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Michigan State Potluck, Day Two: Something about Founders, Something about Punting, and Something about Offensive Offense

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This potluck is a mess. Which is pretty on-brand for MSU’s offense.

Michigan State v Nebraska
MSU’s offense: a story in a photo.
Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

It’s hard to get much more depressing than yesterday’s introductory potluck, but that’s not going to stop us from trying. But to make you happier, we’re going to also talk about beer. Now, to clarify what happened here, I’d like to point out that although I’m compiling the potlucks this week, I didn’t write the questions. And this is the question that was set for today:

Because it’s Michigan, we must talk about Founders. Founders founders founders. Talk about your favorite Founders of the Big Ten.

What does it mean? I don’t know. There was confusion. Most of us decided to interpret it as our favorite Founders beer. But like MSU’s offense, none of us really know what we’re running around doing here.

MC ClapYoHandz: I mean I’m going to have to go with Barry Alvarez. Instrumental in shaping the college game both now and back when universities first implemented American football in 1993. Oh you want beer? Give me that Nitro Oatmeal Stout.

MNW: I’m a big Lake Forest guy. John M. Coulter’s my favorite Founder, and frankly it’s not even close.

I had a Mas Agave tequila barrel-aged gose the last time I was in Grand Rapids, and it was delicious. Also regular Rubæus > nitro Rubæus and frankly it’s not close.

Boilerman31: The correct answer is James H. Smart, the President of Purdue who, in 1895, had a vision to set forth and organize this empire.

When it comes to Founders, Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale and it’s 8.5% ABV is near and dear to my heart.

Thumpasaurus: Why, Red Grange and George Halas, of course! Halas was more of the founder, but could not have been as such without the hype Grange brought to the fledgling sport of professional football.

Blushing Monk doesn’t get its due as one of the best Founders limited releases. It’s a wonderful beer that’s more complex than Rubæus and has just a hint of that Flanders red taste I love so much.

MNW: I had this one as well, and it’s so good. And Thump is dead-on about the Flanders taste. Yum.

BrianB2: As a Maryland alum am I even permitted to give an opinion on such matters? I’m going to go with no, no I am not. I will tell you though, that Founders Brewing Co. is mildly overrated, but they do have one of the more reasonable session IPAs out there, as far as session IPAs go. It is a solid tailgating beer, but generally I reach for something stronger before taking in the views at Maryland Stadium, in the hopes to be asleep by halftime, because that is generally when, for all intents and purposes, the game is over.

WSR: I think the obvious answer should be the most important founder in all of the B1G: Justin Smith Morrill.

Stew: The first beer of every tailgate for me is either Founder’s Breakfast Stout or KBS. Gotta get the morning off to a good start. Otherwise their Scotch ale, Dirty Bastard, is excellent; as is the barrel aged version, Backwoods Bastard.

BRT: I love Blushing Monk (and forgot to get any when I was in Michigan a few weeks ago, a fact I am still deeply regretting.) Rubaeus is my favorite, although its predecessor Cerise was better. I also had a really good experience with a Mango Jalapeno beer they had once, though it had like a 12% ABV or something dumb, IIRC. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Founders, as it was my first experience with craft beer, and I learned a lot—and it’s not a bad place to cut your teeth on that.

Poll

Favorite Founder?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    Barry Alvarez
    (12 votes)
  • 9%
    Oatmeal Stout
    (11 votes)
  • 2%
    John M. Coulter, whoever that is
    (3 votes)
  • 6%
    Rubaeus
    (8 votes)
  • 10%
    Purdue guy
    (12 votes)
  • 15%
    Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale
    (18 votes)
  • 3%
    Illinois guys
    (4 votes)
  • 1%
    Blushing Monk
    (2 votes)
  • 9%
    Justin Smith Morrill
    (11 votes)
  • 13%
    Breakfast Stout
    (16 votes)
  • 8%
    KBS
    (10 votes)
  • 9%
    Other
    (11 votes)
118 votes total Vote Now

Football

Can Sparty have a top half of the B1G offense and be good? What facet of your team has been constantly infuriating?

MC: No and no. It doesn’t seem like MSU has done much to prevent their scorelines looking like old box scores from when Rutgers was good. Until Dan Tony’O hires someone that has learned about the forward pass I’m expecting more of the same.

Wisconsin’s most infuriating facet of late has been offensive play-calling. It is way too obvious what the play is about to be just by looking at the personnel and/or down and distance alone. 1st and 10? Here comes that run up the gut. Oh Jonathan Taylor is out, should we run the short pass play for an incompletion or the long pass play for a sack? Wisconsin is expecting stronger play from its QBs, so hopefully that inspires more creativity from Chryst’s OC days.

Candystripes: I mean, isn’t that Wisconsin’s formula? Wait, I might be confusing their basketball and football teams. It’s really hard to keep track at this point. Can a top half offense be good? Maybe, but since the Spartan defense has been noticeably less Galaxy Class over the last couple years, it may not be enough.

The facet of my team that has been constantly infuriating is my team. Alternating “no defense” years with “minimal offense” years, failing to finish games against just about every team with any semblance of a pulse, being on the wrong side of multiple absolutely atrocious calls every year and always in big games where the smallest margin of error is often enough to cause the Hoosiers to lose. Oh, and the whole “haven’t beaten Michigan and Ohio State in my lifetime” thing.

MNW: You have piqued my curiosity. To the tables!

