The fans were not happy with the Michigan State Spartansâ€™ performance against Eastern Michigan on Saturday.Â The boos that came down from the stands in the first half told that story.
The coaches werenâ€™t happy with the performance of the Michigan State Spartans against Eastern Michigan on Saturday.Â Dantonioâ€™s post-game press conference was less than three minutes and his anger was boiling over.Â He answered my question about teams loading the box and forcing the Spartans to win with their anemic passing game by saying, â€œPlayers make plays. Plays don't make players. Players make plays.â€Â He went to add in that same answer, "You have to catch the ball. Throwing and catching. If there's nothing wrong with the route and the ball is there you have to catch it. I hate to lay it out there like that but that's just the way it is. I don't have a lot of time in front of the cameras today and that's the way it is. Why skip around? Just tell it the way it is."
Dan Roushar the offensive coordinator stated it this way, "We are all in this together. It doesn't fall just on our players. We have to do a better job and they have to execute and play at a higher level. That is how we have won eleven games the last couple years. We made those plays. We haven't made them the last two weeks. That is a big concern. It is a big question mark. But there is more than one way as a competitor to come back and get that fixed. That is go back to work and work harder. We also need to execute better, have confidence in what we are doing, and execute the fundamentals. We are not doing that right now. I don't know if it was seven or eight drops in the first half, but that's not going to help us win any games around here."
The players werenâ€™t happy with the Michigan State Spartansâ€™ performance against Eastern Michigan on Saturday.Â S Kurtis Drummond said, â€œThey (fans) have a right to boo,â€ and star MLB Max Bullough said of the boos, "Maybe we deserved it."
You get the point.Â If you are reading this, the chances are good you watched it.Â An EMU team enters Spartan Stadium with no wins (0-3) and frankly not in the Spartans league and came out swinging.Â They should have been called bulldogs.Â MSU laid an egg.
After such a poor performance against Notre Dame this was not expected.Â An inferior opponent, the Spartans on edge, this had all the Hollywood setting for a box office bonanza and instead it was a flop.
LeVeon Bell showed why I think he is the best RB in the nation.Â When no one on offense could do anything (not named Dion Sims) he ran 36 times for 253 yards.Â He was a stud.
As usual the MSU defense was good. If you only looked at the scoreboard and read my previous statement, you would ask how does the 116th ranked team score. Â In the second quarter the Spartans had a second and five at their own 29.Â Maxwell completed a pass to Bennie Fowler who then promptly fumbled.Â EMU recovered at the MSU 28 and from there they scored a TD.Â I donâ€™t care how bad the team you are playing is, or how good your D is, when a division one team gets the ball at the 28 they will score and EMU did.
Narduzziâ€™s defense held EMU to 183 total yards in offense.Â They were very good.Â Narduzzi was still not happy.Â His crew has to carry this team right now and he summed up his thoughts as usual very well.Â He said, "We focus on our job. I have one job - to call the defense. Our players have one job - to stop the pass. I told the guys before the game if they don't score we win, it doesn't matter. So they shouldn't score and we will win. It doesn't matter."
Give credit to EMU.Â They took a page right out of Alabama, Boise, CMU, and of course the Notre Dame playbook.Â They stacked the box; at times putting nine guys up front.Â Teams not are daring the MSU passing attack to beat them.Â Itâ€™s plain and itâ€™s simple.
Dion Sims, again, had an amazing game.Â He had six catches for 112 yards and one TD.Â He was a dominant force, but there was nothing else.Â Four other players caught balls, but no one looked good.
Spartan QB Andrew Maxwell didnâ€™t point fingers, but said bluntly, â€œWe're just missing opportunities, when plays are there to be made (etc.). Who's (at) fault is irrelevant; we're just not making the plays and that's something that we need to do."
Bennie Fowler said about the W group after the game, "We get better every game; we get more experience every game. I think we have a great amount of experience now, playing these four games. We've played two big night games in Boise and Notre Dame so this Ohio State test will be another great test for us. We should make big improvements on every big game."
I disagree with one thing with his comments, they are not getting better.
Dan Roushar all but admitted it.Â In the second half his focus was on the guys that could make plays.Â The Spartans rode LeVeon Bell and Dion Sims.Â As we head into the Big Ten schedule, teams can load the box and take away Sims, so what do the Spartans do next?
