ANALYSIS: How Coaching Staff Stopped Skid
Mark Dantonio
Managing Editor
Posted Oct 14, 2007


MSU's staff applied some tough love and the results were just what the doctor ordered. Here's five key methods that MSU's staff used to get the team turned around.

EAST LANSING - Now that's what you call coaching!

Michigan State saw its season squarely on the precipe. "Same Old Spartans" was the headline in the newspapers and many fans and observers felt if MSU lost their homecoming contest to Indiana, they might not win another game all season.

While not buying into to what the observers and some in the media wrote, MSU's football staff knew that they needed to do something to change the team's mindset and stop a skid that threatened it's bowl chances.

MSU's staff applied some tough love and the results were just what the doctor ordered. Here's five key methods that MSU's staff used to get the team turned around.

1. GET TOUGH: Dantonio took his team "back to training camp." He put the pads on and had the team "go live" that is, full scale hitting and tackling in practice. While the tactic is risky because it can result in injuries, both Ervin Baldwin and Jehuu Caulcrick said it made the team tougher and crisper. Baldwin admitted his effort a week ago against Northwestern was not what it should have been and the back to training camp mentality helped his concentration.

2. TOUGH LOVE: While going back to the training camp mentality is a tactic many, including embattled Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis have used, Dantonio's staff coupled it with love.

They made it clear it was "us" not "you guys". In short, they let the players know the reasons why they were doing what they were doing, to help the players accomplish their goals, to make sure they were fully prepared and to ensure success. The move worked so much so that they players dedicated the gameball to Coach Dantonio.

3. THE BEST MAN WINS: While early on the defense experimented with using unproven, but hungrier players like Jon Misch, Eric Gordon, Brandon Long and others, this week, familiar stars like Terry Love, SirDarean Adams, Travis Key and Ogemdi Nwagbuo returned to the starting lineup.

The move to sit them early made them hungrier and play with "Spartan passion and pride." Adams was one of MSU leading tacklers with five including two for loss. His speed was a key factor in contain Lewis on the edge.

4. RIDE THE HORSES: MSU put the ball into the hands of their playmakers who didn't let them down. Javon Ringer once again stated his case for being the best running back in the Big Ten with another monster performance. Equally as impressive was Devin Thomas' 13 catch effort on a night MSU only threw it 23 times. Jehuu Caulcrick's three touchdowns helped MSU go 5-for-5 in the redzone and Kendell Davis-Clark continues to show why he's one of the best corners in the Big Ten when he's healthy, leading the way with nine tackles, one for loss, one defensed and a sack.

5. DON'T LET UP: Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio made it clear, once they got up, MSU wasn't going to let up. This wasn't a slap at Indiana, but MSU needed to make a statement. Jonal Saint-Dic said over and over "this was a statement game." Dantonio said "We were going to keep pounding." MSU needed an identity change. The fragile psyche of team's past was creeping into this unit and Dantonio was going to make sure that he pounded that mindset right into the Spartans Stadium turf.

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