B1G 2013// Michigan State Cocktail Party Preview

US PRESSWIRE

Break out your tin foil hats folks! It's Conspiracy Michigan State Week. The Michigan State University Spartans are up next in Off Tackle Empire's B1G 2013 weekly preview series. For a change, last season's disappointment was solely due to on field performance and not back room deals*. Here is a quick primer on MSU football (*Your level of agreement with this statement may depend on how close you "listen to the microwave" while wearing said tinfoil hat).

About last season

The Good News...

Michigan State posted their third straight winning season capped by their club record sixth consecutive bowl game appearance and won back to back bowl games for just the fourth time in school history. Offensive whipping boy Dan Roushar moves on the the NFL (New Orleans Saints) and is replaced by the quarterbacks coach Dave Warner. The defense under Coach Pat Narduzzi was a strength again as MSU was ranked among the best in the NCAA FBS division (Total defense: 4th; Rushing Defense: 8th; Passing Defense: 9th; 3rd Down Conversions; 8th).

The Bad News...

Except for a select few programs, 10+ win seasons are not a realistic yearly expectation. The Spartan faithful should have been prepared for a drop off from the heights of school record back to back 11 win seasons. It is extremely tough for a new QB to step into the Kirk Cousins' shoes as he left MSU as arguably the best signal caller in school history. Still, few would have imagined with the defense that the Spartans fielded coupled with one of the best running backs in school history that the drop would be so steep. The MSU offense ranked 9th in the conference (95th overall) in Total Offense, only Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois were worse - and none of those clubs finished with a winning record. Quarterback play was lacking all season which was never more evident than when Le'Veon Bell, the star RB had the longest pass completion in our bowl game and had more passing yards in the game than our long groomed starter Andrew Maxwell.

On the Offensive Side of the Ball

The Good News...

As reported, Dan Roushar moves onto the NFL. There is hope that another year has seasoned Aaron Burbridge, Bennie Fowler, Tony Lippett, Keith Mumphrey, Andre Sims Jr. and DeAnthony Arnett among others, so that they have developed a bit more timing with prospective starter Maxwell at in game situations. Damion Terry, a dual QB threat in the Terelle Pryor mold out of PA, and Connor Cook are ready to step up/in if Maxwell's struggles continue. Jim Bollman (of DAVE fame at OSU) was stolen hired away from Purdue to act as co-Offensive Coordinator before he coached a single game for the Boilers.

The Bad News...

Le'Veon Bell, Dion Sims and Larry Caper all move on to the NFL as well. The first two were responsible a large part of the offensive success last season. It seemed that Sims was Maxwell's favorite target (even if he was third in receptions and yards on the team). Bell had as many TD's alone (13) as all the receivers combined (13). One half of the new co-Offensive Coordinator team (Warner) is the position coach where a large part of the offensive problems resided last season. Jim Bollman (of DAVE fame at OSU) was stolen hired away from Purdue to act as co-Offensive Coordinator before he coached a single game for the Boilers.

On the Defensive Side of the Ball

The Good News...

Coach Pat Narduzzi returns to lead the stout MSU defense for another season. Max Bullough (111 Tackles) is back for his senior season and he is joined by Denicos Allen (79 Tackles) and Darqueze Dennard (52 tackles/3 interceptions). Narduzzi has this unit performing at a high level and with the talent amassed on that side of the ball, MSU should be at the top of the statistical charts once again. Defensive Line (either a strength or a weakness depending on the wind during Dantonio's tenure) loses position Coach Ted Gill in what seems like a less than amicable parting of the ways. Ron Burton from the Air Force Academy takes over.

The Bad News...

Johnny Adams and William Gholston both left for the NFL. Gholston showed flashes of brilliance coupled with moments that baffled you. Adams while subject to a few letdowns, was an electric player who kept the offense honest on his side of the defense. Defensive Line (either a strength or a weakness depending on the wind during Dantonio's tenure) loses position Coach Ted Gill in what seems like a less than amicable parting of the ways. Ron Burton from the Air Force Academy takes over.

On Special Teams

The Good News...

Nick Hill is back for another season of returning kicks. He had 31 last season for a 21.6 yard average. Kevin Muma is is the senior kick off specialist as a stellar junior season. Mike Sadler returns for another season of punting duties.

The Bad News...

Dan Conroy and his incredible leg have moved on to other things. Last season's struggles may not be completely attributable to him as recapped nicely here: The Blame game; Dan Conroy by HeckDorland at The Only Colors. That means the competition for FG kicker is wide open...although we appear to have the top ranked kicking recruit in the country arriving on campus in the fall in Michael Geiger. Punt returns...well suffice it to say we really, really missed Keshawn Martin last season.

On the Schedule

The Good News...

The Spartans lose Wisconsin and OSU from the 2012 schedule and they are replaced by Illinois and Indiana. The home /road schedules are manageable this year with UM, Minnesota, Purdue, Indiana due to visit East Lansing and trips to Nebraska, Northwestern, Iowa, and Illinois on the docket for the Spartans. Michigan State should be favored in at least four if not five of those games. The schedule also includes visits from I-AA Youngstown State, Western Michigan and the USF Bulls. Anything less than bowl eligibility would be an unmitigated disaster.

The Bad News...

The schedule includes I-AA Youngstown State. The Spartans travel to South Bend to face the Fighting Irish, where it appears MSU's winning magic has worn off.

If You're Talking to a Spartan Fan

Don't Mention...

Five conference losses by a grand total of 13 points, the Rose Bowl, the conspiracy to keep MSU out of the Rose Bowl.

Do Mention...

The Spartan stadium expansion project, back to back 11 wins seasons, Kirk Cousins, Coach Dantonio, success on both the football field and the basketball court.


Do you want to look cool and impress all your friends with the latest OTE swag?

Here is the link for the Spartan version of the OTE shirts: Michigan State OTE shirt

B1G 2013 | MICHIGAN STATE WEEK

MONDAY |Cocktail Party Preview

TUESDAY | TOC - The Smartest Guys in the Room

WEDNESDAY | Spartan Potluck

THURSDAY | Surprise

FRIDAY | Keeping the Enemy Close

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