Sunday, October 30, 2011
On Saturday, MSU had two runs on third down, both successful. One was a designed run on 3rd and 2, the other a broken play Cousins scramble for a first down. The remaining 12 third down attempts were pass attempts. I don't have time to pull together all of the 3rd and shorts from this season, but how many times have we gone 5 wide on 3rd and short this season? More than two or three? Then it's too many. How many times have we lined up to run right on a critical third down to toss misdirection and run to the weakside?
I don't mean to get after Roushar about this, this was happening in a more controlled fashion under Treadwell too. Roushar had a bad day at the office on Saturday, I've had them, you've had them, that's fine. He hasn't been an OC since 2004, I bet there's a learning curve on that. This offensive identity crisis is something I've noticed for a while now and just had enough of this weekend.
So why mess with what's mostly working? Well, we're off to Iowa in 2 weeks. A place we haven't won a game since back when Jebediah Springfield settled Iowa City back in 1407. Our coaches need to put our players into a position to run for five yards on First Down and say "Hi, I'm Edwin Baker, I'll be running the ball down your damn throat for the next three hours." If we win at Iowa, I think we go to the B1G Title Game. SO WE HAVE TO WIN AT IOWA.
Fix the run game, rather, make the run game something to be feared and respected. It will make our offense something to be feared and respected. If you don't know who you are, how are you going to tell them who just whupped them up?
PS Congrats to Will Gholston on his 15 tackles and 2 sacks and whatever. He's dreamy.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Well folks, we lost and it sucked. Big breakdown coming on Monday. Watch the first offensive drive for keys on why playcalling did nothing to help us win. See following offensive drives for why our defense cracked in the second half.
As least we're not Iowa right now.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Ok, so here's the thing about Nebraska, for a team that is in it's first season in the Big Ten, they sure do like to kick our asses a lot. Nebraska is 5-0 against MSU historically, with the most recent loss coming in the 2003 Alamo Bowl(aka "Richie Incognito destroyed Stanton's knee and laughed while he plotted his next murder" bowl). We've made several attempts to their heroic coach of yore, Tom Osborne, but we lost out on that too. In short, they've owned us hard throughout the years.
While this is the same old Nebraska team(option rushing, strong defense) this Michigan State team is better than any version that has played Nebraska in years past. That's what will make this matchup interesting. That and Darrell and his other brother Darrell.
Every Thanksgiving the following conversation takes place:
Bo: I'm cutting the turkey.
Carl: No, I'm cutting the turkey. This requires a specialist and you look like Lord Voldemort.
Bo: Ok, you can cut the turkey, it'll give you a good moment to think about while you're in the unemployment line for mouthing off.
Carl: You're an asshole, where would you be without the revival of the blackshirts?
Bo: You mean without Ndamkoung Suh? What has your defense done since he left? Precisely dick. That's what. Whatever happened to that 4-1-6 you installed the year after Suh left? Oh it disappeared when you didn't have the best Defensive Tackle in 10 years to screw everything up for the other teams. Sit down you sad little man.
It happens at every single holiday gathering. I even heard that they played a 12 hour game of slapbelly fueled by egg nog, rum and sibling rivalry.
Nebraska Passing Attack vs MSU Pass Defense
Taylor Martinez can't throw a football. Like he may be physically capable, but his offense does not require or even really expect it. With a 55 percent completion percentage and 7 TD to 6 picks. He's a Nihilist dude, nothing to be afraid of.
Nebraska Rushing Attack vs MSU Rush Defense
MSU has held it's big ten opponents an average of 126 yards under their average rushing totals for the season so far. If that holds true tomorrow it would still mean allowing 135 yards rushing to the Huskers. They're really good at running the football, as they should be for an option team. In short, I think we'll give up 200ish yards to them on the ground. Despite that being good considering the quality of their rushing attack, it'll definitely be a bit like making out with the wrong person for a while before you realize the mistake you almost made.
Nebraska Rushing Defense vs MSU Rushing Attack
Nebraska is 70th in rushing defense. Which like, what the hell? Where's your blackshirt death Bo Pelini? Part of being an option team means having a good rush defense. So, uh? If only we had a common yardstick... and we do! Against Wisconsin, they allowed Wisconsin 50 carries for 231 yards. So Nebraska rushing defense is like 1990 Soviet Union, scary in name only. That said, our ability to run the ball this year has been like 1990 Yugoslavia, not even scary in name only. At dead last in the Big Ten it's kind of sad, whenever you finish behind in Indiana football in anything it's sad.However, our rushing attack will do better than usual because we've played some teams with good run defense, but won't be dominant.
Nebraska Passing Defense vs MSU Passing Attack
Nebraska has the 27th ranked pass defense but has allowed a lot of passing TD's(11) and few picks(5). Cousins is coming off the game of his career, so unless Nebraska plans to abandon defending the run and let Cousins pass freely, a small let down seems inevitable. I kind of like this match-up, our running game is enough that the Nebraska can't give up on it.
I dare not pick
This like the last few games seems like a game that could go either way. Nebraska is a bit of a paper tiger to me and the chief characteristic of Mark Dantonio teams is exposing pretenders. Still, until we have a year that does not feature an amazingly shitty away loss, I won't believe we can do without it. That loss doesn't come this week though. MSU makes the series 5-1 with it's first win against the Cornhuskers.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
A bloodless revolution has taken place at the Quarterback position in the Big Ten over the past several years. In 2006, zero quarterbacks rushed for over 450 yards. In 2011, two (Denard Robinson and Taylor Martinez) have already eclipsed that total. MarQueis Gray, Kain Colter(if he plays even one more game), Nathan Scheelhaase and Braxton Miller are on pace to meet that 450 yard mark. Russell Wilson is on pace to come up just short Gray and Scheelhaase could pass it this weekend. Miller and Colter should just squeak over it.
There in dead-assed last sits our hero. Mr. Kirk Cousins. With 16 rushes for -70 yards he's not a runner. That's almost exclusively sack yardage. It's not that he can't run, it's that he chooses not to. I might add the dude who took the terrible angle plays for the Chargers now.
So Why Am I So Happy That Our Throwback QB Is Coming Back To The Future?
A couple reasons. First, the Big Ten is the most boring conference in college football. The national opinion of Big Ten Football is that it is slow, anachronistic and boring. This is the same reason Michigan hired RichRod, they wanted to be the first to the block with the new brand of football. That and Rodriguez was the first dude to say yes. I am 100 percent ok with the rest of the country thinking we're a conference full of Robot Henne Quarterbacks who can't run at all.
Second, this over the years will provide a distinct recruiting and development advantage. Brian Hoyer who did not get drafted at all in pro football has been Tom Brady's backup for the past three seasons. Kirk Cousins is anywhere between third and seventh on most analysts Draft Board despite the fact passing wise he's the fourth best QB in the Big Ten. If you want to play in the NFL at QB how fast you are doesn't really matter at all, it's how well you throw the ball. Being a pro-style quarterback prepares you for playing in the pros.
