calhoun said strength and conditioning coach Ken Mannie is in his nightmares.
“He is in there,” Calhoun said. “He is definitely in there telling me to push my body across the field and give him another couple gassers.”
Mannie has been the face of the Spartans’ attempts to thwart complacency setting in after a Rose Bowl championship season. Players said the workouts have been more intense, featuring more reps, a greater tempo and higher expectations. As a result, senior safety Kurtis Drummond said he feels the Spartans have a greater hunger heading into 2014.
”Coach Mannie has done a great job in not letting anyone get complacent,” he said. “It has kind of made guys mad at how hard the workouts are, but to understand how hard it is going to be for us to accomplish the things we want to do.”
Admittedly, Drummond added that the way the Spartans struggled through 2012 after an 11-win 2011 season added to the drive.
”A lot of times it was the little things we weren’t finishing on,” he said. “That is something we have harped on all through workouts was continuing to finish.”
The result was quarterback Connor Cook declaring the summer conditioning program the hardest he has been through at Michigan State.
“Coach Mannie has really pushed us to the max and I think his theme for the past summer has been to go the extra mile and I think we’ve done that,” he said.
”We are just striving for greatness every single day.”
Calhoun said the more intense workouts are a part of Michigan State trying to get back and beyond the achievements of last year.
“I feel like once you make it the Rose Bowl and you have a great accomplishment, the coaches understand how much harder you have to work to be even better the next year,” he said. “I feel like that is what they are doing to push us so that we work harder so we can be better.”
The offseason to Calhoun was just another instance of Mannie making good on a promise he made to him as a recruit on an official visit.
”He told me on my first official visit that I would see him more than I would see anyone else and that’s true,” he said. “If you want to play here, you are going to have to go through him.”