This performance the WR group was horrendous.Â I trust Roushar to fix this.Â He is taking heat from people for play calling, but would you rather have him call many diverse plays and lose to EMU?Â Is it his fault Fowler dropped another touchdown pass that his play calling got them the opportunity to score?Â Is it his fault when Fowler fumbled?
I like Fowler.Â This isnâ€™t personal, but how many more drops, and mistakes until they have to move on?Â Something has to give.Â We are heading into Big Ten play and the WR group is the only part of this team that has more questions than answers.
People can fault Roushar all they want, but he does not make plays.Â He is NOT the problem.Â He has to fix it, but it isnâ€™t him.Â I have told readers, listeners, and followers this story many times, but it is germane to tell it again here.Â I once was sitting with Bobby Bowden, the hall of fame coach for Florida State.Â I asked him about coaches.Â How do you judge them and he told me this.Â â€œWhen you see a player in the right spot to make a play and he doesnâ€™t, how can that be on a coach?Â If you see the right scheme and they donâ€™t execute it, how can that be on a coach?Â Coaches have to prepare guys to make the plays and teach them the technique, but then it is on them players.â€
You saw dropped passed from open guys.Â Not Roushar.Â You saw a fumble.Â Not on Roushar.Â Now, he does control the playing group.Â That is on him.Â I will be stunned if that doesnâ€™t change next week.Â I laugh at people who want to fire him, remember how everyone hated Narduzzi for three years?Â Thought he was incompetent?Â How about Treadwell?Â People even clamored for Cousins to get thrown out.Â IN our instant gratification society we look for scapegoats, but those arenâ€™t always real.
I cover this program 365 days a year.Â I have made it clear when I think the staff has failed.Â I have not hesitated to call out coaches or say it was time for someone to go.Â I will not follow the path of least resistance and just saw fire Roushar to make the masses happy.Â He is a quality coach and man and he will fix this.
The offensive line struggled when EMU put seven, eight, and nine men in the box and here is a memo:Â All teams would.Â It isnâ€™t their fault that in a quick read situation with pressure coming Maxwell has to look at a group of WR who are simply not performing.
Can they play better?Â Without a doubt, but when your RB runs for 253 yards you canâ€™t tell me they were bad.Â Maxwell is fine.Â He will be the leader and say what he has to say, but he wonâ€™t tell you the truth.Â He wonâ€™t step to the podium and say that he has no confidence in his WR group.Â He wonâ€™t say it, but Roushar did.Â When it came to money time they stuck with Bell and Dion Sims.
Some say Maxwell wasnâ€™t going to his second, third or fourth read.Â Some are saying that he wasnâ€™t looking downfield.Â We when you have five men blocking and seven or eight and even nine coming at you, the time isnâ€™t there.Â Not to mention player who run wrong routes.
This team right now is a WR group away from being 4-0 and inside the top ten.Â B.J. Cunningham, Blair White, Keshawn Martin, and Keith Nichol are not coming back, but the staff that developed each of them is.Â With so much promise on this season it all rests on the wide receiver group.Â It is frustrating and it is mental anguish to watch.Â We get it.
Everyone on this team can get better, but until that group makes leaps and bounds the Spartans will not.
A few weeks ago in my weekly question and answer article prior to the Notre Dame game I said that the next two weeks were the most critical of the year.Â I was told that I misspoke and I meant Notre Dame and Ohio State and most assumed I was wrong by including Eastern in that.
I am a big boy.Â I do not write anonymously.Â I say what I mean and mean what I say.Â I meant those two weeks.Â I knew that Notre Dame would expose some things and I wanted to see our development against a weaker opponent heading into the Big Ten.
I have seen it.Â Next week will be the turning point of the season.Â Ohio State is NOT as good as their record.Â They are coming to East Lansing.Â Michigan State is a good team with a glaring weakness at WR that is exposed.Â We find out next week if the Spartans are as good as we thought they were.Â Simple as that.
The Spartans that played last night will lose to OSU.Â It will be close, but it will be a loss.Â If they fix the WR group they will win.Â Simple as that.Â The OSU game plan will be simple.Â They will load the box.Â They willâ€¦.well you know.Â The same thing Alabama, Notre Dame, CMU, and EMU have done.
Every coach and player on this team can get better.Â We donâ€™t need the WR group to get better, they have to reinvent themselves.Â The season rides on them.Â MSU can get to a bowl playing with Bell and Sims and this defense, but this isnâ€™t about just getting to a bowl anymore.Â All of their goals are still viable and they donâ€™t need any help, but from themselves.