Kirk Cousins is the last of a dying breed for a few reasons. The bulk of which have nothing to do with and are far more important than this article. He is a human being that is what's good in people. The one that interested me today though is that he is the last of a dying breed of dropback passer in the Big Ten. In spite of that all, I'm not sure I'd want anyone else.
Monday, October 24, 2011
I'm pretty sure Herbie could talk about anything for 20 minutes and make it sound like he knows his stuff. Easily the most polished of the bunch.
Good story about Izzo.
Here's the thing, actually there are two. Thing 1. If you think the fans sometimes carry the Little Brother thing too far, the media don't really help sometimes. Thing 2. You could see the writing on the wall for the gameday comments on Saturday that roiled the MSU fanbase so well.
See for as damned uncomfortable as I was physically on Saturday night this isn't about me or really the other 75,000 fans in Spartan Stadium. This night was about the Michigan State Football team. A team picked to win this game by no one except a handful of local media. A team who was minus one of their best players in Will Gholston and whose Defensive Coordinator was given one of the most wristslappy rebukes I have ever seen on Friday afternoon. An offense whose problems have been maligned even on this very blog laying out the mighty Badgers for 37 points. A
Keith Nichol's day in the sun. Holy crap if this kid hasn't earned it. He could have chosen not to come back after spurning MSU for the Sooners. But he did. He could have left after losing out the starting job to Kirk Cousins in 2009, but he didn't. He could have tried to beat out Cousins for the gig in 2010, but he didn't, he chose instead to be a Wide Receiver because he thought it's where he could best help the team. With that touchdown grab, Keith Nichol has 202 yards and 1 Touchdown on the season, hardly stultifying numbers, but way to make your one count. Congratulations sir.
As a result, I think our team would have kicked Badger ass with or without us on Saturday night, but I'm happy I was invited to spectate.
- Keshawn Martin the Wide Receiver appears to be back to form. I thought his receiving struggles were related to the lack of a legitimate 2 receiver and him being asked to play outside of his typical slot role, but some switch flipped for him in the past couple games. Keshawn Martin the Punt Returner still looks a skosh iffy to me.
- Congratulations to Kyler Elsworth. A HUGE 3rd down stop in the second quarter to force the Badgers to kick a field goal that was subsequently blocked. Speaking of blocking, did you know he blocked that punt that was then returned for a touchdown. Congrats Mr. Elsworth.
- The Wisconsin playaction is breathtaking and their run game is always enough of a threat that you cannot write off the run on playaction. There were several times in this game that the run was sold so well I had no idea that it was a pass until the ball was in the air. Our defense was outstanding on Saturday despite giving up 31 points.
- 1. The number of interceptions Russell Wilson had this season coming into the MSU game. 2. The number of interceptions he had during the game. Our defense managed to do twice what one other team had done once all season. Pick off another September Heisman candidate.
- Missing Will Gholston in my opinion almost cost us this game. Not really in quarters 1,2 or 3. Specifically in Quarter four when Wisconsin was completing passes because they had ALL DAY to throw. That's where Will would have made the difference helping get to Wilson just a half second sooner would have made that game less interesting in my opinion. Glad we'll have him back for the remainder of the season.
- Did Bielema Choke this game away? Mostly no. The timeout he called on 2nd and 20 was a good decision. The one he called on 3rd and 8 was not. State would have had to call a timeout in that situation anyway which means we have one less for the Rocket play. Hindsight's 20-20 of course, but there was just too much field to defend for him to think he was really going to pull that off on 3rd and 8.
Anyway, great win, program win maybe even? Great game to watch and might be the set up for a huge rivalry going forward.
Side note, I actually wrote this during Michigan week while I was killing time, so some of the things are future tense. What is not however is that Bielema is a choker.
Here's a BieLOLema while you think it over.
Thank you Black Heart Gold Pants love your blog, hate your coach.
You're still here? Good. Let's begin.
After Ty's remarkable missive on Juggalos and Walverines last week, it seems only fitting that we play Wisconsin this week. At Wisconsin, even the marching band are a bunch of meatheads. Who has a marching band get suspended for a game? Wisconsin, that's who. Who has a fan base that harasses Tom Osborne and his merry band of nonagenarians? Wisconsin, that's who. Who has a tradition of taking some of America's Whitest Kids and having them dance to one of the top hip-hop songs of the 90s?
Wisconsin, That's Who.
So it should come as no surprise to you that in 2005 when it came time to look for his replacement, Barry Alvarez was no fool. He wanted a known quantity, a populist hero, a meathead he could rely on and Bret Bielema was the perfect man for the job.
First off, look at the guy. He looks like a fat gym teacher who hangs out at an old folks home looking for a date. He looks stupid. He's also a reggae guy, I remember an interview with a recruit that talked about him groovin' on Marley to impress a recruit and thinking "What a doosh.", but in fact:
MADISON, Wis. — Sitting in his cavernous office that overlooks Camp Randall Stadium, island reggae music growling on a stereo system, Wisconsin head football coach Bret Bielema laughs and recalls an assistant's first trip to a local supermarket.
The Truth Hurts Sometimes
Second, the windbreaker. He wears that stupid damned windbreaker around like it's going to get him enshrined at the College Football Hall of Fame. "Here is the bronzed windbreaker of Bret Cornelius Bielema, he wore this windbreaker whilst dispatching UNLV in 112 degree weather 73-20, flew home and won a Deep Fried Cheese Curd eating contest while doing a keg stand." I understand the need to brand yourself as a coach these days. Spurrier with his fabulous visor, Sweatervest, Pete Carroll with sunglasses and cheating. I guess in fairness Windbreaker might have been the only cold weather item left, but you could brand yourself by winning.
Oh wait, he has branded himself by winning. Like an asshole. Bret Bielema hung 70 on Austin Peay and 83 on Indiana in 2010. Wisconsin basketball only scored 83 three times last year. Sure you can say, it's not Bret Bielema's job to keep Wisconsin out of the opponent's endzone. You are entitled to that opinion, just like I am entitled to the opinion Bielema is a dickbag. I have to imagine last year when he lost to TCU in the Rose Bowl, people were like "Bret, you failed to run enough when you had success with Montee Ball early on? What happened?" He was like: "Hurr, I am a banana. Scoring 70 on Austin Peay helped us get here but NOT scoring 91 is probably what kept us from knowing how to finish. I need some beer."
Finally, if you're going to go to the Rose Bowl instead of us, despite us beating you head-to-head. Run the damned ball when you're having success on a defensive line 60 lbs smaller than yours. When your backs are averaging 5.8 per carry, run the damn ball. This is the most important piece of all as to why I hate Bret Bielema, he can't close. In 2008, the clock was winding down in East Lansing, we had to hurricane kick with :02 seconds left to go, and he called a timeout to "ice the kicker". Swenson made the field goal and Spartans win. The guy can't close, because he's slow. A point further proved in 2011 East Lansing.
