OPINION: Coaching Staff Must Now Earn Keep

MSU's season will turn, for better or for worse, on their homecoming game against Indiana. With a win, MSU can stop the bleeding and buy a week to get some guys healthier. A loss and they head on the road amid a three-game losing streak and dates at Columbus and at Iowa City.

EAST LANSING - It all seemed so easy as the Michigan State Spartans cruised to a quick 4-0 start in the non-conference schedule, but then came a tough, but hard-fought loss to then #9 Wisconsin.

The Spartans players vowed, to a man, that this would not lead to a total collapse, but due to a number of factors, MSU lost a game it shouldn't have (Northwestern 44, Michigan State 41, OT) last Saturday to a one-dimensional Northwestern team, largely due to injuries and a lack of talent in the secondary.

Now staring at two straight losses, MSU comes into their homecoming (7:30pm EST, Spartan Stadium) against a potent 5-1 Indiana team sporting a dual-threat quarterback (Kellen Lewis) and a big-play threat receiver (James Hardy).

So what can the Spartans do to circle the wagons and avoid the total collapse that Spartans fans fear?

That's what the new MSU coaching staff, led by head coach Mark Dantonio must figure out now.

One of the biggest problems that Michigan State faces is injuries and a lack of production in the secondary. MSU's defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi started Travis Key alongside Nehemiah Warrick and said following the game "we thought we'd play our two best safeties at this point in the season and that's what we went with."

That is startling, as many felt junior Otis Wiley would be an all-league candidate. Wiley's name did not show up on the stat sheet. Former receiver T.J. Williams continues to start at one corner position, despite his lack of experience at the position. Freshman Chris L. Rucker is the other contributor at the corner position

Ross Weaver hasn't played since early in the season. MSU's coaches don't update player's health status, but it doesn't look like Weaver will be back anytime soon.

Another problem is MSU's mental psyche.

Running back Javon Ringer's said "this is my third year and I feel like this every year."

The MSU coaching staff has to undo the self-fulling prophecy that the football team can't finish.

This is going to be a long-term process. It won't be done in a week, in a month, or even a season and every group that experiences that kind of freefall takes it with them to the next class.

MSU's season will turn, for better or for worse, on their homecoming game against Indiana. With a win, MSU can stop the bleeding and buy a week to get some guys healthier. A loss and they head on the road amid a three-game losing streak and dates at Columbus and at Iowa City.

Now is when MSU's coaching staff has to earn their keep. MSU's head coach Mark Dantonio has said all season long this team will be defined by their ability to handle adversity.

There's more than enough of that to go around right now.

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