Davis: "We're not out of anything. It's the same, exact scenario as last year..."

Davis: "We're not out of anything. It's the same, exact scenario as last year..."

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Davis: "We're not out of anything. It's the same, exact scenario as last year..."

Michigan State’s Felton Davis is much more than the Spartans’ most reliable and explosive receiver.  He’s a team leader and is showing some pragmatic leadership in the lead-up to a massive opportunity for Michigan State this Saturday at Penn State.

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Sometimes it can be refreshing to be reminded of the fact that the members of the Michigan State football team are kids, students, guys trying to find their way, and guys that sometimes aren’t all wrapped up in the dramas we all create when trying to figure out if a season is headed for greatness or spinning out of control.

Michigan State’s Felton Davis is going to earn some money in the NFL once he’s finished starring for the Spartans as a reliable, dynamic, and versatile receiver.

And right now he’s leading in a way that is sort of reassuring in the way he’s being simple and pragmatic about the situation he and his teammates find themselves in.

There’s a lot of legitimate focus on the players’ only meeting that occurred this week following Joe Bachie’s pointed – and on point – comments about leadership and commitment within the locker room.

While Bachie’s comments were properly emotional, direct, and appropriately tough, Davis’s comments are more along the lines of being pretty pragmatic.

He compared the current situation to the middle of last season – there are some obvious parallels.

A year ago, Michigan State was thumped at home by Notre Dame, losing early 38-18.

This season, Michigan State’s early loss was at Arizona State – and it was anything but a thumping.

The Spartans, of course, lost to the Sun Devils on the game’s final play after seemingly having the game in hand.

Last season, Michigan State lost another tough one at Northwestern, 39-31 – a tough loss for any number of reasons.

And here we are, this season, with the Spartans having suffered a tough loss to Northwestern, once again.

Felton Davis’s comparison of the current situation to last year’s pretty similar scenario?

“And then we went and played Penn State.”

To Davis, this all might just be as simple as that.

“We’re not out of anything.  It’s the same, exact scenario as last season,” said Davis.

Last season, Michigan State beat Penn State 27-24 on a last second field goal by Matt Coghlin at the end of a tumultuous, weird, and challenging afternoon that featured an hours-long delay due to the lightning and the many different storm elements that were swirling all around East Lansing that day.

A quick word about the weather and how it may or may not have had any impact on Michigan State’s 27-24 win over Penn State last year –

Some suggested at the time – and are suggested again now – that the win was sort of fluky or warranted some sort of asterisk or that it might have been a “mirage” due to the weird weather delays and so forth.

Any time anyone refers to weather or delays or crowned field surfaces or any issues that could fall into the category of “force majeure,” I tend to think that the person bringing up those issues doesn’t know what they’re talking about and might have an axe to grind or might just be someone who likes to point to excuses in order to explain some sort of result or development that they’re not comfortable with.

The facts are these with regard to Michigan State’s wins in 2017 over both Penn State and UMAA:

  • In each game, each team had to deal with the circumstances.
  • In each game, one team dealt with the circumstances more productively.
  • In each game, one team was able to overcome the challenges and played well enough under all of the elements that were not in any way more advantageous for one team and more problematic for the other.
  • In each game, Michigan State found the ways to win.
  • End of story.

This happened, counted, and won’t ever be changed by officials of any kind:

And so, back to Felton Davis’s refreshing comments.

We’ll state his quote once again –

“And then we went and played Penn State.”

During Mark Dantonio’s weekly press conference, he alluded to the possible benefits of playing this game on the road.

“That’s a great atmosphere over there (at Penn State). We’ve gone over there, and we’ve won before. It’s fun. If you play at home all the time, you play away all the time, those type of things could become redundant a little bit. I think when you go away and play in a different environment, I think it takes on a different mentality for your football team. It’s a little bit us-against-the-world type mentality. It will serve us well.”

How many Experts have pointed out that Michigan State has won two out of the last three times these two teams have played at State College, Pennsylvania?

The injuries, the execution, the toughness at the point of attack, the decision-making on the part of the offensive field general, the players’ ability to focus on limiting unforced errors, the need to gain the one yard when necessary – all of that is, of course, more important than anything a player or a coach might say prior to a big game like Michigan State is preparing for right now.

Michigan State needs the horses – and the Spartans may not have enough horses that are healthy to win a third time in four tries at Happy Valley.

But Felton’s rational, factual, and calm comment sure does resonate with me.

I’m probably in the minority but I still think Michigan State has plenty of fight in the locker room, plenty of motivation, and enough talent to have a very successful season.

Yes, it appears as though this week’s challenge is a significant one.

But last year’s game against Penn State sure did seem like a significant challenge heading into it.

There are all sorts of personnel issues that this year’s Spartans are having to fight through due to injuries.

These Spartans haven’t shown yet that they can perform at the level that was expected prior to season – with or without the players who would be considered the ones who were going to lead the team to being a Big Ten Championship contender.

Two things right now for consideration:

  • Can the cobbled-together offensive line get it together for a full game – or at least for enough stretches of the game – in order to allow there to be some success on the ground?
  • Can the defense – the entire defense – limit Trace McSorley enough so that the Spartans are in the game when the 4th quarter rolls around?

If positive answers to those questions develop over the course of the game, Felton Davis’s comment becomes totally and completely relevant in the huddle.

And Michigan State knows it can beat Penn State.

The Spartans have beaten Penn State four out of the last five games.

A victory this Saturday may not be as unrealistic as it might seem to some.

A victory is totally realistic to Felton Davis…

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