So there you have it, meathead of the people, branding himself for what purpose no one is really sure, no cupcake left behind and not a good coach in crunch time. I loathe Bret Bielema for all of these reasons and probably some more, but most of all despite all of these things he has the most successful team in the Big Ten the past 5 years. The luckiest doosh in the big ten. See you in Indy for the Big Ten Title Game.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Erin Andrews was raised under Florida’s constant sun. America’s Sideline Princess isn’t used to the crisp October weather for which this blog is named.
Her first order of business in East Lansing was to hop on Twitter and jokingly beg for temperate mercy. She wore a scarf throughout our indoor media session. Still, when asked about her impression of Michigan State, the first words out of Andrews’s mouth were “It’s like home,” then “it’s like family.”
That made me smile. To me, Michigan State fandom is all about family, and how more appropriate could that statement be on Homecoming?
Andrews, of course, has been here many times covering basketball. “I felt like a distant relative of Tom Izzo,” she said, for all the times she’s been to the Breslin Center. “I’d really appreciate if we could play the game tomorrow in the Breslin Center,” she said, “these temps are not exactly my favorite. But I’m excited to be here; it’ll be a great game.”
Today’s GameDay will feature Lee Corso’s 200th headgear-donning game prediction. Asked about the significance of that, Andrews pointed out that she’s the only member of the GameDay cast to have actually camped out for GameDay as a student. “I like to remind the guys of that,” she said with a smile, “to date them a little bit.”
Of course, since Andrews was a student, ESPN College GameDay Built by Home Depot has grown into an even bigger deal, a bigger production, more of a circus. She gestured to the enormous stage on Munn Field, being put through it’s paces by production staff, and said “I mean, look at that! That looks like Barnum and Bailey. We’re the lions and tigers. It’s nuts.”
Andrews talked about the impact the show has had on the popularity of the game itself. “I think the biggest reason why college football is so popular, and why guys who play this sport become super stars, is because of this show. We’re out every week doing features on them.” She explained that GameDay is as exciting and motivating for the players as it is for the fans. “It’s such a big deal if Chris or Kirk talks about you,” she said, “or if Coach Corso says your name. I think this show is one of the biggest reasons why this sport is where it is.”
Of course, the game itself must be worthy of the spectacle, and MSU – Wisconsin is. “I’m excited,” she said. “It’s going to be a game you definitely want to tune in for, especially with all the comments by Michigan State’s defense about ‘Get ready, Russell Wilson, we’re coming after you, Russell Wilson’.” Like Heck at The Only Colors, I love love love a swaggering, trash-talking defense that backs it up. When she said that, I swallowed hard. Let’s hope they back it up.
I cheered up again when she said Wisconsin was “heartbroken” last year after their loss to Michigan State. “They wanted to come back, to do it under the bright lights, Russell Wilson’s got this Heisman campaign, I mean, this is it. This where you find out if you’re good enough to go to New York.”
For the Michigan State Spartans, of course, this game is a test of something else: whether they’re good enough to go to Indianapolis.
See when you get to speak with the GameDay staff and 60 percent of the questions revolve around the game and aftermath of last week's game, you're missing a great moment to talk about the present and very immediate future. Although, in fairness Howard might have brought it on himself a bit.
People did not really care for his Lions hat.
What conversation did focus on today's matchup with the Badgers centered on this one key element. The defense is the marquee unit of the Michigan State Football team. Yet, they're the ones with the most to overcome in terms of moving on from the past to the present. Will Gholston was suspended on Thursday and then Friday Pat Narduzzi was admonished for his 60 minutes of necessary roughness comments. Both Herbie and Howard supported the suspension of William Gholston and were willing to spend a few minutes talking the fallout of MSU's dirty play.
Yet it's clear that the Spartans have earned the respect of both Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard. Herbstreit said: "Their mentality and the way they play, if you're a defensive guy, you've gotta love that." Howard said: "The Michigan State defense is one of the statistically best defenses in the nation." Gritted teeth were involved for Howard, but definitely some respect.
Still, what remains clear after our meet and greet with Howard, Herbstreit and Erin Andrews (more on that later), is that this game is about one thing. The Defense in East Lansing defending East Lansing. Defending East Lansing from media jib-jabbing, defending their suspended players from more criticism and defending the goal from a ferocious Badger offense. (Obligatory Badger Reference) With so much attention placed on the style of the Defense this week, how could the game come down to anything but their play? Tonight, tune in and view the Defense of East Lansing.
Friday, October 21, 2011
You can get involved by getting up early tomorrow and heading down to campus. Parking will open in the Comm Arts ramp at 6:30 a.m. If you intend on being in the first few rows, you'll want to be there a couple hours before GameDay airs from 9 to noon. Parking for students can be done, but it will involve a trip using the old Airwalks.
As fans, we don't often get to directly influence the course of anything for team we bleed green and white for. In home games, we might draw a false start or cause the opposing team to take a timeout. In away games depending on the place, we might get pelted by batteries or into a fight in the stands or even in the case of Northwestern set up a home like atmosphere. Largely, the game happens outside of us, we just get to show up and watch.
However, this is different. Desmond Howard unintentionally threw down the gauntlet. When asked "What do you expect tomorrow?" he answered, "We've had some fantastic crowds, Ann Arbor, Tallahassee, Morgantown and since we're back on campus we'd like to keep that trend of fantastic crowds." This is something we can show up and represent MSU with lots of Spartan Pride and give them a crowd to remember.
You are going to be on ESPN.
You’re reading this; you know where you’re going. Early Saturday morning, you’ll swathe yourself in Green and White and drive to campus. You’ll wait until 6:00 am, when they’ll let you park in the Trowbridge ramp for $15. You’ll proceed to Munn Field, which will be opened for you (and thousands of your closest friends) at 7:00. Two hours later, the football-watching world will see you piped into their home—and the strength of our numbers.
Last time ESPN College Gameday came to Michigan State, it was 2005. The Spartans were a miserable 5-5. GameDay was not there to witness a clash of titans; they were there to crown Penn State.
This season, ESPN is putting Michigan State on the biggest possible stage. We’re playing for extraordinarily high stakes. We’ll host the Wisconsin Badgers, the usurpers of our rightful 2010 Rose Bowl berth. As you know, MSU is 5-1 and the Badgers are 6-0; both teams are undefeated in-conference. A win would put either school in the driver’s seat to win their B1G division.
Last week, Jim wrote eloquently about the Little Brother mentality. It’s clear that the team has overcome this complex, but have the fans? Saturday will be the true test.
Everyone even casually associated with Michigan State understands the importance of the Michigan rivalry; campus was saturated with fans last week. But do we really play a one-game season, in fans’ minds? Has the team already accomplished everything fans hungered for?
Us Michigan State fans have always held the great teams of Biggie Munn and Duffy Daugherty dear. We’ve been raised to believe our rightful place in the NCAA hierarchy is at or near the top; we should perennially compete for Rose Bowl berths and occasionally be amongst the best in the land.
The reality’s been different.
