Saturday, December 27th, 2014

Spartans Spend Second Day at AT&T Stadium

Photo By: Matthew Mitchell / MSU Athletic Communications

No. 8 Michigan State put in serious work with a two-and-a-half hour practice in full pads at AT&T Stadium in preparation for its Jan. 1 matchup with No. 5 Baylor in the 79th Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.

“(It was a) good practice, just getting our legs back underneath us,” said head coach Mark Dantonio. “It was a long practice, which we’re going to need to play well in the game on Thursday.”

The Spartans (10-2, 7-1 Big Ten) got back at it on the heels of assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi being named head coach at Pittsburgh a day earlier. Narduzzi was back with MSU for Saturday’s practice with the focus squarely on how to slow down the Bears’ potent offensive attack that leads the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in total offense (581.3 yards per game) and scoring offense (48.8 points per game).

“Coach Narduzzi has done a great job as our defensive coordinator,” said Dantonio. “It’s important to have him back and be a part of this. It’s important for our seniors to close their time here with this last game. That is what we’ve all talked about and this is a great example.”

In a game sure to feature two talented offenses, Michigan State comes into its second-ever meeting with Baylor (11-1, 8-1 Big 12) looking for its defense to be key in securing its 11th bowl victory. MSU enters the Classic ranked seventh in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in total defense (293.5 yards per game) and sixth in the FBS in rushing defense (97.5 yards per game).

Several special visitors stopped by practice today, including Dixon Edwards, who played for MSU from 1987-90 and enjoyed an eight-year NFL career that included five seasons with the Dallas Cowboys.

Just after practice, Dantonio announced that Harlon Barnett and Mike Tressel will be co-defensive coordinators with Barnett receiving the added title of assistant head coach for the 2015 season. Barnett and Tressel will be available for brief interviews prior to Sunday’s practice at AT&T Stadium beginning at approximately 12:45 p.m. The team opens Sunday in North Texas with its official news conference at the Omni Dallas featuring Narduzzi, DE Shilique Calhoun, LB Ed Davis, FS Kurtis Drummond, DE Marcus Rush and CB Trae Waynes.

The Goodyear Cotton Bowl celebrates its 79th edition on New Year's Day and kicks off a new era as a member of the College Football Playoff. Airtime on ESPN is set for 11:30 a.m. CST with kickoff slated for 11:45 a.m. For the first year, The Classic joins ESPN’s bowl lineup with Dave Pasch and Brian Griese on the call from the booth with Tom Luginbill reporting from the sideline.

For the third consecutive year, ESPN Radio returns as the Classic's national radio partner. Brad Sham, the "Voice of the Dallas Cowboys," teams with Kelly Stoufer in the booth and Ian Fitzsimmons from the sideline to describe all the action from AT&T Stadium. This will be Sham's 18th straight year as the Classic's play-by-play man and his 22nd overall.

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