A Look Ahead to MSU vs. Northwestern Through Green Lenses!

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John Elway had the “Drive”. Now it is time for the Spartans to have the “Stretch.” The next

three games in particular will tell us where this football team is at. Up first is Northwestern, a team that has figured out a way to score 49, 38, and 48 points respectively the last three meetings against MSU. The Spartans will have to do better or say goodbye to their Big Ten hopes and dreams.

  

Interestingly enough, the Wildcats have added a stingy defense, (especially against the run) to their potent attack. Plus, with this game being on the road, the Spartans should have all they want to handle in this game. Throw in some defensive injuries and this game becomes a difficult challenge for MSU.

  

How can they win? They need a repeated offensive effort like they had against Indiana a year ago in which they dominated the game and time of possession. This would keep the Wildcat offense off the field and help heal the ailing defensive Spartans. This means a balanced offense that keeps Northwestern on its heels.

  

The key to the rest of the season will be the proverbial one game at a time and one play at a time, lest hey find themselves on the outside looking in. NU QB CJ Bacher has a diametrically opposed record when he is being hounded, punished and sacked as opposed to when he is left free-wheeling to do his thing. Al Davis used to say the opposing QB must go down early and he must go down hard. That is certainly the case with Northwestern and their skill players. They must be punished in this game for MSU to win, and the Spartans cannot give up easy plays. No easy scores for the bad guys after the MSU offense puts points on the board, which has happened quite a bit around here. This will be a major test for Narduzzi. NU is going to have to earn their points and MSU is going to have to force some turnovers and make plays. MSU was content with allowing the Wildcats to play pitch and catch a year ago and making the tackle in front of them and it turned out to be a disaster as the defense wore down.

  

Also, let me say this, MSU has to do a better job in a lot of areas the rest of the way. I know Dantonio thinks this is a special group and certainly things have changed. They are getting stops in the red zone, and are winning games at the end now instead of folding. This team is

mentally and physically tough. Now it is the attention to detail that can put this team over the top.

  

What other areas need improvement? First, the MSU offense needs to do a better job of scoring touchdowns in the red zone and not just kicking field goals. Coach Warner, Treadwell, and even Enos are going to have to get a little more creative with plays in the red zone. Certainly the misdirection passing play to Gantt for a touchdown versus Iowa was a start, but they’ll need more than that. Receivers need to hold onto passes, Hoyer needs to make the plays that open up for him, and while MSU is kicking the ball well, there have been some near breaks on kick and punt coverage and guys need to stay in their lanes.

  

  

MSU needs to put the pedal to the metal and start separating themselves from the competition, and the only way that is going to happen is to stop patting themselves on the back for the Iowa game and get back to work, since focusing on the task at hand is the one thing that keep the Spartans dreams alive and well.

  

A good coach will realize that there is something special about this group of Spartans, but a great coach will do the little things and make the adjustments to make sure they get here.

Hold on to your hats Spartan fans, things are about to get interesting.

 

  

  

  

  

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