The other day, my family went to our dentist. In his hallway, he’s hung a matted and framed aerial photo of the 1988 Rose Bowl. My son eagerly asked questions about it; while answering I heard myself say I was his big sister’s age—seven years old—the last time MSU played in Pasadena.
Last season was very nearly Michigan State’s triumphant return to the top of the Big Ten food chain; this game and the next could right 2010’s wrong. It’s no secret the Marks Dantonio and Hollis aim to elevate Michigan State football back to its lofty historical perch. Part of that means not being satisfied with a winning record, a bowl berth, and beating Michigan. Part of being a perennial conference contender and occasional national contender is understanding the stakes for which our Spartans play.
This game, against this opponent, with each team’s respective records, and a national prime time audience, should be importance enough. Spending all day and all night tailgating before showing up in droves would normally be fine. But Spartan fans have an incredible opportunity to show that not only our team is ready for the national stage, but our school, program, and fans are too.
Really, this is all wasted effort on my part. I don’t know why I’m writing to you. I don’t know why I’m preaching to the choir. You’ll be there. You’ll be wearing your colors and screaming in and out of commercial breaks and you’ll cheer your brains out when the 200th piece of mascot headgear Lee Corso ever dons is a Sparty head.
Don’t worry, I didn’t mean to harangue you, proud and loyal Spartan.
I’m talking to everyone else.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
However, as I started out saying, I'm happy to watch basketball passively instead of critically and it's for that reason I'm starting out with the disclaimer right now. If you want cogent or frequent basketball analysis this isn't going to be the place for it. If that's what you want and you're not already reading The Only Colors you should be. They do work. That said, on with the show.
Here comes the rain, the cold, the yuck. Where football season and tailgating starts to get a bit raw, where you come home from every game and changing back into just a shirt after wearing seven clothes makes you feel like you lost 20 lbs in seconds. As I sit and write, it's pouring cats and dogs outside and there's 25 mph winds. This is normally the time of year I pick up a Sports Illustrated and see MSU B-ball is ranked in the top 5.
This year though, Izzo enters the season ranked 28th in the Coaches Poll which isn't even really ranked. He suffered the loss of Delvon Roe several weeks ago, Korie Lucious & Garrick Sherman last season, Chris Allen the offseason before that. We graduated Kalin Lucas, Durrell Summers and Mike Kebler. We've lost six players since last year that contributed significant minutes to our 2010 MSU basketball team.
This might be the best thing to revitalize MSU basketball in a long time. What's Izzo ranked today? He isn't. He opens against #1 UNC and follows that up that by playing #6 Duke. So even if he opens 0-2 then he's still not ranked, he mulligans and he starts over. Can't lose there, you're playing with house money. He's going to be rotating in freshmen this year and lots of them. He has young players in Payne, Appling and Nix who have experience playing, but are far from savvy veterans.
He basically gets to blow up the team and start over with young, inexperienced and most importantly talented players that are malleable. A coaches dream for winning championships in the future. Who's gonna help old Tom whip this whippersnappers into shape? Draymond Green.
I've called Draymond Green in the past the Drew Stanton of Michigan State Basketball. He can do it all and sometimes does things a person would never think to do usually good, occasionally bad. He is tough, he works hard, he's a good kid and he can flat out ball. He manages to be a shining star of the team while still putting the team first. He's exactly what you want to teach all of the young pups to be and this is his team.
This is the first year in quite sometime Izzo has been freed of top 10 expectations by writers who forget that Izzo is brilliant in March and is still learning his guys in November. Izzo is free to experiment, to build, to have more teaching moments than usual. This is a year where if MSU basketball finishes in the top 3 of the Big 10 it's a joy, not an expectation. With reasonable expectations, this could be a great year for MSU basketball.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Here's another one
Michigan State marches down the field but they're out of timeouts. They march all the way down to the 23 and get a first down with 11 seconds to go. THe hurricane kick unit comes out and it's gonna be close and HOLY CRAP AND A!!!!!!!!
Timeout? To ice the kicker? It's totally icing the kicker to call timeout instead of making him rush through a field goal. Except that it's not, it's giving him a chance to relax and go through his normal routine.
Noticing a trend yet, if not, allow me to convince you
Bielema is 14-10 on the road and 10-10 in the Big Ten in road games. His record against top 25 road teams is 2-3(to be fair, I'd bet most coaches aren't better on the road). The Big Ten road teams he beats Iowa, Purdue, Minny and one at Michigan. The ones he loses to OSU, PSU, MSU, Michigan, Illinois and Northwestern. So loses to quality opponents, beats easy ones. Check.
Wisconsin's Passing Attack vs MSU Pass Defense
Well, Wisconsin's passing attack is led by Russell Wilson. In case you've been living under a Big Ten rock for the past three or four months, he transferred from NC State after deciding he wanted to play for an actual football team. This season he's been 95 of 128 for 14 TD's and a pick. On top of being the Playstation champion of the Big Ten so far, his pocket presence is amazing. During the Nebraska game, I watched him look in the pass rush, both Defensive Ends got good penetration, he simply stepped about eight inches to the right to avoid the defenders looking downfield and fired a pass 20 yards downfield for a first down. So 74 percent completion rating, 14 to 1 TD-INT ratio and amazing pocket presence. We're probably screwed, I'd guess.
You know, our pass rush isn't too damn bad. You might even say after turning in 16 sacks the last two games, they're pretty damn good. You might even go on to say that there were probably another 5-10 times only the speed of Denard Robinson or Braxton Miller got them away from said sack. Further, Michigan State has eight interceptions on the season, three of which have been returned for touchdowns.
Of course, there is the matter of Will Gholston. He's been beastly in the past two games, maybe even a little too beastly. Simply put, you can't punch a dude, no matter what. I don't expect him to play in this game, nor do I think he should and that sucks.
Advantage: Push(slight lean Wisconsin)
Wisconsin Rushing Attack vs. MSU Run Defense
Wisconsin brings in the seventh ranked rushing offense in the country. The running backs James White and Montee Ball have combined for 25 TDs this season. That's a lot of damn TDs. The rushing game is averaging 29.2 points per game. MSU's total offense is averaging 28 points per game. Their rushing attack is fierce and real.
By contrast MSU's Rushing Defense is averaging giving up 67 yards a carry and has surrendered three touchdowns on the year so far. They have yet to play a rushing offense as strong as Wisconsin's and won't play one again this year. Again, this is a match-up of strength on strength.
Last year MSU held Wisconsin 80 yards below their average on the year for rushing. This year they held Michigan 150 yards below season average, OSU 140 yards below average and even in their loss held ND 80 yards below season average.
MSU Passing Attack vs Wisconsin Pass Defense
Wisconsin brings in the fourth ranked pass defense allowing only 146 yards per game with seven interceptions on the year. They have 14 sacks on the year and are absolutely for real. That's stingy.
