MSU's Special Teams Not So Special

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In a game that looked more like a track meet than a Big Ten football contest, MSU’s special teams weren’t so special. Numerous big plays were given up by the Spartan defense that apparently forgot how to tackle this week. The Michigan State offense went into hibernation in overtime. It is debatable whether it was poor offensive execution or poor play calling in the overtime period that left MSU fans grumbling all the way to the parking lot. Even with numerous defensive lapses and poor offensive execution, Michigan State was in a position to win this game. After film is reviewed, the coaches and players will look specifically at special teams and realize it was the largest contributing factor in MSU’s loss outside of 3rd and long defense.

I stated two weeks ago that Michigan State’s special teams would cost them a football game this year if they didn’t get some things corrected. Devin Thomas was the lone special teams bright spot. His fourth quarter return to the NW 30 yard line set up MSU’s game tying touchdown.

When you look at today’s game a few miscues on special teams stymied the MSU momentum and put Michigan State’s defense in a big hole. Today was not freshman punter Aaron Bates’ best outing. I am willing to give him a mulligan on his first real shank of the 2007 season. The blocked punt that really buried the MSU defense was a clear blocking assignment breakdown. Those two punts were probably the difference in yesterday’s game.

Brett Swenson had an extra point blocked in the fist quarter that proved to be the difference in the fourth quarter. If that extra point is made, MSU never sees overtime. I am not going to pin this loss solely on Michigan State’s special teams, but it was easy to see that our kicking game was less than stellar.

I’m not going to jump off the Michigan State bandwagon. I believe in this team and I believe in this coaching staff. When I come to East Lansing next weekend, I expect MSU ready to play and compete four quarters with Indiana. Don’t look now Spartan fans; these Hoosiers are playing pretty good football. They are fast, have great QB pressure and can put some points on the board. Michigan State has to learn how to fight through these two losses and move on. I never believed that MSU would lose to Northwestern, where have I been for the last umpteen zillion years?