While Central Michigan ranks at the bottom of the NCAA in total offense, 128th with 285.7 yards per contest, the Spartans remain focused on slowing down a Chippewa offense that defensive linemen Raequan Williams and Mike Panasiuk describe as one built on misdirection and confusion.
“Just all of the misdirection and the confusion they can cause to the defense,” Williams told Spartan Nation. “That’s what stood out to me, a lot of misdirection and you have to stick to your fundamentals to beat these guys.”
Panasiuk added that the key for the Spartans on Saturday afternoon at Spartan Stadium is simply to focusing on their own individual keys, assignments and not trying to do too much when facing that Chippewa offense.
“Going off of what Rae said, the same thing he said, they’re a pulling, coming down kind of team in the run game,” he said. “We just have to stick to our gaps, be on our man and hopefully, that will do the job.”
Since surrendering 31 points to Utah State in the season opener, the Spartan defense has been much more stingy about keeping opponents out of the end zone and off the scoreboard as Michigan State has allowed just 37 points in each of its last two games.
After watching film on Central Michigan, junior captain and middle linebacker Joe Bachie said that the interior of the Spartan defense will be a big key to Michigan State’s success on Saturday.
“They spread us out, they’re going to try and make the inside guys make some plays, which I feel confident about our interior guys, like our D-line,” he said. “They’re going to have our number sometimes, but it’s going to be up to us to take on more than one person on a pull or something to take out some people. Be disruptive and I think we’ll be fine with that.”
It’s been well documented that the Michigan State defense has been stout against the run this season, ranking No. 1 in the country in yards allowed per game, just 32.7 per contest, and the Spartans will be asked to slow down another quality opposing running back in Central Michigan’s Jonathan Ward, who totaled nearly 1,500 yards from scrimmage a season ago.
Panasiuk told Spartan Nation that each week, stopping the run is a focal part of the game plan and that will be the case once again this weekend against the Chippewas.
“Going into every week and every opponent that we go into, Coach D, Coach Tressel, Coach Burton, all of the defensive coaches are emphasizing stop the run,” he said. “I feel like we’ve been doing a great job of that up front and we’re just going to continue to do that.”
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