M is for "Mortality"

There are a lot of ways that you can try to get past a loss like the one we just had at Michigan State.

There's the "whatever, State still sucks" defense in which despite losing the game you still poke fun at your little brother, reminding him that even though they found a way to win 2 in a row against you, they have only managed 3 wins in the last 10 tries.  Then you laugh next week when they get dominated in Champaign.

There's the "ya, but we fought back so valiantly" defense, where you justify the loss by the ferocity of play in the final five minutes of regulation.  You might even go delusional and think that we're going to take that momentum into Iowa City.

Then we have the "it was the first game on the road for our team that is comprised of a large amount of Freshman" excuse, where you talk about how young we are, and how much better we are going to be once these guys get a year or two of experience under their belt.

All of these are fun to use, and I highly recommend doing so.  Another tactic that usually works when you talk to a Sparty that confronts you about the game is taking your keys out of your pocket and jingling them.  Or get a flashlight and make figure eights on a nearby wall.  This will amuse them and they will forget what they were talking about.  Also, you might want to mention that midnight madness for hoops is less than two weeks away.  They will immediately start talking about the amazing time they had a Ford Field last year, and they will forget that they even field a football team.

OK, OK, back to reality.  I'm not going to use any of those excuses.  We got our ass kicked by Michigan State.  Seriously.  If they didn't "Sparty it up" with mind-numbingly dumb penalties, we would have been run out of that stadium.  Hell, we almost were anyway.  Tate wasn't exactly Tate-esque for the first three and a half quarters.  And while the defense wasn't necessarily worse than they've shown this season, they certainly weren't any better.  Greg Robinson's goal of being the "best tackling team in the nation" is not coming to fruition.  But the short answer for why we lost?  They wanted it more.  Our young team wasn't rattled by the crowd or foreign field.  They were rattled by a team that knew what this game meant.  A team that was visibly more into this rivalry, and whose passion seemed to grow with every snap.  I could see it.  They celebrated every tackle like it was a touchdown.  Someday, hopefully next year, these young players and this new coach will really understand what this rivalry means...not to us, but to State.  And if we don't drum up some semblance of OUR backs being against the wall to counteract THEIR backs which are ALWAYS up against a wall, it will be tough to compete no matter how much better we are than them position by position.

The really amazing thing about it all is that we really did have a chance, in fact several chances, to win the game.  Should've scored a touchdown on that first drive after the interception...should not have given Zoltan the option to run it...shouldn't have fumbled it late...shouldn't have forced that Denard series...should have told Tate he needs to find better ways to throw the ball away.  You can't win a game like this with mistakes and missed opportunities.

But our main issue overall is that the weight of the program is resting solely on the shoulders of this kid (Tate).  We seem to be relying on him to get us out of whatever trouble we are in.  And while he has been able to handle it way better than anyone should be expecting him to, somebody, in fact many "somebodys," are going to need to start performing at a higher level, offensively and defensively, if we expect to be successful.  OK, gotta stop now, Rich Rod tells me I only get 24 hours to think about yesterday, and that time is up.

Bring on the Hawkeyes.  Iowa City, here we come...and GO BLUE!