Behold! I have destroyed Heiko and taken hold of the Opponent Watch. My plan is almost complete. For those new to the internet, every week we’ll take a look at the happenings amongst Michigan’s past and upcoming opponents. This week provides us very little evidence, simply because we still have way more variables than equations. What we can glean thus far though is, once again, BIG TENNNNNN. So let’s take a look.
About Last Saturday:
The Road Ahead:
Notre Dame Fig Things (1-0)
Last game: Notre Dame 28, Temple 6 (W)
Recap: I didn’t watch this game, because I only watch the most rival-y of rivals. However, I know we have a bunch of MSU and Purdue readers, so we’ll cover the game anyway. Notre Dame won comfortably over a meh Temple team who finished 4-7 in the Big East last year. Tommy Rees (16/23, 346 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs) had a statistically solid game, hitting home run balls to TJ Jones and TE Troy Niklas. Notre Dame fans seem generally unenthusiastic about their linebacking corp through one game, but Notre Dame fans being famously reasonable people, I’m sure they’ll give their defense time to develop. From what I saw, their defensive line remains gigantic and immovable. And I might be the only one, but I love seeing a perfectly-round 340-pound defensive tackle wearing the number one. He looks like a walking power symbol.
Brian and company will preview this game in detail. For now, Rudy was offside.
This team is as frightening as: Tommy Rees. They might completely implode into a pile of ruined expectations. They might become Joe Montana for an evening. They might knee a cop in the stomach. You just don’t know. Fear level = 7.5
Michigan should worry about: Tommy Rees. No, for srs. He’s senior with a bunch of starts, and who has had a decent amount of success against Michigan. He’s the only college quarterback with experience under the lights at Michigan Stadium. He threw for 315 yards in 2011. He threw for 346 yards last week.
Michigan can sleep soundly about:
When they play Michigan: ALL OF THE LIGHTS
Next game: vs. #17 Michigan
[AFTER THE JUMP: You will feel much better about Michigan’s prospects this season for reasons that have nothing to do with Michigan]
Pictured: Will Gholston; Not pictured: Will Gholston making a play
I'm apparently a blogger of the self-hating variety, as yesterday I re-watched last weekend's Michigan State-Iowa opposite-of-a-barnburner and even sat through both overtimes. The things I do for you people (and a paycheck, I guess).
You probably know the story from this one; MSU couldn't hold on to two different ten-point leads or muster much of anything on offense, improbably losing to a Hawkeye team that averaged 3.7 yards per play after Andrew Maxwell tossed an interception in the second overtime. While this contest was fun for rivalry purposes, it was absolutely terrible for the game of football.
Let's move on to the breakdown while I still have the will to live.
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Largely pro-style. State operates from under center on almost all standard downs, only going to the shotgun when they need to put the ball in the air.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? MSU runs a largely zone-heavy rushing attack, though they'll mix in a heavy dose of POWER and a few isos.
Hurry it up or grind it out? State managed a 42.8% adj. pace last year when they featured an actual passing offense. My guess is that figure will be even lower after this year, becausezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz*criesinsleep*zzzzzzzzzzz.
Quarterback Dilithium Level (Scale: 1 [Navarre] to 10 [Denard]): Andrew Maxwell does not attempt to scramble or really move outside of the pocket. There's a reason for this. Here's a possibly-generous 3.
Dangerman: I was going to save this for the play breakdown, but whateva I do what I want:
That's LeVeon Bell, obviously, who's rushed for 916 yards and eight touchdowns on 200(!) carries this season. No other player on the Spartans has more than 16 carries. I think they call those "bellhorses" or "workcows" but it's early in the morning so I may be wrong here.
Anyway, the above is a prime example of why Bell is so dangerous. He's very adept at seeing the hole in a zone run and cutting to the backside, as he does above, and his combination of power and athleticism often allows him to make State's rather ineffective blocking irrelevant. Watch the center and right guard on that play; they pull off an effective double of the nose guard, but RG #62—Chris McDonald, reputedly their best lineman—fails to get off the block and chip anyone at the second level—you can see him make a desperation dive for MLB James Morris (#44) far after he has any chance to make a block.
But LeVeon Bell is very, very good, and simply adjusts by juking two linebackers out of their shoes and carrying two defensive backs into the end zone. He will make something out of nothing, and that something will be the majority of the MSU offense.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown, including the reincarnation of John L. and more evidence that William Gholston is the most overrated player in the Big Ten, and possibly the country.]