Yeah, it wasn’t pretty against Notre Dame Saturday. If you worried about something in the offseason Spartan-football related, chances are those worries were legitimized against the Irish. The Spartans went from hands down the second best team in the Legends division…to just another member of the B1G's squishy middle of teams we know little about.
Because I'm an equal opportunity kind of guy, it's time to spell out Sparty's deficiencies. How much time do you have?
Hey, remember all those genius plays that came at the perfect time the last few years? Remember the Texas Tech bowl game where the Spartan coaching staff, short 14 players, threw the kitchen sink of clever offensive plays at the Red Raiders and almost pulled off the huge upset? The architect of much of that, Don Treadwell, is gone to Oxford. So is the panache of those playcalls.
Kirk Cousins. Big arm, big heart, babies smile instinctively when he walks by, etc. Also immobile, forces the ball into coverage late in games.
And it ain't all Cousins either - the coaches kept calling deep vertical routes into Cover Two schemes. Didn't work in the first half. Didn't work in the second half. Maybe a short crossing route to your deep stable of playmakers? No? Okay, nevermind.
One of the most egregious blocking displays of all time was put on by that Spartan offensive lineman allowing two Irish defenders past him with nary an effort at blocking them. It looked like a bouncer letting hot girls into a club behind him while he makes sure no dudes get by his velvet rope. "Oh, you ladies go right ahead..." And don't think that's the last time you see Sparty's linemen give VIP treatment to opposing defenders, this was a preseason weakness that apparently was not dealt with.
But at least the O-Line can run block, because if a Dantonio coached team can't run block, then trouble awai...Wait what? The line can't move a blocking dummy? Bad signs, bad times.
Remember that one time Michigan State's front four got pressure on a quarterback? Me neither. ANOTHER glaring preseason weakness that hasn't been remedied.
OSU, Michigan, Wisky, Nebraska. In a row. Looked like probable 2-2 or 3-1 before the season started. Looks like 1-3 now. A solid 1-3. Fortunately for Sparty, OSU is horrendous. Unfortunately the game is in Columbus and Sparty doesn't ever play well versus the Bucks.
Last three difficult road games, counting the bowl matchup? I don't really have to tell you how those went. And OSU and Nebraska are notoriously difficult places to play...
UM Defensive Line v. MSU Defense Line? Edge: Push
UM Offense Line v. MSU Offense Line? Edge: Michigan
Cousins v. Denard? Edge: Meh, different strokes for different folks.
Easier schedule? Edge: Michigan
Beat Notre Dame? Edge: Michigan
Looks like Michigan went from a huge underdog to MSU...to almost an equal. Definitely did not see that coming.