Observations on the Spartans

Submitted by troublet1969 on August 31st, 2013 at 4:04 AM

After watching the Spartans play this evening, I had the strange feeling that I had seen this team before but I could not quite place where.  The game, which had about 22 punts , was not  "must see TV" by any means but it did have a purpose for many conference opponents fans.  What are we going to have to deal with...?  

From what I was able to see, the Spartans have still got a decent defensive unit.  They seem very opportunistic in trying to force turnovers and getting after the QB.  The offense was atrocious and Mr. Dantonio will be in the hospital if this happens against the Irish when they play here pretty soon.  Between Maxwell and the other QB that played, I do not know if they can honestly say that they have a shot at winning against he top tier conference teams!  O'Connor the kid from my town in Ohio (Lima) did not play.  I thought that I had heard that he was doing well in camp but maybe Dantonio thought he should continue to hide in the weeds a little longer with that one.

I know that I should wait a few games before getting too excited thinking that we will go in to East Lansing and smack them around for 4 qtrs but I cannot help it.  I sure as heck better watch us play tomorrow before writing that check but that team that I thought I had seen before was in that same stadium but it was coached by John L. Smith then...

Their defense did have some spectacular plays one of which will easily be compared to Charles Woodson's leaping, one handed, masterpiece...though the degree of difficulty on his was exponentially higher since he was near the sideline.  There are not many teams that can win with depending primarily on their defense.  Since we have seen Indiana and Minnesota both display the ability to score points so far, is there anybody out there beside me that thinks that Mark Dantonio should be glad that he did not open with either of them?

Your thoughts please...

This is to all of you that had negative responses about a Sparty thread.  This was intended for light discussion.  It was not an exhaustive study on the teams capabilities or dissertation on how much they hate us.  If you didn't want to read it, the solution was very simple.  I have no love for fellow Michigan fans that feel the need to nit pick the other posts because they are so enlightened.  I am a casual reader of many of your posts...this is not that serious folks.  Life is short, calm the heck down!




August 31st, 2013 at 10:12 AM ^

Name calling being bad form and whatnot, but there were only a couple of games on tv last night.  One of them was MSU, another was NDSU.  I watched both, mostly out of excitement for the return of college football.  If we had played last night, I'm sure there wouldn't be so much attention to the MSU game.  As it was, we got to see how awesome (the best EVAR) a defense can be against a terrible team, and how terrible an offense can be when it lacks most of the parts required for an offense to be good.


August 31st, 2013 at 10:44 AM ^

I totally understand the excitement, but I'm just noting that I don't see a post about NDSU beating Kansas St., which to me is a pretty huge upset.  

I guess I'm just a little cranky today; I get people care about MSU more than they let on around here, and it was an interesting look at a rival that struggled.  It just feels unnecessary on the first day of the season to dwell on a game that was pretty heavily talked about already and has little direct impact on the season until much later.  Let's see how crappy their offense looks in 4 or 5 weeks is all I'm saying.


August 31st, 2013 at 10:46 AM ^

Oh yeah, totally.  And maybe I'm just being cranky; I probably am.  I just don't see a need for posts like this given how much it was discussed yesterday and how irrelevant it is for at least a couple of weeks (MSU's offense is hot garbage, but they also have, what, almost 2 months to fix it before UM sees them.  They'll probably have something figured out by then.


August 31st, 2013 at 11:01 AM ^

You don't understand. Pixels are a precious natural resource and if we don't conserve them we'll soon run out and have none left to talk about our hotly anticipated matchup against the Chippewas. Won't someone think of the children?

In seriousness, people want to talk about football. We've covered every conceivable piece of ground (Brian wrote 41,000 words) about our team until we see some actual action. So in the meantime, people want to talk about football that's actually played instead of hypothetical football. Last night the most interesting football was that played by our in-state division rival, ergo we want to talk about it.


August 31st, 2013 at 8:37 AM ^

My thoughts are that Id figure being from O'Connor's hometown that youd spell his name correctly. Just kidding... But know that our game is their Super Bowl so be assured that they will play much better. What I didnt understand was why not play deep ball all game with Cook and those good wrs? They cannot run the ball without Bell. Maybe thats whats coming vs us.


August 31st, 2013 at 8:48 AM ^

I think my favorite part was that the TV folks were saying they got things going at the end of the first half to score that TD, when in reality they were gifted 40 yards by pass interference and holding penalties. If that's their best drive of the night, I'm not worried about their offense in the least.


