Scouting Report and Prediction: Michigan State 4-5 vs. #14 Michigan 7-2
A look at this week's opponent…
Mark Dantonio said of the week, “It's Michigan week this week. Have to put that behind us and move forward. Got to have one focus as we move. We played well down there in the past. They have an outstanding program.”
The Spartans can’t save their season. The staff ruined that. But they can at least do something to take the edge off of the pain. Now don’t get your hopes up. Michigan is trending up while the Spartans are spiraling down. This game has all the signs of a bad day.
When MSU has the ball…
The MSU offense stinks. Great kids and I believe in the players. The coaches are fine men, fathers, and husbands. But this offense is not worthy of being teamed with this defense. It is embarrassing. How bad?
The Spartans are the 12th ranked scoring offense out of the 14 Big Ten Teams.
The Spartans are the 13th ranked rushing offense out of the 14 Big Ten Teams.
The Spartans are the 7th ranked passing offense out of the 14 Big Ten Teams.
The Spartans are the 10th ranked total offense out of the 14 Big Ten Teams.
Dantonio said of the Wolverine defense, “I think when you look at them right now, you look at their defense, probably a Top 15 defense. Do a great job, what I call running the sled, getting their feet, being disruptive and getting their feet into people and running people back, so we have to be able to pass protect”
Speaking of the MSU offense, the Spartans head coach added, “We ran the ball effectively. Elijah gets 170 yards net, that's a big positive. That's some explosive plays. Lewerke had almost 150 yards rushing, 250 passing. Had some tipped balls that went the other direction, but a couple may be dropped and then we had the one with the pi that was a little bit concerning that it was called. But there's another 50-yard gain taken away.”
He continued saying, “I think the thing you have to look forward, you have to take from a positive perspective in the Illinois game is, hey, we were productive and we had opportunities and we moved the football. The things that happened were from a negative perspective, where either they are making a good play or us, you know -- so they are hitting themselves in the foot.”
He concluded with, “I think you draw the positives from it that you can and you try to fall forward in everything that we're doing.”
The Wolverine defense is aggressive. If the Spartans are going to have success, they can’t abandon the run, but it will happen via the pass.
When MSU is on defense…
The Spartans are struggling on defense as well. The stats don’t lie:
The Spartans are the 8th ranked scoring defense out of the 14 Big Ten Teams.
The Spartans are the 4th ranked rushing defense out of the 14 Big Ten Teams.
The Spartans are the 9th ranked passing defense out of the 14 Big Ten Teams.
The Spartans are the 8th ranked total defense out of the 14 Big Ten Teams.
Coach Dantonio said of the Wolverines offense, “On the offensive side of the ball, you have four offensive linemen back. They are young at the running back position, experienced at the wide receiver position and quarterback position. They make some plays, create some loose plays with the quarterback, play well on special teams, well-coached football team.”
The Spartan defense was great to start the year. As the offense continued to falter and Dantonio called on them to be perfect while allowing the offense to be mediocre was gut-wrenching for them.
They now look beaten. Once the other teams get a score, they look down. The defense is not as bad as they look, but they do look defeated. Mark Dantonio’s insistence on their perfection while FOR YEARS allowing and having no issues with mediocrity has deflated them. They must play with pride, regardless of what the offense does.
Remember the rule of five. If MSU wins that, games are over. For those who don't remember it, it has to do with sacks and turnovers. If the Spartans have three sacks and give 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. Teams that win the rule of five-win 91% of ball games.
Dantonio said of Michigan week that, “Every game makes the year for us right now. Every game is significant. We have two games left guaranteed to us so every game is significant. This is one that again we need to measure upon and then we have got to let this one go. I've always tried to say, okay, what do we do after Michigan, what do we do after a tough moment, what do we do after a tough loss, how do we respond.”
He added, “That's been a measuring stick as well for us because that speaks to us about growth as individuals and talks to us about maturity as people. Long-term that's what athletics to show you, how to compete and how to move through processes, whether you win or lose.”
But his final answer was not running over with confidence. “After this football game, we need to recollect ourselves and go to the next one and then to the next one and so that's what we'll do.”
Dantonio said of all the preparation that goes into this game, “We spend time for every time that we play in the summer, trying to get some gist of where things are, but things tend to change relative to personnel or what they are doing. They are a little bit different this year maybe then they were last year on defense in terms of coverage and things of that nature and their blitz packages.”
He added, “I think everything that you do is somewhat relevant, but then you have to take your information from the latest sources, too, because things change throughout the season. So I'm not sure if I'm answering the question as far as trick plays or not. Might be a couple but there always is this knees type of games.”
Spartan Nation senior writer shared this with me. “The modern era of the MSU-UM rivalry began in 1995 when Saban and Carr both took over. Since that time UM has a 2-game lead, though both programs have gone on longer, dominant runs, in that time span.”
• Coach Chuck Grenier 28-7 Michigan
• Duffy Carpenter 35-3 Michigan
• Jonathan Schopp 35-13 Michigan
• Matt Hladik 24-14 Michigan
• Matt Duda 37-13 Michigan
• Chris Stoddard 35-14 Michigan
• Jeff Michalowski 38-10 Michigan
I have no faith whatsoever in the Michigan State offensive game planning, coaching or scheme. I like the players and the coaches personally, but as a scheme, it is a total embarrassment. I say make it 34-13 Wolverines.
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