Smith: Stopping UM? "Pick your Poison"

"We have to be able to come out and play physically with great effort, mentally we have to be focused, be sharp, execute assignments and we have to play with emotion." -- Michigan State head coach John L. Smith

EAST LANSING - Michigan State head coach John L. Smith seemed relaxed and even at ease as he spoke about the prospect of stopping #6 Michigan's big play offense.

Smith was asked about emerging threat Mario Manningham, the two-time Big Ten player of the week in 2006. When asked he had considered double-teaming the speedy sophomore he turned philosophical.

"It comes down to 'pick your poison'," said Smith. "Are you going to double on a Mario [Manningham] and then let them run the ball down your throat? Pick your poison, (Manningham's) pretty good."

Smith said for his team it comes to playing with what he considers his three keys for success.

"We have to be able to come out and play physically with great effort, mentally we have to be focused, be sharp, execute assignments and we have to play with emotion."

Emotion has often been a problem for Smith during his MSU tenure.

He frequently shows too much of it while his players don't seem to show enough. Smith is famous for his emotion filled quote at halftime of last year's Ohio State game when he uttered the legendary words, "the kids are playing their tails off and the coaches are screwing it up."

Following that game, MSU sleepwalked through the last six games of the season, winning just one, when a bowl bid was their for the taking had they won two.

Following the stunning upset loss to Illinois on homecoming, Smith said "he didn't have any answers" for why his team came out flat. He backed off that Monday saying that he had the answers, but apparently it wasn't the right one for the situation.

Now, after another 3-0 start, MSU has lost two games it should have won.

Senior captain Cliff Ryan angrily denounced the media for what he termed as bringing "negativity." Smith said, the team now has a 'circle the wagons' mentality.

"We're all together and we're going to come out and play as hard as we can play and prepare the very best that we can prepare and let's go."


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