Michigan State Preview

What to watch on offense

Mark Dantonio is in his 7th year at Michigan State has finally brought something to Sparty that they haven’t had in a long time, consistency. After years of mediocre and losing seasons the Spartans have reached a bowl game in each of Dantonio’s 6 seasons. The Spartans added co-offensive coordinators but have maintained the same power running attack that Dantonio’s teams have been known for throughout the years.

After 2 seasons the Spartans are still searching for a QB to replace Kirk Cousins who posted a 28-12 record as a starter. Longtime heir apparent Andrew Maxwell gave way to Connor Cook shortly after the season started and has posted better than average numbers. The Spartan passing game is still a weak spot despite the presence of WRs Bennie Fowler, Aaron Burbridge, and Macgarrett Kings Jr.

After losing La’Veon Bell to the draft Sparty has turned to junior Jeremy Langford to carry the load at RB. Langford, who like many of the backs on the Spartan roster, didn’t see a ton of carries behind Bell has blossomed into playmaker at RB. At 6’0 206lbs, Langford is tough to tackle and has a great mix of speed and power.

The Spartan’s offensive line was decimated by injuries a year ago and while they lose their best linemen, they return the services of seniors Travis Jackson and Fou Fonoti. Returning 4 players with starting experience, though this is one of the smallest offensive lines the Spartans have had under Dantonio weight wise.

Best Offensive Player

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Michigan State Game Prediction

"60 minutes of unnecessary roughness". It’s a statement made after last year’s game, by MSU DC Pat Narduzzi. It was also such a telling statement. MSU out-physicalled, out hit, and beat up (both figuratively and literally) Michigan. Its sticks in the mind of even the most passive of Michigan fans, and I can assure you, inside Fort Schembechler. Brady Hoke even admitted the game was taken to them from a physical standpoint.

Fast forward a year, and MSU has fallen on harder times, having lost several skill players to graduation, and 2 starting offensive linemen to season ending injuries. Their defense, while still stout, isn’t quite as dominant as last year.

Michigan on the other hand, is trending up after taking one on the chin against Bama in the season opener, and the turnover fest in South Bend. The defense, while still a work in progress, has stepped up and at times has even looked dominant. The offense seemed to get back to basics after the ND game, and while there is still some concern about running the football with anyone not named Denard, the offense is improving as well.

As crazy as it may sound, the biggest test this week for Michigan may very well be how Michigan defends MSU’s passing game. At first blush, one would assume that Michigan would stack the line of scrimmage to stop Le’Veon Bell, and pressure a beat up and somewhat struggling offensive line.

Frankly, there are talented wide receivers in East Lansing, primarily Tennessee transfer DeAnthony Arnett and true freshman Aaron Burbridge. They are starting to find a little groove, but it remains to be seen whether they can step up in key moments. Dion Sims, their top target, is questionable with an ankle injury. Its certain that if he plays, it will be at far less than 100%.

When Michigan has the ball, expect them to continue to try and pound the ball on the ground and use play action to take their chances downfield. MSU likes to play their safeties close to the line of scrimmage and like to play more run support than pass coverage. This should open up opportunities, especially up the middle (think big game for Devin Funchess) providing the run game shows some semblance of productivity.

Anything is possible in rivalry games, but barring a turnover laden game, Michigan should be able to slow an already struggling Spartan offense, control the clock, and restore what was considered normal in the state of Michigan prior to 2008. Michigan 24 MSU 13.

2012 Game Preview – Little Brother

What to watch on offense

Mark Dantonio is a defensive coach by trade and he puts a lot of trust in his offensive assistants to handle the day to day operation of the offense. Don Treadwell presided over a very effective offense before leaving to take the Miami (OH) HC job. Dan Roushar seMark Dantonio - ESPN.comrved as Dantonio’s offensive line coach for six years before taking over the offense last season. Dantonio’s teams have always believed in establishing the run first through a power running attack. The Spartans have opened up the offense on a more regular basis the past 2 seasons, throwing the ball more than 60% of the time. Physically beating up opposing defenses remains a hallmark of the Spartan offense however despite the success in the passing game.

Kirk Cousins left Michigan State as its all-time leading passer, handing the reigns to the much hyped Andrew Maxwell. A junior, Maxwell is Michigan State’s most highly touted QB recruit in recent memory and was groomed behind Cousins the last two years. Maxwell has had his share of ups and downs this season completing just 54% of his passes with 6 TDs and 4 interceptions. Michigan State’s struggles in the passing game can be attributed to more than just Maxwell. The loss of B.J. Cunningham and Keshawn Martin has affected the Spartans more than most anticipated. The Spartans have no “go to” WR and have struggled to find playmakers outside. Keith Mumphery leads the way with 25 catches on the year and more than 300yds. True freshman Aaron Burbridge has come on strong in recent weeks accounting for 13 catches and 223yds in the last 2 weeks.