Cousins has his work cut out for him this week. Last year he played one of the best games of the season going 20 of 29 for 269, 3 TD's and 2 picks. He will need to play that sort of game this week and probably even better for MSU to have a chance at winning. Keshawn Martin will need to build on the success he had during the Michigan game(maybe even avoid fumbling in the open field). It might even be nice to start working our TE's back into the passing game. Cousins will need lots of receiving options on easy routes to take advantage of this Wisconsin pass defense.
MSU Rushing Attack vs Wisconsin Rush Defense
Wisconsin brings in the 42nd ranked rushing defense which is decent, but not impressive. If you consider their best rushing opponent Nebraska tossed up 159 yards on them that looks impressive, until you realize that's 95 yards below their season average.
On the other hand MSU's rushing attack was pretty anemic until last week. They'll need to play another pitch perfect game to take advantage of the Wisconsin defense. Like Michigan, Wisconsin has looked softer on the edges than in the middle which means expect heavy doses of Baker with a bit of Bell sprinkled in for good measure.
You didn't think I walked through all the Bielema road-fail so that I could pick him in this section did you?
Overall: Wisconsin is heavily favored in this game and they should be on paper. Statistically, they have the upper hand in almost every category. Still Wisconsin has not yet played an away game and the only quality opponent they've played is a Nebraska team that in my opinion is overrated. They look like Tarzan, but they've only played Jane so far. The Evidence says: 38-21 Wisconsin. THe What-If-Bielema-Choke-You-Always-Play-Cupcakes-And-Have-A-Crappy-Career-Road-Record says: 20-17 MSU.
Let's go with the What-If-Bielema-Choke-You-Always-Play-Cupcakes-And-Have-A-Crappy-Career-Road-Record on this one.
Bonus: Ty and I have been invited to attend a meet and greet with the GameDay crew on Friday afternoon. If you have any questions you want us to ask, leave them in the comments and we will demand answers or #OccupyHerbstreit.
Monday, October 17, 2011
As I was driving home from Saturday's game, I got Chris Vannini's tweet saying that the D-Line two games into the conference season has sacked the opponent's QB a total of 16 times. That's more than most of the NCAA has for the whole season in case you're keeping track at home. They held another strong offense 200 yards below their season average and had a pick six. Simply put, they are good. Like the first time you saw Jurassic Park good.
What was absolutely kicks me in the junk about this defense is how young they are. As Jamie Mac of the Just Cover Blog pointed out, seven of our defensive starters this year are from the class of 2010. (I would argue that Pickelman is more of a starter than Rashad White, but that doesn't really detract from the point.) The point is our defense is stupid young.
After a seasonal defensive performance the likes of which I haven't ever seen, at the end of 2011 we will definitely lose Trenton Robinson, Kevin Pickelman and more than likely lose Jerel Worthy. At the end of 2012 we'll get dinged some more when we lose Johnny Adams, Rashad White and Chris Norman. Here's the amazing thing folks, in 2013, the following players will still be at the positions they're playing today: Marcus Rush, Will Gholston, Denicos Allen, Max Bullough, Darqueze Dennard and Isaiah Lewis. Gholston may go pro, but eh, he's has to settle down some first.
In the class of 2010 we have a few other players who are seeing significant minutes. Kurtis Drummond has been seeing lots of time as our nickel back in our third down package. Tony Lippett has been tabbed as the next two-way player at MSU. Jeremy Langford seems to have found a home at corner grabbing a pick-six against FAU and looks to try and move up the depth chart from there.
We have managed to redshirt the entire class of 2011 save one, Taiwan Jones. Taiwan Jones is a manchild at 6'3" and 234 and has spent his freshman year so far destroying people on kick returns. So in 2011, we're redshirting three LB's, two CB's, 3-4 DT's depending on what position Brandon Clemons ends up at and 2 DE's. It's difficult to expound on how GOOD they'll all be because we haven't seen any of them play. However, ratings, we got 'em. All three and four star kids. I really thought coming into this season that redshirting all but one member of the 2011 class meant that our class needed seasoning, but what's obvious only now is that why bother burning eligibility when you can sit everyone and have them gain more experience?
It's beyond difficult to look at this current defense and not start thinking about if Dantonio has finally got his pieces into place to build the Championship Defense Dantonio has wanted since he came to town in 2006. We are young, we are kicking ass and with redshirting almost our entire defensive class we are going to be as good or better next year. If in 2012 we find ourselves in a position to ask ourselves if our defense is any good or not, it should be a pretty simple question to answer. We can just ask any of the nine returning starters from 2011.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
- Our defense is outstanding. They have made sixteen sacks in the first two games of the Big Ten season. MSU still has to face a real solid passing quarterback yet, but this defense has IT. Whatever the hell IT is.
- No sacks surrendered by our Offensive Line. This seems like it's one part adjusting the playbook for quick passes, one part that our Offensive Line is improving. The Offensive Line deserves a shout-out for this. Yes, they need work, but jeez they've stepped up to the challenge so far.
- Sadler may not have the booming leg or the Hagerup coffin corner thing down, but damn if he isn't efficient and he is already playing heady football. The Craig Jarrett Supertoe will come.
- Edwin Baker was found in East Lansing today. Apparently, he had been suiting up for MSU all along? His rushing total of 167 was more than his last four games put together. He did a great job busting the outside runs.
- Keshawn Martin got 3 catches for 31 yards and had some killer blocks in this game. I don't remember him ever being a run blocker of any import, but apparently, he can get the job done when it's time.
- Congrats to Keshawn Martin and Trenton Robinson. These two players will never know the sting of a loss to Michigan. Congrats to the rest of the redshirt senior class.
- I thought that Brady Hoke and his players comments were classy. In a game where we had a lot of thug-ish type penalties, Hoke and his players were complimentary of MSU, each other and gracious in defeat.
- Seriously, WTF with the penalties? I understand they're might be a tiny element of intimidation with all of the roughness and I want to see big hits too, but if we were playing a team that was successful in captalizing on those sorts of errors, we'd have lost big. We're VERY lucky those penalties didn't come back to haunt us.
- It was very windy today, so obviously that's the reason we had two open-field fumbles and no interceptions. Baker had one and I think Martin had the other, I had a bad line of sight on that one. To assume Martin had an end around though is generally considered acceptable practice. I have no idea what that was about though.
- Kirk Cousins, 13/24 for 120 and 2 TDs with no picks. That's ugly.
Our defense is talented, young and kind of stupid. I really hope we can hang onto Narduzzi after this year although, I'm mildly skeptical at this point. This defense is stupid good and Duzzer is gonna get some phone calls. Young and talented will help us vs. Wisky. Stupid will kill us. As obvious as the sun will come up tomorrow something has to be done about those penalties.
Michigan's defense was improved and will continue to improve. I think they will be a bit in flux for the next couple of seasons their D will continue to improve, their O will probably tail off a bit and then build back up. The D will improve because they will continue to get better players each year in the positions. The O will struggle as they make the transition from spread and shred over to MANBALL. I think in 2-4 years they'll be consistently back to playing pro-style offense and power defense.
