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Spartans forge on without Kenneth Walker III, want even more than they had in 2021

The Spartans return a large chunk of their starting offense including quarterback Payton Thorne
Posted at 11:01 PM, Jul 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-27 23:01:00-04

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Junior quarterback Payton Thorne is expected to lead Michigan State to the same level of success as they had in 2021. An 11-2 season with a victory over Michigan and the Peach Bowl will be hard to beat, but there's one game in particular on their mind.

"Michigan State hasn't won the Big Ten championship since 2015 and that's too long. Like coach said, 11-2, that doesn't put any wins in the win column this year. We're not carrying any over. You start 0-0. We have a new team, just as everyone in the country does and we've got new players and we lost some players. We have a new team and we have a good team, I believe," said quarterback Payton Thorne.

"Last year wasn't even our standard. So you know we always want to improve on the last thing we did. When we went 2-5, we knew that wasn't the standard. We had to do a lot of extra work to get to the point that we got to last year. We're never satisfied and 11-2 is not the standard. We want to win it all and that is the standard at Michigan State," said Jayden Reed.

So what comes next for the Spartans? Their most productive offense player, Kenneth Walker III isn't in East Lansing any more. Thorne says changes have been made and other players are ready to step up.

"That's a guy you can't really replace. He brought so much more to the table than just rushing yards and touchdowns. We brought in two new transfer running backs that are both very good players. And there were also guys behind Ken that are developing and getting better as well. Every year is different so our offense will be a little different in the things we do and don't do. And that will be unique to our offense this year," said Thorne.

Jayden Reed is one of the guys they'll lean on again. The senior receiver transferred from Western in 2019, had just more than 1,000 yards and ten touchdowns last year. He chalks that up to having confidence in his quarterback.

"That's my best friend, that's my brother. We've been playing together for a long time so I don't know. I feel like our chemistry is out matched because we've been playing together for forever. I trust him on any play, 4th down, i'd trust him on a 5th down I trust him to throw me the ball or throw anyone the ball," said Reed.

That wraps things up for Big Ten Football Media Days. Michigan State kicks off the season at home against Western on Friday, September 2.