Players eager for redemption in rivalry game against Spartans
Marek Mazurek | Thursday, September 21, 2017
The last time Notre Dame and Michigan State faced off, it didn’t go so well for the Irish.
Last year, the Spartans (2-0) claimed a 36-28 victory at Notre Dame Stadium, as a potential game-ending drive from DeShone Kizer and the Irish offense fell short.
A year later, the Irish (2-1) travel to East Lansing, Michigan, with redemption on their minds.
“Yeah, we have a point to prove,” captain and senior linebacker Greer Martini said Wednesday. “Obviously we didn’t like the outcome from last year, but it’s just all about taking each day at a time and getting prepared for this game, giving them our best performance on Saturday night.”
Fellow senior captain and linebacker Drue Tranquill said he had a tough time in last year’s game and hopes to rectify that this year.
“I mean, it was one of my worst games in my career, I think, and so I have a bigger chip and mentality going into this game,” Tranquill said. “I was very disappointed with the way I played against them last year and disappointed at the way we played against them as a team. But we can’t control that. We can control what happens this Saturday, though. We can control our preparation heading in. So our focus isn’t so much on the outcome of last year’s game as it is controlling what we can control heading into this game.”
However, no one on the current Irish roster has played a game in Spartan Stadium — the last time the Irish traveled to East Lansing was in 2012. Despite a lack of familiarity with the stadium, graduate student left tackle Mike McGlinchey said Notre Dame has played in enough big games to be ready for the road atmosphere it will face.
“We’ve played places like there — it’s not like we haven’t played in loud stadiums or haven’t been to a loud stadium before,” McGlinchey said. “I’ve been to the Big House, Doak Campbell down at Florida State and Clemson, and I played in that game, so I’ve got experience playing in a crowd like that, and we’re working on it. We’ve been working on it since camp started. We knew we were going to have to go on the road and play some teams that we’re probably not going to be able to hear too well. But other than that, you just wait for the silent count, wait for the calls to come in as best as they can, and other than that, you’ve just got to go play football.”
Although the captains said the preparation will stay the exact same no matter the opponent, they are aware that the Michigan State-Notre Dame rivalry provides a little extra motivation going into the game.
“I think all the big rivalry games and the trophy games that we have are so important to our tradition and what Notre Dame is and who those other programs are,” McGlinchey said. “Like I said, as an offensive lineman, I love playing against Michigan State. I love the kind of game that it is. It’s always the toughest game — one of the toughest games, one of the biggest fist fights that you’re going to have to be in just because of the way they play and who they are as a team. You know, it’s just something that you don’t like to see fade away. You want that kind of a game and that kind of an atmosphere and that kind of a tension to continue. It’s good for the programs. It’s good for the sport. It’s just good for you as a player individually, to get to be able to have these kinds of experiences.”
Tranquill echoed McGlinchey, saying he enjoys the physical nature of the rivalry.
“I mean, I’ve enjoyed playing Michigan State in the time I’ve been here. It’s a great rivalry, a great game. I know guys enjoy it,” Tranquill said. “I think they’re just a tough, physical football team. It’s what you come here to do. They’re a perennial big Power-5 school, and to have the opportunity to play them, just a great coach, a great program, it’s always a great game, and so we always look forward to playing teams of that caliber, and we’ll look forward to the rest of the season the rest of our career.”