While I'm enjoying this run of victory and will certainly have these words thrown back in my face the first time we lose, I look forward to making sure Hoke has his pieces in place and that we have ours. When our rivalry game can be about who played the best game and not who limited mistakes most effectively, those should be games that will fuel the rivalry for years to come.
Finally, HOLY SHIT THAT WAS AN AWESOME WIN!
Friday, October 14, 2011
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Between my office and a major freeway interchange, there is a Wal-Mart. I think it’s the “Super” kind, too. Normally I shop at Meijer, but every once in a blue moon I need to get from my office to the freeway and buy something they don’t sell at gas stations; Super Wal-Mart is there for me.
On one of these excursions, I was waiting in line for the U-Scan when I heard noises behind me that sounded like talking but not like words. I turned and found myself face to face with a person staring at me with wide, unblinking eyes.
He was holding a 30-pack of Busch, the kind that comes in the collector camouflage box with blaze orange letters. He had on light-wash blue jeans with epic holes in the knees. On his head was a plain black baseball cap bearing the word “JESUS” in white capital letters. Under his nose was something that might have been alive but was probably a moustache. On his torso was a University of Michigan T-shirt.
I stared at him.
He stared at me.
I stared at him.
He stared at me.
I turned around, paid for my merchandise, and left.
This was the legendary “Wal-Mart Wolverine,” encountered in his natural habitat. I was too close to the beast to pull out a camera and take a picture, but like James Audubon I returned with this detailed accounting of the animal for academic enlightenment.
I am a sports fan at the crest of the Web 2.0 wave. My personal passions and professional skills pitch me right into the wheelhouse of the sports blogging demographic. I am thirty years old, white, male, college-educated, and see all things with a critical eye and a burning desire to know. I have a balanced life with wife, children, and white-collar career—but make time for all of my various hobbies and interests, because I’m just a geek like that and all this crazy has to go somewhere. I will sleep when I am dead.
I am incredibly privileged.
I count amongst my privileges that I was able to attend Michigan State University, as did my mother, and her father before her—not to mention my wife, both her sisters, both her parents, my stepmother . . . we are privileged. We don The Only Colors as symbols of our pride in and loyalty to the school that helped us become the people we are, and to which we paid a hell of a lot of money for the privilege.
We love and cheer for our school and its sports teams. When I was in school, I knew many athletes (I was in Case Hall), and it was incredible to see the people I hung out with all week don the armor and the livery and take the field to battle our “enemies.” It’s what’s incredible about college athletics: it’s our students against your students, and may the best team win.
We take that rivalry from the stands to the streets, and take turns jawing with family, friends, coworkers and strangers over whose lyceum reigns supreme. Sometimes it’s all in good fun. Sometimes it gets heated. Sometimes it turns ugly.
Sometimes you’re sitting in your Wolvie boss’s living room with all of his friends watching Michigan State lose 49-3 on his six-foot projection TV and you’re the only MSU fan there and they’re all giving you the business and even though what you really want to say is “Look, dude, you went to U of M Flint” you can’t so you mutter something about basketball season and know that someday the shoe will be on the other foot.
Sometimes that Wal-Mart Wolverine sees your team colors and starts jawing at you and telling you you “suck” and you want to know where in the hell he gets off telling you you suck when he’s never even been to Ann Arbor and his only connection to the football team that beat your football team is the T-shirt he bought here at Wal-Mart two years ago.
This is where we take a step back and talk about class.
The Wal-Mart Wolverine does not have Michigan’s two-deeps memorized. The Wal-Mart Wolverine does not know which crucial recruits M is vying for. The Wal-Mart Wolverine may only be dimly aware that Rich Rodriguez is no longer the coach. The Wal-Mart Wolverine brands himself a Michigan fan because it’s a cheap and easy way to feel like a winner. He feels like a winner when Michigan wins on Saturday, and he feels like a winner during the week when he talks shit to some ponytailed fag wearing an Spartan polo and Tweeting on an iPhone.
Look, I didn’t graduate from State. I worked in the trades on a per-hour, sometimes-cash-only basis until I figured out who I wanted to be when I grew up. I spent a lot of time working side-by-side with guys who had precious little going for them besides a strong back, a permanent tab at their favorite bar, and a Michigan T-shirt.
So it is with the Juggalo Spartan. I cringed at Brian’s description of the State fans in Ann Arbor last year:
That was Saturday: financial mathematicians screaming at Juggalos, and the Juggalos winning. The State meathead directly behind me literally said "bitch! fuck you!" whenever MSU tackled Denard Robinson for less than five yards. On Friday, Tim came back to his apartment to find a trail of blood leading to a passed-out State meathead who'd broken in. The same guys who clumsily spray-painted a bedsheet in 2008 to declare their glorious victory over the worst Michigan team in 50 years reprised their genius. As I walked home every glassy-eyed Stiffler that passed me upped the amplitude of my anger/depression cocktail. Jesus, they were everywhere. They came to Ann Arbor cocky and stupid and left cocky and stupid. Enduring it was brutal. In their eyes, that was probably the point.
I brand myself with that the same Michigan State fandom that those a-holes do, and it kills me—kills me—to hear that people who call themselves Spartan fans would say and do those terrible things. But Brian hit something else on the head: those probable-Juggalos “almost certainly didn't even go to the game because they couldn't afford it.” They’re poor. They’re definitely ignorant, and probably stupid. They didn’t go to State, or likely any college. They didn’t earn their fandom with tuition and classes like he did his and I did mine.
So first, let’s call a spade a spade: the phenomenon of Wal-Mart Wolverines and Juggalo Spartans is a whole lot more about the struggle of class against class than between Michigan and Michigan State. They didn’t go to the big fancy school in the town where they grew up—but by cheering for the rival they get to lord it over those who did. They don’t represent their fan bases any more than the twisted Alabama fan who poisoned the oaks at Toomer’s Corner knows Violent J from Jay-Z.
Let’s let the common person who just wants a weekend escape have their escape without demanding to see their qualifications, and let’s hate the thugs and vandals on either side for their thuggery and vandalism, not their alignment. I’m not going to spray paint somebody’s car with “STATE” misspelled any more than Brian’s going to kill a 30-pack of Busch during the next UFR.
Second, let’s remember how awesome this rivalry is. My grandfather sat in the Spartan Stadium stands and hated Michigan—just as my mother did and as I do. We have the Internet now; we have computers that fit in our pockets and talk to the Internet everywhere, and we can interact with each other at any time of day or night all year ‘round. We can steep ourselves in the tradition and the vitriol and the misery and the triumph and all day every day for as much as we can stand. That’s a privilege; let’s treat it as such.
I stand with my Wolverine-loving iFriends as fans of Big Ten college football, and I want our annual battle to be played for the highest possible stakes every single year. I want our rivalry to be a marquee contest that draws national attention, and has national implications. I want to hate and taunt and mock and deride and seethe at each other with the respect, dignity, and yes—class—that befits ladies and gentlemen of privilege and higher education.
Also, I hope we kick their ass.
