April 18, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - ESPN College Football Live made an appearance in East Lansing, Mich., on Thursday, April 18, as Joe Tessitore and Jesse Palmer provided an update on the Michigan State Spartans during its "2013 Spring Bus Tour." Michigan State was the second-to-last stop during the program's two-week tour of eight college campuses.
Tessitore and Palmer did live updates on SportsCenter throughout the day on the remote set, located in the Duffy Daugherty Football Building weight room, including an interview with Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio. College Football Live's special on the Spartans aired on Thursday afternoon on ESPN2 and also at 3:30-4 p.m. on ESPNU. The show also featured on-set interviews with linebacker Max Bullough and quarterback Andrew Maxwell.
"The school and the football team were great, allowing us to do all of our shooting inside the weight room," said Palmer. "It gave it a really great feel. I think people at home understood where we were, looking at the weight room and all of the green and all the tremendous sayings and the championship trophies. It's a pretty neat environment - this has been a great stop on our tour."
After talking with Spartan players and coaches throughout the day, Palmer sees potential for Michigan State to impove upon their 7-6 season in 2012.
"I think what people always overlook is the fact that (Michigan State) was very competitive; those five conference losses were by a combined 13 points, and four of those five games they had the lead in the second half," remarked Palmer. "I think it's that mentality that's going to drive them this year.
"I don't think anyone should question whether or not this defense is going to be good or not, because they're going to be good. The last two years, they've been a top-six defense in total defense. They're going to be very aggressive with (defensive coordinator) Pat Narduzzi calling plays. And I think the schedule sets up great for this team this year.
"The biggest key obviously is going to be the offense. The largest question marks right now are surrounding the quarterback position to see who is going to win this quarterback competition. Andrew Maxwell I think has all of the intangibles you look for in a quarterback, and he certainly has the skill set. He has to execute better, and he needs help from the wide receivers. If this offense can make enough plays, then I think with this defense and the schedule, I think this team gets back to a double-digit win total."
Tessitore also came away impressed with the Michigan State program.
"Coach Dantonio was great opening up the program to us," he said. "We had a nice visit with Max (Bullough) and Andrew (Maxwell). I like this time of the year because it gives us a much better sense of where the programs are.
"I think Michigan State has a high standard of expectations. I think with what's been happening in recent years with Pat Narduzzi, this defense is truly elite.
"There's some questions to be answered (in 2013). They had a disappointing season (in 2012)...but the core of the program is still very much a double-digit (win) team that's capable of winning championships. A break or here or two, or a player with a little more experience, or Maxwell being a little more consistent and productive, and you have a completely different season."
In addition to College Football Live, ESPN.com college football reporters Brett McMurphy, Travis Haney and Chantel Jennings joined Thursday's spring bus tour stop to provide online content. The ESPN commentators and online reporters interviewed eight student-athletes along with Dantonio, Narduzzi, and co-offensive coordinators Dave Warner and Jim Bollman.
Last September, ESPN College GameDay made its sixth appearance on Michigan State's campus for the Big Ten opener against Ohio State.