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First Half Analysis: More of the same from MSU defense, but Spartan offense keeping them close

The Spartans are in a battle with Maryland in their second Big Ten game...

Michigan State traveled to Maryland today looking to bounce back after back-to-back losses to Washington and Minnesota.

Here's what stood out about the 

Michigan State Offense

  • Elijah Collins was entered into the game on Michigan State's first possession after the Spartans worked their way down into the red zone. The redshirt junior took advantage of his opportunity with two carries for 20 yards and a touchdown to put MSU on the board. It was a nice half for Collins, who finished with 28 yards on just three carries. Given the way he's running the football, I'd like to see him get more opportunities over Jalen Berger or Jarek Broussard.
  • Payton Thorne has bounced back nicely from a terrible outing last week against Minnesota. The redshirt junior completed 20-of-24 pass attempts for 180 yards and a touchdown. His favorite target was Jayden Reed, who had five catches for 50 yards and a score. This more of what we expected out of this tandem when the season began, and if Thorne can bottle this performance and carry it forward, that would be a huge step in the right direction for Michigan State.
  • Offensive coordinator Jay Johnson has been a little more pass-heavy in his play-calling so far today. The Spartans have thrown the ball 24 times against just 12 runs. With Thorne playing well, it's allowed Michigan State to utilize its best offensive weapons — it's pass catchers. The Spartans are doing enough in the run game to keep Maryland's defense honest though, as they are averaging 5.5 yards per carry.

Michigan State Defense

  • For the third game in a row, the Spartans allowed a touchdown on their opponent's first drive of the game. Maryland started the drive at its own seven yard line due to a holding penalty on the opening kickoff, but it didn't matter. The Terrapins converted two 3rd-and-longs with pass plays of over 20 yards, and capped off a 12-play, 93 yard drive with a 15-yard run for Antwain Littleton II. That wasn't the start that defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton needed, but unfortunately this is what we've come to expect at this point.
  • After surrendering touchdowns on each of their first two possessions, the Spartans' defense stiffened on their next two trips on to the field and forced back-to-back three and outs. It was just a small victory, but this defense needs all the wins it can get right now.
  • As expected, Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa feasted on MSU's secondary through the first half. Tagovailoa threw for 216 yards while completing 21-of-26 pass attempts and a touchdown in the first half. We knew the Spartans were going to struggle to slow this passing attack, but that doesn't make it any easier to watch.
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Michigan State Special Teams

Michigan State's kicking game was terrible in the first half.

First, Auburn grad transfer Ben Patton was called on for a 34-yard field goal attempt, but missed it wide right to keep Michigan State trailing 14-7 after a nice drive by the Spartans.

Then, after MSU's second touchdown, a bad snap on the extra point kept the Spartans from tying the game at the time.

Finally, Michigan State ended the half with a 45-yard field goal attempt, this time from true freshman Jack Stone. The kick was blocked, and the Spartans were fortunate that tight end Tyler Hunt recovered the block, or it could have returned for points by the Terrapins.

These are the things that continue to plague this MSU football team, and the Spartans might have a hard time overcoming these miscues.