This marks the third year in a row we're going to be playing Michigan's September Heisman Winner. This is the third year in a row we're playing an undefeated Michigan team that's going to beat us until we can't stand. In 2009, 2010 and 2011 Michigan's combined record coming into this game has been 15-0. We have been the Lloyd Carr to the JLS Wolverines the past couple of years and I'm good if we can pull this off a third year in a row.
Michigan's Passing Attack vs MSU's Pass Defense
Last year UM moved the ball on MSU until it got into the redzone and then D-Rob was more likely to complete a pass to us than he was to his own guys. This will be true again. D-Rob was such a good QB last year because Magee got D-Rob's receivers FILTHY open.
Denard is the best running back playing QB since Michael Vick. I seem to recall reading that MSU's defense has given up nine plays over 20 yards this season. Further, Denard has a real propensity for throwing moonballs, not manballs. So you have a strength of MSU's juxtaposed with a strong weakness of UM's. Denard is going to throw some picks, provided he throws at all.
Michigan's Rushing Attack vs MSU's Rush Defense
Denard is the rushing attack too. Frankly, Denard's the whole damned offense. MSU has shown itself prepared to stop a rushing QB in Braxton Miller, but honestly, he's like Diet Caffeine Free Denard. The YPC is up across the board for their running backs, but at the end of the day stop Denard, stop the Wolverines.
MSU has been stingy against the run this year allowing an average of 64 yards per game and 74.5 against OSU and ND. I do not realistically expect us to surrender only 64 rushing yards against Michigan, but I do think we could keep them under 150. We only gave up 35 rushing yards to OSU and I think we're adequately prepared to stop a rushing QB.
MSU's Passing Attack vs Michigan's Pass Defense
Michigan has the 39th ranked pass defense and has been real solid in the red zone. We've been moving the ball effectively, but kinda crappy in the redzone, 100th in the nation or worse. Mattison seems to run a high risk, high reward type defense with lots and lots of blitzing. So that makes this call a bit difficult. If Michigan can get the blitz home, MSU is in some trouble. If MSU can stop the blitz, Cousins could have a field day. Further complicating matters is that Cousins still has a brain fart when he's pressing. So, the key for MSU will be short, safe throws for 5-7 yards.
Advantage: Push. I think there are too many unknowns for me to call this with any confidence. Either side could massively outperform the other.
MSU's Rushing Attack vs Michigan's Rush Defense
The BBC backfield has struggled this year behind our woeful Offensive Line of Sorrow. I think the Woeful Offensive Line of Sorrow is turning into a Woeful Offensive Line of Patchworked Occasional Success. However, I don't see the OLine coming together enough over the bye week to turn the rushing attack into a scary juggernaut for this week's game.
Michigan's rush defense is ranked 58th, giving up 141.6 yards per game. Our Rushing Offense is ranked 79th. They're good in defending the red zone and we're not good at scoring in it so it'll be important if we're going to be good at rushing that it happens in their redzone. Bell will be a critical piece of this.
Advantage: UM. I think we have too many holes in our rushing game to be improved with a bye week.
So we had a bye week before this, which means we had time to drop some wrinkles in the playbook. With a bye week the week before we might come out a bit rusty. MSU has been outscored 49-20 in the first half of the two post bye week games under Dantonio. Still, we have saved some of our best for Michigan the past few years and with an extra week to cook things up, I expect some very interesting stunts and blitzes. Maybe a Keshawn package?
Michigan on the other hand, is playing with house money at this point. I don't think anyone expected Michigan to be 6-0 and in such resounding fashion at this point. So winning this game would be icing on the cake for them I think. State needs to jump out to a quick lead and keep it because UM is a second half team.
Advantage: UM, but slightly.
Overall: Earlier this week, I was a bit bearish on our chances this weekend, but it goes without saying that UM has not played a defense like ours yet. Further, they struggled in the early goings against every team they've played except Minnesota and SDSU. If MSU is going to win, it needs to come out early, get up big, and not get soft in the third and fourth quarters. If this were an away game, I'd worry about that a bit, but I think we'll be properly prepared and the rust will come off quick.I think the rushing game will surprise this week despite UM's perceived advantage in this arena. MSU's weaknesses seem slightly more likely to be overcome to me with the extra practice than UM's weaknesses.
Predicition: MSU 31 UM 28.
See, it's not the team I worry about with the little brother thing.
The team is coming off of three straight victories against a terrible, bad and so-so Michigan team respective to 2008, 2009 and 2010. Despite Jerel Worthy's choices in arm decoration, the focus of this team is to win the Big Ten again. Not beat Michigan above all other things. Michigan is an important stop en route, but this isn't 2007 with the most over-hyped countdown clock in the history of time, nor is it 2009 where we kept 2/3rds of our defensive playbook scuttled away while going 2-2 including a loss to Central so Tater could show up in EL and be completely lost. This game will be approached by our coaching staff with a little extra verve, but this is not Michigan State Football's Super Bowl anymore.
So I posted a twitter poll and a poll on spartanmag with the question, would you as an MSU fan rather Beat Michigan or Go to a Bowl Game? Results can be found on MLive here through twitter responder Patrick Walters or on the Underground Bunker here. So, I woke up in the morning and decided I asked the wrong question. The value of a bowl is variable, i.e. the Pizza Pizza Bowl != Rose Bowl. So I decided to re-ask the question as "Would you rather Beat Michigan or Play in the B1G Title Game?". This fixes the value of the game and provides a choice for the top agenda item of the team. As of the time of this writing it's currently 45 percent for Beating Michigan, 43 percent for playing for the Big Ten title and 8 percent voting for Perot. On MLive, it's 65% for Beat Michigan and 35 for win a bowl game. On SpartanMag it's 83 percent for Beat Michigan and 11 percent for Win a Bowl Game, with the remainder doing the Tenacious D "Can't Decide, Brain Aneurysm".
Even this question and sampling are a bit flawed. For starter's the two outcomes of the question are not mutually exclusive, rather a victory over Michigan likely will put the Winner in the catbird's seat to play in the B1G Title Game in 2011. Second, frankly this blog draws a lot less water than either MLive or Spartanmag.com. So our sample size is pretty small. However, I don't think that either of these points is enough to rob the question of it's validity. The question is: Is beating Michigan the number one priority of Michigan State football fans?
Rivalries are not about what happens on the field, they're about what happens with the fanbases, media and season outcomes off the field. Go back and look at the infamous MGoBlog Juggalo Post. The real complaining is about fans, not our team. Think about every Ohio State fan you've ever met. Every single one. They're all dickheads and probably wife beaters. My wife spent a few years in the marching band and they stopped going to Columbus because they kept getting hit with batteries. Michigan-OSU rose to prominence because the coaches hated each other and the winner won the Big 10 every year. None of that has to do with the actual game outside of the fact it provides the fodder on which the rivalry is based.
Beating Michigan is a critical piece of the puzzle particularly if Brady Hoke brings Michigan back. We'll be competing with them for the right to go to the Big Ten title game, but if we ever want to empirically prove we're no longer "Little Brother" as fans, the idea of putting ourselves in a position to win the Big Ten has to be the foremost goal of the program and the measuring stick of success for the fans each year.
