Capital One Bowl Scouting Report and Prediction

Hondo S. Carpenter

Capital One Bowl Scouting Report and Prediction

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I am sitting in my hotel room here in Orlando pondering how to write this and what to write. This game is unique and special for so many reasons. Mark Dantonio and his staff have done nothing less than a miracle coaching these kids, and they (the kids) deserve so much credit for buying in.

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The Spartans have over achieved at 9-3. There is no way to get around that. In fact I predicted 8-4 to start the season and figured in some over achieving to get there. There is an old adage that you are what your record says you are. I agree with that, I guess, but this team is not a 9-3 team. They have over achieved.

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I must confess that I am worried, that Mark Dantonio has won to quick and that the Spartan Nation will become unrealistic. The cupboard was raw when Mark got here. There were some good kids, but this team was lacking in a lot of depth and talent. This team is very young and don’t email me with how many have played, they still are far from deep. He inherited some kids with big hearts, but very few great athletes. They deserve all the credit for following their hearts and coaches to a 9-3 record. They also are playing against kids who are equally high character and equally have big hearts and have more talent.

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If you look at Georgia, they are where MSU will be in year eight of the Mark Dantonio regime. I was talking with Mark Richt today and he told me something that made my jaw drop, they have lost 22 actual players with season ending injuries. This team has talent and speed at every position. Football is about injuries, and 9-3 is no bad season by anyone’s standards, but without the injuries this team could be 11-1. They are exceptionally well coached and they have all the players.

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MSU is rebuilding. Because of the superb job of the coaching staff, the fan base has sipped the taste of success. They have seen a small look at what is ahead. I am worried, that they think we have arrived. Let me be blunt and NO ONE can discount my love of the Spartans and my utmost respect for the team and my friend Mark Dantonio: We Have NOT!

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We are on the road. We also have a lot of adversity ahead of us. I want to see the Spartans compete. I want to see them show up, and represent. These kids will do that. I have gotten so much email about the PSU and OSU games and I have to just laugh. You saw with those games where MSU was headed (just like Georgia) and people’s angst was unsettling to me.

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No one likes to lose. The kids on this team are some of the most competitive and great kids that I have ever met or seen at MSU in my lifetime of being around the program, but you can’t make people into what they aren’t. The future of this program is bright. I wouldn’t trade our staff for anyone. We are on the road. There will be no reason to hang our head after tomorrow win or lose.

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Spartans on Defense

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The Bulldogs run an offense similar to MSU with much more talent to run it with. They have the dual 1000+ yard receivers and a big back. The only difference would be that MD prefers a dual RB scenario. Something we obviously didn’t have this season.

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MSU has a very young DB crew and the Spartans will need them. They won’t be able to gamble a lot and blitz, but they also have to load the box and stop the run. The Georgia OL is loaded and I have great concern about the Spartans ability to get pressure on Stafford without blitzing. If they can get pressure and stop the run without blitzes they are in the game. I don’t see it. I have watched ALL 12 Georgia games at least once and all of the Spartan games both in person and many times on tape.

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Spartans on Offense

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The Spartans wide receivers have had a terrible season. Some are young and growing, some lack toughness and need to reassess if they have they heart (not questioning talent) to play at a Big Ten school, and both groups have yet to show that they can catch the ball with regularity. The only exception in this group is Blair White. He in my opinion is the unsung MVP of this team. I can think of two games MSU WOULD NOT HAVE WON without him.  If you had 22 guys with his heart and toughness you could win a national title. The young receivers need to look at him as a role model.

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In talking with Georgia players and coaches they want to force Hoyer to beat them. I said to a coach today, “You say Hoyer, but that isn’t accurate. You want to force his receivers to beat you. To which he smiled and agreed. The Spartans are averaging over four (4) dropped passes per game this season and with the Bulldogs loading the box against Ringer it all rests on the WR’s.

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I simply haven’t seen enough from our WR’s to expect them to step up in a huge game and perform. I hope I am wrong. I highly doubt it.

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Special Teams

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Both coaches put a huge emphasis on this part of the game, as do all great coaches. I wouldn’t trade Swenson or Bates, but there are ten other guys and Georgia has such a huge talent edge that you have to give the Dawgs the advantage. Spartan fans need not worry, as you watch Georgia, that is the direction that Mark Dantonio is building.

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Coaches

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Long time readers of Spartan Nation know that Mark Richt has always been one of my favorite coaches. On and off the field he is an exceptional coach and person. My two favorite coaches will be on the field and although Richt’s program is built, I give no edge to him. MD is among the finest in the land and although he won’t have the talent on the Spartan sidelines that Richt does, that doesn’t make him any less of a Coach. No edge here!

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Prediction

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The Spartans will play tough. They won’t quit, but in the end the Dawgs have way too much talent and depth all over the field and they win 31-24. The Spartans may lose, but the Spartan Nation has so much to be proud of and excited for.

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