August 31st, 2013 at 9:04 AM ^

The PI penalties in the game (both sides, called and uncalled) were pretty bizarre.  Otherwise, it seemed like there weren't a ton of flags.  I wonder how many B1G coaches will be pointing out to officials that Dennard likes to do plenty of grabbing on deep routes, and if he can get beaten (badly) by WMU receivers...well, State just isn't a good team.


August 31st, 2013 at 9:16 AM ^

the announcers telling us that Sparty has "one of the better defenses in the country" scant seconds before Western scored the last TD.

I think the one that made me laugh/spit coffee the most was on a kick-off. The announcers were talking about what a great job MSU did on coverage and "keeping their arms inside", while I was watching a minimum of two Western blockers get spun around by the jersey.


August 31st, 2013 at 9:52 AM ^

I believe it was a punt return along the near sideline.  The broadcaster complimented one of the Spartans for drive blocking his man 15 yards.  My wife said, "yeah, because he was holding him."  Then came the comment about getting hands inside.


August 31st, 2013 at 9:18 AM ^

That was our game against Wisconsin in 08 all over again. Is Maxwell Sheridan and Cook Threet, or is it the other way around? The difference is...Wisconsin was rated, and Western won 2 games in the MAC last year...


August 31st, 2013 at 9:23 AM ^

I'm curious what the results would have been against a more competent MAC offense.  If this game had been against Northern Illinois or Toledo, I think things may have gotten very interesting.


August 31st, 2013 at 9:34 AM ^

Thoughts as follows - Western had a bad QB to start who threw a near pick (and some real ones) on nearly every play.  He got hurt. Then the guy that replaced him (A RS freshman) looked like the most poised QB on the field for a while.  He had a drive or two but mostly threw near picks.  WMU had little running game talent.  The best WR on the field was the WMU freshman 2 star - seriously.  The 2nd score was against MSU's backups - any competent team would have won that game, but an average MAC team with a backup QB could not do anything on offense really. 

MSU's back 7 was considered one of the best in the country and they played well...except Dennard.  He was beaten 3x deep, including twice by said WR freshman.  WMU would have had a TD on a sideline route on one of those but Dennard got away with pulling on the arm of the WR that had blazed by him down the sideline.  Somewhere in the bowels of E. Lansing discussions of safety help for Dennard Island must be happening.  But still their best two units (back 7) did good - heady play on one INT, and the second INT was fantastic, that kid should be playing WR for MSU.  But it was WMU as an opponent.  Front 4 did not generate much pressure alone until WMU began wearing down.  Yes they got upfield but this was a MAC level offensive line and LBs were being sent it on blitzes to generate pash rush.

On offense - Maxwell is ok, he is a poor man's Hoyer.  He can throw, but he doesnt change games or inspire anyone. He was killed by the WR corps again, even Burbridge was dropping stuff as MSU seems to be like the Lions - once you get there, most players go backwards.  Cook sucked, he is a poor man's Stanton.  Langford showed something at RB but who knows what he is when they play real competition.  Bullough is a fullback disguised as a RB.  MSU's wildcat with Langford was the only real time they drove without the help of 15 yard pass interference calls.  Biggest issue of the night for Sparty is aside from WRs who like to drop balls is an OL that didnt get any push against a MAC level defense. Even late in the game when Big 10 teams wear down their opponents by their 50+ lbs per player at each position it was not happening.  With all the talk of a senior/junior laden OL, now finally healthy, that is the major issue.  ND DL is going to eat them alive. 

All in all MSU still has a pathetic schedule and bring in 2 more cupcakes; USF was 3-9 last year and like WMU brings in a bad QB next week but they actually have some defense so I imagine if they stifle MSU's offense the catcalls in that stadium will be immense.  ND is going to demolish MSU - the back 7 can only do so much.  But a lot of other games on their schedule such as @Iowa or Indiana at home got a lot more interesting.


August 31st, 2013 at 9:34 AM ^

Summary: Ask Dennis Green as evveryone on the board last night had running through their minds.

1.  Most importanlty: The offensive line is terrible.  I thought there was probobably some middle ground between BC's observation how Leveon Bell's yards were mostly on Bell and Phil Steele saying MSU had the 2nd best line in the B1G.  They look worse than last year.

2. The RB Langford is their best.  He's not threat but has a bit of wiggle.  Bullough was as much hype as you suspected.  He's slower than Rawls

3.  Maxwell doesn't do dumb stuff and can cmplete crossing routes across the middle (their best/only?) play.  But he doesn't generate anything.  Cook can do a little with his legs.  That is all.

