Mel Tucker didn’t sugarcoat anything when he was asked about Michigan State’s rushing attack during the 2020 season. Though it has been an issue for the Spartans for the past three seasons, last fall was Tucker’s first experience with it.

Needless, even as a first-year head coach in East Lansing, Tucker wasn’t pleased.

“Putrid is a word that could be used,” Tucker told reporters on Tuesday, per Graham Couch of the Lansing State Journal.


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Last year, the Spartans averaged just 91.4 yards per game on the ground, ranking 13th in the B1G. They were only ahead of Purdue (81.5) and ranked 122nd nationally. Michigan State was one of just nine teams in college football that didn’t average at least 100 yards per game rushing.

Only twice did the Spartans eclipse 100 yards on the ground — appropriately enough in their two wins over Michigan and Northwestern. The Spartans totaled 126 yards against Michigan and piled up 195 against Northwestern. MSU scored on the ground just twice all season long.

Jordan Simmons was the team’s leading ball carrier with 219 yards and Connor Heyward added 200. The next highest-rusher was Elijah Collins with 90 yards on the ground.

It was bad all around.

Michigan State has ranked 13th in the B1G running the ball each of the past three seasons. In 2018, the Spartans averaged 124.9 yards per game and saw a modest improvement to 127.2 yards per game the following year. It wasn’t just special to Tucker’s first year in East Lansing.

Clearly, though, Tucker wants to get that aspect of MSU’s offense fixed.