INDIANAPOLIS (WOOD) — At the podium for his first Big Ten Media Days, Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker stressed his team’s forward momentum.

“I believe that your team is built in the weight room. We made tremendous strides in our strength and conditioning. We are bigger, faster, stronger,” Tucker, now in his second season leading the Spartans, said.

The players say they feel it, too.

“You can tell that the whole program is different,” wide receiver Jalen Nailor said. “You can just tell by everyone walking around. The way we walk around is different, it’s more intense, more focused on what we have to do. It’s going to be a great season. We’ve got some hungry guys on the team that are ready to make some things work.”

Though last season was a strange one because of the pandemic, Tucker said he’s not calling it a wash. In year two, he said, he expects improvement. He said coaching Michigan State has been his dream job since 1997 and he wants to bring home a national championship.

Michigan State will open its regular season with a Big Ten opponent, Northwestern, on Sept. 3.

One of the biggest differences from last season is that fans can again pack stadiums. The Spartans said they can’t wait.

“I am excited to finally be in Spartan Stadium with our fans,” Tucker said. “We have some of the most passionate fans in the country and there’s a lot of pent up demand for Spartan football.”

“You know how crazy (fans) can get. My mom and dad only got to come to my first two games, so they haven’t been back in the stadium, but they have been to every other one. So having them back will be fun and just getting out there with the boys,” safety Xavier Henderson said.

“I am just excited to see Spartan nation back in Spartan Stadium and I am ready to see my family at the games afterwards. They sacrificed so much for me to be at Michigan State and just to play in front of them means the world to me, and along with the fans also,” defensive end Drew Beesley agreed. “I am excited for Spartans Stadium to be filled up again. It’s going to be electric and I am pumped. I am ready to go.”