Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 3/25/14
For everything Michigan State’s football team accomplished last season, there is one thing that, collectively, still bothers them. The Spartans won a school-record 13 games, captured the Big Ten championship by ending Ohio State’s 24-game winning streak and brought home their first Rose Bowl title since 1988. But there was that one Saturday in late September when Michigan State traveled to Notre Dame and left with a 17-13 loss. The Spartans believe they didn’t play well. “We dropped that four-point game last year and we’re not happy about it,” safety Kurtis Drummond said. “So we’ve still got some things to work on. We didn’t finish as the No. 1 defense and that’s something we want to attain this year.” For Drummond and the rest of the Spartans, who begin spring practice today, there will be a different sort of motivation. For some, there are individual goals. For others, they are simply trying to find the right position. But there seemed to be a unanimous belief the loss at Notre Dame will be driving the entire team this offseason. “The biggest thing is that one loss,” junior defensive end Shilique Calhoun said. “We weren’t undefeated. There are always things we can improve upon and that is one of the biggest things, that game, that loss to Notre Dame. We want to be undefeated.” Getting to that point will be no easy task, especially in the new-look Big Ten where Michigan State will be aligned with Ohio State and Michigan in the same division. But just like the Spartans bounced back from a 7-6 mark in 2012, coach Mark Dantonio understands it will take the same attention to detail to build off the success the Spartans had in 2013. “Continue to develop a championship attitude,” Dantonio said. “I think we are well along the way in that regard, but we have our mission and we need to continue to fulfill our mission. “I think it’s one of the reasons we have gotten to where we’ve gotten is because of the attitude we take every spring. I think this spring, the message to our players equates pretty simple, really, it’s handle success. You have to be able to handle success.” As much as the players are focused on shooting for perfection, the staff hasn’t let up during offseason workouts. “I think this is the hardest off-season program I’ve been around, and this is my third year,” quarterback Connor Cook said. “Having the year that we had and the success that we had, I think the coaches did a great job of not letting us look back and relish that stuff.” Michigan State practices 15 times this spring, culminating with the spring game April 26. Plenty will be decided in the coming weeks, including how the Spartans replace six starters on defense and how a reshuffled offensive line will come together. But as much as personnel will be decided on, the focus for this team comes back to whether it can build of the success it had last season. “Last season we had the taste of success,” Drummond said. “Once you taste success you want more of it. It kind of makes you greedy, makes you go harder, makes you want to accomplish more.”
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