East Lansing, MI
Michigan State was fortunate to get senior MLB and Captain Riley Bullough back from injury for the Northwestern game. Many had anticipated as late as Wednesday that the Maryland game was still the best hope.
Despite his return the Spartans still lost while giving up an astonishing 490 yards of offense and 54 points. For Bullough who is a senior, there is not time to lick your wounds and he wouldn’t take that path if available. As the unquestioned leader of this team he has to find a way to lead this team back.
So how is he processing four straight losses? “Obviously it's tough, none of us really in college or high school, have ever lost four games straight, so it's tough. It's unchartered territory for us, but we're here and all we can do is work as hard as we can to try to get a win. So from here on out, week to week, work as hard as we can.”
So how does a man who has a last name that is synonymous with Spartan Football bring this team back? He’s looking for answers. “It's tough because we feel like we're playing hard, that's the tough part. It's the little things, we'll get in there and watch film like we always do. But at some point we just have to make plays, and we're not making enough right now. That's really what it comes down to.”
For Bullough he says the issue isn’t effort. He says it is more about execution and disciplined. “It's hard to say right now. But, like I said we have guys that are playing hard that's not the problem, it's just things here and there that we have to clean up. Penalties, not filling gaps good enough, or whatever it is we have to do better.”
Bullough’s Co-Defensive Coordinator Harlon Barnett agrees with Bullough. The Spartans have effort, but are lacking in execution and discipline. He said, “Well the personnel we have is the personnel we have and we recruited these guys and we love these guys and they're some good football players out there. So, we need to obviously get better technique-wise and we need to have better attention to detail, that's probably one of the biggest things that we need. Ten of 11 guys being perfect on a play doesn't get it done. So, we love our personnel, there's no doubt about it. Those are guys we brought in and they are working hard, but our attention to detail and technique both need to improve.”
For Barnett, he knows that if the Spartans are going to save the season he has to have Bullough in the lineup. So even with a loss against Northwestern, he knows what having #30 in the middles means.
“It was great to have him out there. He did bring an emotional lift especially early. There are no doubt the checks we ask him to make, he's able to make, and I think that he'll have as much of an impact coming off of a loss like this than at any other time, because after the last few weeks, he's been a guy that wasn't even on the football field. So it's hard to lead when you're not even playing. He's a fighter, he's a fighter. So he'll be in the forefront of getting this thing right.”
The Spartans are standing in a precarious position. At 2-4 the Spartans know that a loss at Maryland this weekend means that the season is in complete collapse. Barnett needs fighters and in Bullough as his captain he has one.
This team needs to “get things right” and a fighter like Bullough must lead the way. Before things get worse, much more worse.