Mel Tucker's Michigan State Spartans are 2-0 to start the season, but have their first true test away from the Woodshed in East Lansing as they hit the road to take on fellow Power Five Conference opponent from Washington.
Here's today's report from East Lansing with Mel Tucker, as the Spartans prepare for their 1st road game of the season against 2-0 Washington.— Jeanna Trotman (@JeannaTrotmanTV) September 12, 2022
Tucker says there's not ONE challenge the Huskies present, but "a hundred things." Another solid defensive showing will be key for MSU. pic.twitter.com/BuEcWJo2IR
The Huskies are off to a 2-0 start and Tucker acknowledges just how talented Washington is, noting their speed, talent, recruiting ability, size up front, and their offense's ability to put up a lot of points on opponents. Tucker was asked what the biggest challenge was that Washington presents and he said it wasn't just one threat.
"It's a hundred things because they're a really good team," said Tucker. "They put a lot of pressure on you. That place is like a hornet's nest going in to play."
Follow thread below for Mel Tucker’s weekly press conference ahead of Washington on the road pic.twitter.com/4mBPHmmVdb— Jeanna Trotman (@JeannaTrotmanTV) September 12, 2022
That being said, Michigan State's biggest tool against the Huskies really will be their defense. Against Akron, a shutout win and their largest margin of victory since 2014, the Spartans defense was outstanding. They forced four fumbles and that tenacity is something Tucker pushes on his team as a point of focus every day. Tucker explained their responsibility is simple: you don't give the ball away, you take the ball away.
"It's a conscious effort," said Tucker. "If you don't take the ball away on defense, you're not playing good defense. Even if you're stopping the run, playing good pass defense, getting stops on third down, that's required. But you're not doing anything significant."
Despite this game being an out of conference matchup against a team the Spartans aren't all that familiar with, the defense will be facing an opponent that the Big Ten knows well. Michael Penix Jr., former Indiana quarterback, is the starter for Washington after joining the transfer portal in the offseason. Through six games, Penix Jr. has thrown for six touchdowns and over 650 yards.