The State of State

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Will Gholston will get several chances to impact the game this Saturday.  Photo courtesy of Bill Marklevits.
Will Gholston will get several chances to impact the game this Saturday. Photo courtesy of Bill Marklevits.

 

In last Saturday’s 34-24 triumph over Wisconsin, the Spartans looked like a top ten team. With Coach Dantonio watching the game elsewhere, Michigan State’s play was awe-inspiring. However, as good as Wisconsin is, arch-rival Michigan may be better. With Desmond Robinson at quarterback, the Wolverine offense looks nearly unstoppable. This year’s battle between the unbeaten will truly be a fierce one. You can count on one thing for this game- Coach Dantonio wouldn’t miss this week for the world. “You can’t keep me down Michigan week.”

 

Some key points on the Spartans going into Saturday’s showdown:

 

  • Kirk Cousins looked great at quarterback for most of the game. He completed 20 of 29 passes for 269 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.
  • Cousins was clutch on third downs against Wisconsin. He completed 10 of 12 passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns on third down.
  • Going into the Wisconsin game, MSU converted 33% of their third downs. The Spartans offense converted 9 of 18 third downs against the Badgers’ defense. Michigan State needs stay hot on third downs versus the Wolverines.
  • Edwin Baker, LeVeon Bell, and Larry Caper looked excellent against Wisconsin. Baker looked like a madman when he got the ball- he ran as if MSU linebacker Greg Jones was chasing him. Although the terrific trio did not score any touchdowns, the group combined for 184 yards on the ground. Caper will get more carries as Bell and Baker continue to share carries against Michigan.
  • The Spartans’ wide receivers looked good overall. Four receivers (Mark Dell, Charlie Gantt, Keith Nichol, and B.J. Cunningham) had at least three catches. Also, all four except for Nichol caught a touchdown pass from Cousins. However, there were some disappointing dropped passes in the game.
  • Unfortunately, Keshawn Martin only had two receptions versus the Badgers. Even then, he played a key role in the game. KMart scored on a punt return, had a catch for thirty yards, and opened up other wide receivers by running decoy routes. KMart needs to have another good game in Saturday’s contest.
  • The Spartans’ offensive line needs to step it up versus the Wolverines. Even when the Badgers blitzed only four, Cousins felt the heat. This simply cannot happen against the Wolverines.
  • Although the defense shut down John Clay and limited Scott Tolzien to 125 yards, the Spartan D was not able to stop running back James White. White ran rampant in the game- racking up 10 carries for 99 yards (good for a 9.8 yards per carry average) and two touchdowns.
  • When Wisconsin pounded the ball inside, the Spartan front seven was able to stop it cold. Outside runs were a different story. Michigan State got burned on stretch plays and cutback runs by the Badgers, especially when White had the ball. The defensive ends did not contain and the safeties got sucked in. If this happens against Denard Robinson and the Wolverines, it is game over for the Spartans.

Another concern was the lack of pass rush. Tolzien had plenty of time to throw. If you give Robinson time to throw, he will burn you. 

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