After any heartbreaking-loss, there is always a period of transition.
First comes the obvious and inevitable stages of shock and grief: You may ask yourself, “How did this happen?” “Why did this happen to me?” “What did I do wrong?”
Then comes a period of coming to terms with the loss. A re-evaluation of the steps back one has taken after the sorrow begins to subside.
Lastly, anger begins to rear its ugly head.
In the last week, the No. 21 Michigan State Spartans (2-1) have gone through this entire process since their stunning 20-3 loss to No. 11 Notre Dame (3-0) and now they have settled upon the last stage before acceptance (should they ever choose to accept it): Anger.
And where is that anger focused? Upon today’s in-state opponent in the Eastern Michigan Eagles (0-3).
“Our mind-set needs to be, ‘We’re gonna blow this team out,’ ” says MSU junior safety Isaiah Lewis. “And when you train your mind to think like that, it reflects in your play.”
Or it can cloud your judgement. Though it is a safe bet to say that the Spartans should have no trouble securing a win at home against the Eagles, head coach Mark Dantonio and his squad lest be weary of the blindness that can develop from a seething rage.
“You oftentimes can take as much from a loss as you can from a win,” Dantonio told reporters of his team’s focus. “That’s what we will attempt to do — we will do.”
Loss is a powerful motivator to be sure, but unless that anger can be funneled into a focus and determination that will prove to assist you, rather than lead you astray, it most-certainly can cripple your abilities in the end.
“I want us to dominate this week,” said junior receiver Bennie Fowler. “I want us to separate ourselves, the receivers to separate themselves. I want every receiver to catch a pass. I want us getting vertical with the ball, making the big play.
“I want us to have great blocks on the outside for Nick (Hill), Larry (Caper) and Le’Veon (Bell). I just want a complete game from the offense.”
Dantonio has lead his team through some tough losses in the past and the Spartans have often proved themselves to be extremely resilient, but with the Ohio State Buckeyes just around the corner next Saturday, a fevered focus could prove to be just what Michigan State needs to get back on the winning track before the start of the Big Ten opener.
No. 21 Michigan State (2-1) hosts Eastern Michigan (0-3) Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in Spartan Stadium.
You can follow MSU Examiner, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.