If we lose Saturday, we're not again relegated to the role of little brother as fans or as a team for that matter. The team has a chance to still accomplish it's goal of winning the Big Ten. Bielema is a meathead and I think he'll lose in EL next weekend (I'm not backing down on this one for reasons I'll go into next week). The Huskers just lost Jared Crick for the season and are looking beatable. While MSU's schedule isn't favorable, it isn't impossible either. The fans get relegated to the role of little brother if we go to the Citrus Bowl, win and come home all Sad Panda about how we suck because we didn't beat Michigan.
This weekend, I hope we stomp all over Michigan, but it's mostly because I want us to be playing for the right to go to the Rose Bowl in December. That's my Super Bowl now. The MSU football team is no longer Little Brother. They've won three years in a row and have set their sights on the Rose Bowl and Michigan is a slightly larger than normal piece of that. After the results of several polls have come in to measure this question, can it be said that MSU fans have moved past little Brother status? I think not, but I didn't say it, you guys did.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
A Couple Qualifications
1.) Playing in the B1G title game doesn't mean winning the B1G title game.
2.) I know that beating Michigan is probably requisite to getting to the B1G title game, but that's not the purpose of this exercise.
3.) Results will be used in a future post.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
It's rivalry week and time to address our friends down the road. Much will be made of what this game means. Was Jesus just a prophet for Denard? Is Brady Hoke the long-awaited successor to Bo? Does Michigan State even have a chance against U of M? If MSU loses are we destined to become a second-rate doormat all over again? If we win is U of M on it's way to Richrodding it's way through the season again? I think this is all a bunch of knee-jerk crap honestly, so let's stick to some facts and maybe some mild opinion and go from there.
Fact: Michigan has outscored it's opponents in the second half 114-21.
If you are not winning at halftime, it's unlikely you will beat these Wolverines. A key to success for the good guys will be being up early and making Denard play from behind. Frankly, this statistic is just stunning. Outscoring your opponent 5-1 in the second half over six games is no fluke.
Fact: Michigan State has outscored it's opponents in the first half 89-27.
While this involves us being up 58-0 on FAU and Central respectively, I do think it points to us being more of a first half team. Interesting to note, at halftime we've blanked three of our opponents at the half. So again, better be up at the half or else.
Fact: Michigan and Michigan State have scoring defenses in the top 10 nationally.
Normally this would be extremely impressive, but the Big Ten has half the top 10 scoring defenses nationally, so it's only kind of impressive. The turnaround is more impressive in the case of Michigan who finished somewhere around 2,000,000th in total scoring defense last year.
Fact: Michigan has the leading rusher in the Big Ten at QB.
We haven't yet played a QB in this mold in 2011. We of course played Robinson last year and shut him down very nicely, but until he is stopped we cannot write him off as a threat. A key to the game will be limiting him to taking only a few yards here or there and making him throw the ball.
Fact: Michigan State Football has improved under Mark Dantonio.
I bring this one up in case we lose and fans start jumping off ledges. MSU is better than they've been since Biggie Munn and aren't you lucky because they've been pretty so-so for a long time? Mark Dantonio's current record is 37-20 and 21-12 in the Big Ten. In order for Mark Dantonio to have a winning percentage equivalent to Duffy Daughtery he'd need to lose his next three games. He'd have to lose five to be as good as St. Nick Saban. On Saturday, win or lose Michigan State football is improving under Dantonio.
Opinion(But Strongly Supported): The Winner of This Game will have the inside track on winning the Legends Division
Neither program rises or falls based off of this game, but I think the winner has the inside track on playing in the inaugural B1G title game. Nebraska is already down a game in the Big Ten season and is unlikely to beat both MSU and Michigan. Iowa looks to be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde this year. So it is my opinion that the loser does not become a second-tier program, but instead this might become a rivalry of who plays in the division title game.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
There a few things I've wanted to address while I've been gone, consistent themes in the general MSU fan pulse. The first is William Gholston while I bet Saturday will be the day Gholston stopped being little Willie Gholston and became William Gholston, Slayer of Slow, Inattentive or Sometimes Fast Quarterbacks, we still have a way to go. Gholston's bread and butter is to bull rush everyone to death so if you have a tackle who is good at dealing with the bull rush, he will also be successful at slowing down Gholston. So buy stock now, he'll be better later, but he took advantage of some folks who were not ready for his raw speed.
Second, I will agree to a few things. 1.) Kirk Cousins struggles at key times in road games. 2.) Cousins throws some pretty boneheaded interceptions at times. 3.) He crawls inside his own head resulting in a manic crapfest. However, Cousins has still got us in second place in total Big Ten passing statistics. Since we're currently ranked tenth in the Big Ten in total rushing, we NEED Kirk Cousins to take us places this season. For us to close on our dream of playing in December in the Big 10 title game, Cousins has got to shore it up a bit, but make no mistake if we get there, he'll be a large piece of the reason why.
Third, is Baker a better running back than Bell? I guess I'd start with this, I'm not sure it's important. We have and need both. Next, I think it depends on who you ask. A pro scout would say Baker. A college coach might say Baker or Bell. Baker has the complete physical package but in a year where the O-Line is down(btw GOOD JOB O-LINE on Saturday!) I think it's natural that he struggles. What Le'Veon's gift is that he has the best vision of any back in recent MSU memory. He's patient about using his blockers. If the hole for him is supposed to be between the LG and C and it's not there, he'll look other places. He reminds me a lot of what you loved about Caulcrick, great vision and difficult to tackle. On a side note, I thought Caulcrick ran just fine at 235 his freshman year, getting him up to 255 was a mistake IMO. Baker just doesn't seem to have this vision, he runs to where his hole is supposed to be and if it isn't there doesn't tend to look for another hole. So is Baker better than Bell? Baker is more physically gifted, but I think Bell will have more success in a year like this. Bonus: I think Baker will be back next year. Bonus 2: I'd rather have this debate than why do all of our Running Back's suck like going to the dentist.
Finally, The Incredible Disappearing Act of Keshawn Martin. This one seems pretty simple to me. Keshawn Martin is a slot receiver being asked to basically play as our second most reliable receiver. Martin's natural position is the slot and more importantly he needs to be our third most reliable receiver. He is as talented as any member of our offense, but he needs to be the guy they bring in for end arounds, QB passes, you know, Keshawn Martin circus stuff. Nichol caught a couple or three passes on Saturday, but I don't think he's gonna be the guy. We need Bennie Fowler back and then on top of that, we need him to be a reliable second receiver. Part two of that is that if they could work something out with Nichol and Sims where they share the role of Y receiver, somehow. Anyway, the environment that would help Martin thrive is the one where he's the icing on the cake instead of part of the cake. Hopefully we can get someone else to be the cake in the next week or two.
Anyway, that's it for now. Be back next week for the gnashing of teeth over the Skunkbears.