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Sports Michigan State's Mel Tucker taking aim at national title with goal to 'win every game'

02:41  28 july  2022
02:41  28 july  2022 Source:   usatoday.com

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INDIANAPOLIS — Michigan State football coach Mel Tucker got off the private jet he took with his players to Big Ten media day at Lucas Oil Stadium and walked up the steps to the main stage and summed it all up.

He said 2021 went well, but he believes 2022 can be even better.

"Last season,11-2 for us it was just really a step in the right direction, that's really all it was," Tucker said in his opening statement. "We did some good things, but nobody cares what you did last season. We certainly don’t.

Michigan State football coach Mel Tucker talks to reporters at the Big Ten Conference media days at Lucas Oil Stadium, Wednesday, July 27, 2022, in Indianapolis. © Darron Cummings, AP Michigan State football coach Mel Tucker talks to reporters at the Big Ten Conference media days at Lucas Oil Stadium, Wednesday, July 27, 2022, in Indianapolis.

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"We are extremely hungry, extremely hungry, we do have a chip on our shoulder and we have a lot to prove."

For anybody with a Tucker bingo card, there were coins on just about every square in his first 15 minutes. His first line was that the culture has changed in the program.

He discussed his program's sense of urgency, his insistence on players and staff members "rolling their sleeves up and getting to work," and of course "chopping wood every day.

Amid the mantras and messages, Tucker was explicit with his expectations.

"We have very high standards of performance and have decided as a program to attack that standard every day," he said. "The goal for us every day is to win every game on our schedule, that’s our stated goal.

"We need to bring a championship to East Lansing. That's what this is all about."

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That starts with replacing Kenneth Walker III. Walker III, a once under-the-radar transfer running back from Wake Forest, became the 2021 Doak Walker Award winner and Walter Camp Player of the Year after exploding for 1,636 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns.

Tucker brought in two more running backs through the portal — Wisconsin's Jalen Berger and Colorado's Jarek Broussard — who he said have helped take the running back room to the next level.

"He really bought in right away, into our culture and what we’re all about," Tucker said about Berger, who joined the team last winter. "He’s a very versatile guy, an excellent runner and excellent in terms of receiving the ball out of the backfield."

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Broussard was originally recruited by Tucker at Colorado and was named the Pac-12's Offensive Player of the Year in 2020, Tucker's first year at Michigan State.

"Tremendous back, excellent ball skills, super hyper competitive," Tucker said of Broussard. "Got him this summer, he’s a guy who can do a lot of things. So those two guys were obviously portal guys for us who made our team better and our running back room more competitive."

After a stretch of six 10+ win seasons from 2010-2017, including five years with 11 or more victories, Michigan State won seven games or fewer from 2018-2020, including bottoming out at 2-5 in Tucker's first season.

The nine-win turnaround was the greatest one-season increase in program history. Tucker said the goal is to prove the Spartans are among the elite of college football.

Despite a top-10 finish and New Years Six bowl victory a season ago, he said they're not satisfied.

"We just keep chopping wood because, like I said, we got something to prove," Tucker said. "We're not where we want to be and the voices in our building need to be louder than the voices outside of our building and we focus on the task at hand.

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"Our culture is all about how we live and behave every day, those are actions, those are behaviors and it's a process... we want to continue to cement our culture and that's what's going to create the outcomes for us."

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan State's Mel Tucker taking aim at national title with goal to 'win every game'

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