Michigan State No. 14 aims for consistency against Akron Detroit News

Michigan State coach Mel Tucker challenges his players to up their intensity on Saturday when the 14th-ranked Spartans host Akron.

“We’re just challenging everyone in the organization to get comfortable and attack this week and we need to take our intensity to the next level,” Tucker said. “We need to prepare to play 60 minutes this week – not 10 or 20 or play in spurts. We just need to increase our intensity level of what we do. We need to attack everything we do.”

“We’re super motivated,” said Tucker, whose team has won seven straight home games. “We have a lot to prove in the way we play on the pitch.”

Michigan State will have to do it without two key defensive players who were injured against Western Michigan. Linebacker Darius Snow was lost for the season after suffering a right leg injury and safety Xavier Henderson is expected to miss a lot of time with a leg injury.

Moorhead remembers well the last time he coached against Michigan State at Spartan Stadium in 2017.

“Unfortunately the last time we were there we were down 27-24 on a field goal because time expired,” recalled Moorhead, who was Penn State’s offensive coordinator at the time. “The match was delayed three hours before half-time due to a thunderstorm.”

After giving up 453 yards at FCS St. Francis, Moorhead said his defense faces a significant challenge against Michigan State’s offense, which generated 430 yards against the Broncos.

“They do a great job of mixing game action with their most efficient runs,” he said. “So our (defensive backs) have to have great eye discipline when we’re in the zone (defense). When we’re man-to-man, whether it’s out or in press, we have to do a great job because the receivers all have a good size and play the ball well in the air.”

Earlier in the week, Tucker called Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne a “perfectionist.” He was not the first to do so.

“I remember I had an art teacher in sixth grade, I still remember somehow, she called me that,” Thorne recalled. “She said, ‘You’re a perfectionist. You don’t have to be so detailed.’ But I was like, ‘Well, that’s how I am, that’s how I’m wired, I guess.’

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