The Spartan offense is led by 6’2 238 lb Junior Le’Veon Bell who has taken over as the sole bread winner at RB this season. Bell is regarded as a legitimate 1st or 2nd round NFL prospect. Bell has surprising quick feet for a big back and his receiving skills make him an enticing outlet out of the backfield. Bell got off to an incredible fast start this season and though the first six games he sits at 916yds with 8 TDs. Bell has already racked up a ridiculous 200 carries in just the first six games and is on pace to carry the ball over 400 times this season.

The Spartans returned 4 starters on the offensive line but quickly saw two of them fall to injury. Michigan State has been forced to use a patchwork offensive line since injuries to guard Fou Fonoti and center Travis Jackson and the results haven’t been pleasant. Redshirt freshman Jack Allen has taken over under center and has experienced a trial by fire.

Best Offensive Player

La’Veon Bell- The most talented Spartan RB since TJ Duckett, Bell is a load to bring down and has the kind of burst and vision that make NFL scouts drool. Bell’s most underrated feature may be his hands. Bell recorded 267yds receiving as a junior.

Head Coach– Mark Dantonio-6th Year

Off Coor– Dan Roushar-2nd Year

Def Coor– Pat Narduzzi-6 Year

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Big Ten Football Players of the Week

The offensive, defensive and special teams players of the week and freshman of the week in the Big Ten for games on Oct. 6 were announced this morning. Below are this week’s honorees:

Offensive Co-Players of the WeekOct 06, 2012; West Lafayette, IN, USA;  Michigan Wolverines quarterback Denard Robinson (16) gets tackled by Purdue Boilermakers safety Max Charlot (34) during the second quarter at Ross Ade Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE

Denard Robinson, Michigan

Sr., QB, Deerfield Beach, Fla./Deerfield Beach

· Became the Big Ten’s all-time leader in rushing yards by a quarterback after rushing for 235 yards, second-most in single-game history by a Big Ten quarterback, against Purdue on Saturday

· Has 3,905 career rushing yards, which ranks fourth in NCAA history among quarterbacks

· Also passed for 105 yards against Purdue, totaling 340 yards of offense to move into the top 10 in total offense in Big Ten history

· Wins his ninth career Offensive Player of the Week honor, tied for the most in conference history with former Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne

· Last Michigan Offensive Player of the Week: Denard Robinson (Sept. 10, 2012)

Carlos Hyde, Ohio State

Jr., RB, Naples, Fla./Naples

· Rushed for 140 yards and four touchdowns on 28 carries in Ohio State’s win over nationally ranked Nebraska on Saturday night

· Became the first Buckeye since Eddie George in 1995 to score four touchdowns in a game

· Scored on touchdown runs from one, one, seven and 16 yards to help the Buckeye offense to 63 points, tied for the second-most points by a Big Ten team this season

· Wins the first Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week award of his career

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An Early Look at the 2012 B1G Legends Division (Pre-Spring)

1. Michigan 10-2 (7-1)

michigan logo

2012 Forecast

IF the Wolverines can find somewhat productive replacements for Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen and find consistency on offense, they should have another very good season.

Key Returnees

Offense: Denard Robinson (QB-SR) 142-258 (55%) 2173 Yds. 20 TD 15 INT – 221 Carries 1176 Yds (5.3) 16 TD. B1G Football Honorable mention.Denard Robinson - OSU

Fitzgerald Toussaint (RB-JR) 187 Carries 1091 Yds (5.6) 9 TD – 6 Rec 1 TD. B1G Football Honorable mention.

Jeremy Gallon (WR-JR) 31 Rec. 453 (14.6) 3 TD.

Taylor Lewan (OT-JR) B1G Football Second Team.

Defense: Jordan Kovacs (SS-SR) 75 Tackles 8 Tfl 4 Sacks 1 Int.

Kenny Demens (MLB-SR) 94 tackles 5 Tfl 3 Sacks. B1G Football Honorable mention.

Jake Ryan (SAM-SO) 37 Tackles 11 Tfl 3 Sacks.

Craig Roh (DE-SR) 32 Tackles 8 Tfl 4 Sacks.

Key Departures

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