A funny thing happened on the way to the box score this week.
My impression from the game was that our RBs simply did not carry the load and that Denard was left out to dry in the running game. I would say that aside from the cupcake defenses this season (BG, Mass), our RBs have done an ok, but not overly impressive, job. But the box score shows that our backs did, at least, a decent job:
Smith, Vincent 7 34 0 34 0 13 4.9 Shaw, Michael 4 29 0 29 0 21 7.2 Hopkins, S. 2 13 0 13 0 7 6.5
But then there's the story that the box score can't tell...
that our 2nd/3rd and short running, along with our red zone running, was well below average. In fact, I think that was the big achilles for our offense. It's what added pressure on Denard to throw the ball in the red zone on 3rd downs. We would move the ball down the field well, using our backs to get decent 5/6 yd games, but then our red zone offense, usually our major strength, couldn't get us the big 2 or 3 yards. In taking away this short running game offense, Denard's dual threat was slightly marginalized which enabled MSU to drop more back in coverage.
So, while I know this weekend has brough generalized grievances (the INTs, the LBs, the Secondary), I think one specific situation that we need to improve on for next week is our 3rd and short and our red zone rush offense. I have alot of confidence that we can do that considering it has been a strength. Maybe get Hopkins more involved.
Obviously, we didn't have the big play this week that we usually see. But this team showed it could methodically drive the ball down the field. However, if we cannot run the ball on 3rd and short and in the red zone, then these kind of drives are bound to fail. Let's get this right for Iowa and look to get a big W.