Michigan State vs. Michigan Wolverines Scouting Report and Prediction

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Michigan State vs. Michigan Wolverines Scouting Report and Prediction

 A look at this week’s opponent…

The Spartan Nation has had fun poking fun at the Wolverines for the last year. That is all good, but they are back on track and they are talented. They are led by a true freshman QB Tate Forcier, and he is as talented as they come.


Before Spartan fans rip the young man, they need to watch him play, and whether or not you’re a Wolverine fan, he is a talented football player. He has tremendous vision and poise and is doing a great job staying within the M Rod system. The system that M Rod runs is very concise in that he is extremely detailed on what he wants his guys to do.


If you were to just watch you would think the UM offensive scheme is a free for all, but in all actuality, it is far from it.



When MSU has the ball…

The Spartans have one of the best aerial attacks and they are facing one of the worst aerial defenses. As much as the Spartan fan base would love to see the Spartans scrap what they are and go to the air all day, the Spartans can’t win that way. They have to win the time of possession stat and not by a few seconds.


The Wolverine defense has looked terrible this season, and if the Spartans can actually get the run game going, they WILL win. The Spartans look to be in good shape on the OL and while a normal fan may follow the ball, watch the OL this week. If the Spartans own the point of attack, start the celebration.


This certainly doesn’t mean that the offense won’t pass. It just means that they will pick and choose. I know for a fact that OC Don Treadwell wants to get more variety going with his receivers, and if the TE has a big day for MSU, that will say a lot.


Look for the Wolverines to get a full frontal dose of Glenn Winston and Larry Caper as they have distinguished themselves from the pack at RB, and with Winston’s punishing style, this could get bloody and messy.


If the Spartans fail to control the line and run, they will lose. However, I do expect them to control the line and the longer they keep the ball, the less chance the real deal Forcier has to hurt them.


When MSU is on defense…



The Spartan’s defense has been shoddy at best this season. The more film I watch I can see that there are some blitzes that maybe shouldn’t have been called when the Spartans proved they couldn’t get to the QB, but the defensive coaches have had the right schemes called in most cases.


Again, I wouldn’t run CBs off the ball seven or eight yards as they do occasionally, but again, the biggest problem with the defense has been execution. Guys are not stepping up and making plays. 


I want to add one major caveat here. These guys are not quitting. They are making mistakes. Guys with experience haven’t shown a lot of improvement in some cases, and some guys are young and learning. The encouraging thing for Spartan fans should be that that the D is playing hard. Their “no quit” attitude should make you hopeful.


The Spartans have to make the initial tackle. The UM offense is predicated on YAC (yards after the catch) and the Spartans have been horrendous this season when someone other than Greg Jones makes initial contact.


Guys can’t go for the Sportscenter hit. Just wrap up and make the initial tackle. 




The Wolverines have been impressive. There is also a learning curve for any true freshman. This will be a first road test in a VERY HOSTILE environment for the youngster. 


He is also facing a mad and ornery Spartan team that has been most impressive with the “no quit” attitude and a tremendous week of practice. Those two key components and a defense that is more finesse than physical and is struggling set this up perfect for MSU.


Remember the rule of five. If MSU wins that, this game is over. For those who don’t remember it, it has to do with sacks and turnovers. If the Spartans have three sacks and gives up two that means they are plus one. If they then get four turnovers and give up only one that means they are plus three. That would give them a plus four for the day. They want to get to a plus five ratio at least every game.




I have never hid my respect and like for M Rod. I think he is super coach and a good man. I also think that he has done a great job transitioning this program from a pro style to a spread bone attack. He took a beating for making the transition in one move last year, but he has proven it to be the right thing.


UM football is very dangerous with him at the helm and I am thrilled to see this becoming a major rivalry. Long time readers of Spartan Nation know that at one point I had predicted 14 games right in a row. I am in no way afraid to pick against MSU if I think it will go that way.


The Spartans are mad, they are embarrassed, and they are working harder than ever. In fact, when you watch the film you can see them almost at times pressing or trying too hard. This has not been a typical MSU vs. UM week. The Spartans, when asked, have expressed their dislike for UM, but they have been all business.


They are coming out looking for a physical bruising street fight. UM has pride too, but I don’t think they are ready to deal on both sides with the physicality of what the Spartans bring. A UM win wouldn’t shock me since the Spartan D hasn’t stopped any real opponent, but I simply don’t see it.


If the Spartans lose Saturday I think there are real prospects of not making a bowl. That would be devastating to this program. This is the biggest game of Mark Dantonio’s head coaching career, and I fully expect that kind of effort from a great group of kids and staff.


MSU rights the ship and officially reinstates the rivalry. MSU 31 UM 28