4.  The WRs.  Oh boy.  They've regressed from last year.  The 3rd stringers are going to get more run, leading one to ask what they're doing in practice.

5.  Hoover got some stuff done on the DL.  Their interior DL won't be the hole I was hoping.  Did anyone see Phil Steele's 4th team nose tackel Lawrence Marshall?  

6.  Everyone else is as good as advertiesed on D.  You'll have to take some shots against Dennard when they isolate him.  Some of those shots were there; some weren't.


August 31st, 2013 at 9:52 AM ^

I would normally agree who cares about State when we're not playing them on game day....but I watched their game and was completely surprised at what I saw.

Their defense is still very good but seemed to be lacking as much of a pass rush as I remember from last year.

The offense was ugly. You expect a team like Michigan State to be able to pound the ball against a team like Western and eventually wear them down to get yards but that never happened in this game. Even when it looked like Western might be about to break when State rushed a few times and moved the ball on WMU's 3 yard line after an interception they still couldn't punch it in.

The passing game continued to have that "How the hell is this not working?" feel to it. When the receivers did a good job of getting open the QBs would throw off the mark and other times on great passes the receivers dropped seemingly easy catches.

Michigan State was never going to lose this game but against an even slightly more talented offense they would have been in a lot of trouble.

One Inch Woody…

August 31st, 2013 at 10:13 AM ^

BIG TEHHNNN!!! Our conference is definitely coming out to be the absolute worst one this year... Even the MAC fields better teams than the Big 10! This game perfectly summed up how shitty the big 10 is. Our bottom feeder teams allow FCS schools to get within a 60 point margin of them! That and they can only score on defense or special teams. Pathetic. I'm getting more nervous for our debut today.


August 31st, 2013 at 10:24 AM ^

John L never had a defense that good.  Dantonio will break out all the tricks when they play us.  Don't be like Sparty and "write that check."


August 31st, 2013 at 10:33 AM ^

When I think of their offense, I think it's something like if you took our offense and then took away Gardner, Fitz, and Gallon. Not pretty

In my mind this went from tossup to probable win last night.

A Nonymous

August 31st, 2013 at 10:39 AM ^

My observations from last night.

Best player on the field was Broncos WR Corey Davis.  Hands down.  Not quick, but always found a seam and has great hands.  I think he ended up with half of WMU's total yards.  2 star, 70 rated by 247.  I think he may end up being a good one.  

The MSU defense is just as good as last year if not better.  The WMU TD at the end of the game was against a lot of our 2nd and 3rd teamers.  I'm not a stats guy but a 26-7 victory would've 'looked' much better.  WMU also gained 56 of their 204 yds on that drive.  I'd rather keep the starters healthy and give up that TD.

Someone commented on the pass rush.  MSU had 20 sacks last year.  There were 5 last night.  I'm not worried about the defense but who knows....with as much time as they'll be spending on the field they could suffer.  The MSU offense is the biggest threat to the MSU defense.

There is no word in the English language to adequately describe MSU's offense.  It's beyond ugly, abysmal, boring, etc.  I'm not going to waste my time talking about it as most of you have already identified the issues.  I have a bad feeling about USF next week.  



August 31st, 2013 at 10:54 AM ^

Over at RCMB, they actually have a pretty funny thread going called "The 'Make and excuse' thread"


That ball they play with is a weird shape- too tough to catch I'd say

Not enough time to prepare.

Video boards are still too distracting.

WMU is the toughest opponent we've played so far


Ty Butterfield

August 31st, 2013 at 11:18 AM ^

On my way to Ann Arbor for the game. I think I will reserve judgement until after I see how Michigan looks. Some of the comments on the RCMB remind me of the comments here after the 2009 UMASS game. Basically, yes the team won but good lord things look dicey.


August 31st, 2013 at 12:24 PM ^

this year...maybe more than last year.  They don't seem to have any home run threat either running or passing the ball, and are probably going to depend on their D for a lot of points.  I'll be very surprised if they win or lose many by more than 14.  


August 31st, 2013 at 12:49 PM ^

Either the passing game has to get a lot better, or they will struggle to win 6 games this year. 3 yards per pass attempt is unacceptable in any weather conditions, especially against a mediocre defense like Western. They may be better than they showed yesterday, but whatever their "true" level of ability is, I would not expect much improvement over the course of the season as Maxwell is on the flat part of the learning curve now.

Edited: when betting on MSU games, always bet the under!