Now that the season is over, it’s a good time to look back at predictions from this previous off-season.
Michigan State was riding high this summer after an 11-win season, including bowl and rivalry game victories, along with major strides in recruiting. Now, after a 5-7 season in 2022, much of that momentum has been stalled.
Here’s a look back at predictions from July…
1.) MSU will have two players with 750 receiving yards, and four total over 500
If Jayden Reed hadn’t struggled with injuries, he may have gone over 750 yards. But even then, there was one player with 750 yards and two over 500. Keon Coleman led all receivers with 798 yards, followed by Reed with 636. The third leading receiver was Tre Mosley with 359, which was a significant drop off.
The Spartans had the weapons, with seven players over 100 yards receiving and seven with a receiving touchdown. What it came down to was quarterback Payton Thorne, which segways to my next bold prediction…
2.) Payton Thorne will break MSU’s passing touchdown record again
Thorne threw for 19 touchdowns this season, eight short of the season record he set a year ago. The redshirt junior had help from his receivers, as many of those passes could’ve been interceptions or incompletions. Thorne struggled with accuracy after his injury, and threw 11 interceptions as well.
Thorne seemed to have trouble processing what he was seeing from defenses, which led to interceptions, sacks and broken plays. It stunted the Spartans’ offense, which ranked ninth total offense in the Big Ten. Of course, without Kenneth Walker III it was improbable the rushing offense was going to repeat the production it enjoyed in 2021. It was assumed that Thorne would improve enough to help Michigan State win games even without a dynamic rusher, but the offense ended up taking a step back for various reasons.
3.) Spencer Brown will solidify himself as the starting right tackle
Brown ended up having a decent season, and was the starting right tackle all year for the Spartans. But, the unit as a whole didn’t meet expectations. The Spartans’ O-line may have only allowed 18 sacks this year, but the running game was well below average. Michigan State only rushed for 113 yards per game, which was 112th in the country.
Now, of course, that isn’t Brown’s fault. But before the season it was thought Brown was the last piece to complete the line, and that proved not to be the case. Next season will be very telling for offensive line coach Chris Kapalovic and his development of the offensive line.
4.) Khris Bogle will lead the team in sacks this season
Bogle only played four games and had just one sack before he went down with a season-ending injury. Bogle rotated among many pass rushers to start the year, and it was Jacoby Windmon who would ultimately lead Michigan State in sacks this season. The Bogles prediction was a long shot to begin with, and his injury erased any chance that he’d be the team’s sack leader. Bogle will look to get healthy this offseason and be primed to potentially be a starter next year.
5.) Mel Tucker will be 3-0 against Michigan
Somehow, this may have been the boldest take of all of them. After Michigan State lost to Minnesota, it was apparent Michigan was clearly a better team than the Spartans. The Wolverines wound up going undefeated, but it was pretty clear early on that this MSU team would have their hands full with their in-state rival. Michigan ended up besting Michigan State, 29-7, in Ann Arbor.
The Spartans competed for a half against the Wolverines, but couldn’t consistently move the ball on offense. That was a theme all year, and it wasted arguably the defense’s best performance all season in that game. Michigan was the more talented team, and beat the Spartans physically throughout the whole second half. U-M star running back Blake Corum ran for 177 yards and a touchdown.
An underwhelming 2022 season left expectations and predictions falling short for Michigan State. While I’m not surprised that not all of these predictions were correct, I was surprised that many of them weren’t close. This has already tempered expectations for the Spartans next season, as they look to improve after going 5-7.