Kevin Thomas with Another Guest Take
FRUSTRATION IN ORLANDO
Okay what happened?Â Not what was supposed to happen, thatâ€™s for sure. Itâ€™s was a game Boston College didnâ€™t want to play in and even then their fans didnâ€™t show up for. So the Spartans should have had all the momentum on their side, but once again, played down to the level of the opponentâ€¦ or couldnâ€™t handle prosperity, whichever you prefer.
There are clear problems on this team that need to be corrected, lest 2008 becomes another year barely over the .500 winning mark. First, Brian Hoyer will be the Quarterback next year barring injury. His quarterback rating was quite high until this game when five turnovers were committed. Yet things need to change for the Spartan offense and Hoyer.
So what happened to Brian? Two things in my opinion. I believe this match up with Matt Ryan made Brian believe this was more the battle of the quarterbacks instead of BC versus MSU. He forced several passes, stared down several receivers, and tried to fit throws into tight spots like Ryan is accustomed to. Brian just needs to do his job and let people around him do their jobs.
Secondly, the passing offense and/or scheme, especially in the red zone, needs to be revamped and thatâ€™s something I have mentioned all year. Hoyer needed to perfect all year to complete passes as there is little separation from the receivers. For instance, that interception in the end zone when the Spartans had a 7-0 lead should have been taken out of the Spartan playbook long ago. It hasnâ€™t worked all year since it is drawn up not to account for the safety moving over and jumping in front of the receiver. Another receiver needs to be moving up the center of the field to keep the safety occupied. On the last interception of the evening, there were two receivers in the same vicinity as well. I appreciate the Spartan coaches coming up with the hybrid Darren McFadden/Jerramy Scott direct snap to the running back type plays. However, better time would have been spent tweaking the pass offense.
MSU also did a poor job of handling momentum this year as well. You donâ€™t want to fumble on the 12-yard line with a 7-0 lead. You simply cannot beat yourself over and over and thatâ€™s what the Spartans have done all year. With a lead the Spartans need to put the pedal to the metal and they have been unable to do that. Interestingly, they also have had trouble making big plays in the last two minutes of both halves throughout the season for the most part. Therefore, I believe a key component over winter conditioning will be moving this team in the right direction mentally. What do I mean by that? Right now the Spartans are hoping to win and not expecting to win, and they have to start expecting to win and have some swagger, the same swagger the basketball team normally has.
Letâ€™s face it the suspensions also hurt MSU. They needed the pass rushing ability of Jonal St Dic, the big play ability of Sir Darean Adams, and especially, the punt returning ability of Terry Loveâ€”or at least his ability to clearly catch the ball and give the team decent field position. I think this also showed us that Devin Thomas should come back to school. He is a talented player, but as a return man his stock just took a slight nose dive by two punt return gaffes. NFL scouts are not kind. They could care less that Thomas had little experience returning punts this year. They want to see how he would step up in the spotlight and get it done regardless of the circumstances.
Coach Dantonio and his staff are also going to face the inevitable comparisons to the previous MSU staff that kept players academically eligible even though the secondary collapsed, and to Brian Kelly, with his penchant for winning big games and getting double digits in victories on a regular basis. It will be up to Dantonio to prove that he is more than 7-5 type coach in his career and he will get every opportunity to do that at MSU.
As far as positives this year? There were many. I believe MSU is back to the physical play that wins games. They can run the football, stop the run, and never quit all year. In a normal season, you can win a lot of games doing those things. In fact, outside of the Ohio State game, I really thought MSU outplayed all their opponents this year, yet with the sad reality and reminder of what could have been had they gotten the breaks to go their way. You just have to learn to win and that is what MSU has to do.
Kalin Lucas has to give all Spartans hope for this season and the ensuing March Madness, with the reason being is that the NCAA Tournament is set up, as Jud used to say, as a guard-oriented tournament.
Magic Johnson and Mateen Cleaves showed us what you could do with a point guard that could take the ball coast to coast and finish at the rack. In recent years, MSU hasnâ€™t had a guard who takes it all the way and finishes with and consistency at the hole, and they would have to pull it out and set up in the half-court offense. Not so with Lucas, who can put
tremendous pressure on the defense with his quickness, can kick it back out to set up teammates, or shoot it from the outside. Down the stretch, and especially in post season play, he could prove to be more valuable than either Drew Neitzel or Raymar Morgan.
Spartan great Scott Skiles was recently fired by the Chicago Bulls. It is hard to believe the Bulls will be any better without a legitimate post threat down low no matter who the coach is. However, now that Skiles has some free time on his hands, the one guy who should be worried will be former Wolverine Antoine Joubert, who likely will be challenged to a game of one on one. LOL
Peace and Go Spartans!
***REMEMBER THAT NOT ALL OPINIONS ARE HONDO'S!Â LOL***