Yes, clearly they can. And the decline in the Michigan State offense has to be understood at least, in part, in the decline of the passing game. It’s been a near-steady free-fall in their Passing and Passing Downs S&P+ from 6th/6th in 2014 to 36th/32nd in 2015 to 66th/94th in 2016 to 44th/34th in 2017 to 112th/120th in 2018. It’s been a steady decline in passer rating from Kirk Cousins (career 146.1) to Connor Cook (139.8) to Tyler O’Connor (135.7) to Brian Lewerke (118.1). And that’s doing a massive disservice to Lewerke, but his Y/A is a full yard less (6.4) than O’Connor and 1.5 less than Cook, while he’s been asked to run (or been sacked) so much more than his counterparts.

So tl;dr they can, and I’ll say it’s if they recruit and embrace a more pro-style quarterback and offense.

The Northwestern offensive line has been consistently infuriating, and I hope that changes under new OL coach Kurt Anderson. Failing that, our non-conference performance. Though really, I’d just choose both.

Boilerman31: I mean, I guess anything is possible, just look at MNW’s chart above.

Jesse: I think MNW is on to something with the pass game, but it also overlooks how terrible the running game has gotten in East Lansing. Last year, the Spartans averaged an abysmal 3.49 yards per carry. That would be 119/130 FCS teams, and would be a big problem when trying to open up any semblance of a passing game. It also led to things like “33% on 3rd Down Conversions” and “second fewest plays of 20+ yards in the conference”. What I’m trying to say is that I would think there’s always an opportunity for not being awful as history shows, but it would need a better QB, better RB, and probably better set of WRs. So uh… sure, you do you Sparty.

As for infuriating aspect of Nebraska, did you see us defend a Jet Sweep under Pelini? No? Right, because we did not defend the Jet Sweep. Or uh, the whole defense thing since Pelini in general. Not great.

Thumpasaurus: Michigan State likes to think they’re a running team and they like to emphasize running the ball, but that doesn’t work when their passing game isn’t at least mildly dangerous. The offensive line is the key to both of these things in the Big Ten, however, and it really hasn’t recovered from whatever calamity befell it in 2016. That’s a strange sight with a head coach tenured this long who has produced good offensive lines in the past and I’m not sure how that gets fixed.

The thing about Illinois is that they always have to be bad at something. Sometimes the offense and defense are both terrible. Sometimes, like in 2013 and parts of last year, the offense is decent but the defense is hilarious. Other times, like 2015 or 2011, the defense is phenomenal but the offense can’t move the ball. The one thing that is consistent, however, is that the punt return game has always been, to put it mildly, an adventure. For well over a decade, Illini punt returners have struggled to field the ball to such an extent that I genuinely hope they come out in their base defense every time they force a punt. Oddly enough, I can’t find statistics on muffed punts, but this is absolutely the one defining trait of a Fighting Illini football team. Nebraska fans surely remember punting for first downs on consecutive series when two different returners made the exact same mistake.

*V’Angelo Bentley was some kind of wizard, apparently

So there’s a full half of the last 12 seasons where a player could conceivably gain more punt return yards in one play than Illinois in a season. 7 if you return out of the end zone! I still remember the two touchdowns in this time. V’Angelo Bentley against SIU 2013 and Vontae Davis against Mizzou in 2007. It’s been six years; we’re due for another touchdown!

BrianB2: I don’t see how Michigan State has a reasonable offense this year. You didn’t have a quarterback last year, and it appears you still don’t, please correct me accordingly. And no more LJ Scott, not even a little bit of LJ Scott. College football does have a way of highlighting my intellectual shortcomings however, by never ceasing in its relentless crusade to prove me wrong. So we shall see. Out of all the superior Big 10 East teams that remind me each week of how bad Maryland is, y’all are probably the most tolerable, so best of luck! Then again, Tom Izzo is a constant reminder of how average Mark Turgeon is...so screw you guys.

Other than being a program that sometimes displays a passable attempt at mediocrity, that also is stuck in the best division in football, and thus eternally resides in “maybe we’ll win 6 games this year” purgatory, what could possibly be infuriating when it comes to Maryland football? I hate to be trite, but legitimately, the only thing that truly frustrates me is our quarterback’s knees and their inability to stay in an upright, human position. Getting our doors blown off by Michigan, Penn State and Ohio State is a reality that I have come to accept. It is not like we were world beaters in the ACC, so I didn’t come into this thinking we would compete with those teams anyway (will one of y’all PLEASE hire Brady Hoke, thanks), but the endless parade of injuries to key skill positions is a tougher pill to swallow. If Kasim Hill was healthy for Penn State two years ago, we probably only woulda lost like….56-13, so just think about that Nittany faithful!

WSR: No. There are too many other teams that have both weapons on offense and coaches that aren’t stuck in the Middle Paleolithic/Harbaugh era in regards to schemes. I think a more realistic goal for Sparty should be a Top 10 finish. GOOD LUCK!

And for me, there was no one era of one-sided football that more defined the Gophers than Grinnin’ Glen. Surprisingly, if you base your entire team around a world-class ground game and completely ignore every other facet of the game (defense, special teams, passing game) you will be found out and have a ceiling. Fuck you, Glen. Every time I have the misfortune of being exposed to you on BTN I mute the game and dream of the smooth tones of Beth Mowins replacing you and your inept, incompetent ass. My dog shits out better thoughts on defensive football than anything that ever exits your mouth and I cringe every time anyone mentions that we shouldn’t have fired your worthless ass.

Stew: That’s a lot of words up there. Yes, they probably CAN...but no, they probably won’t. Javon Ringer isn’t walking through that door. Kork Coupons isn’t walking through that door. And you WILL establish the run.

As for Iowa, it’s Kirk’s absolute dogmatic adherence to the zone running game. IT’S NOT IT’S OWN CONSTRAINT PLAY, GODDAMMIT! EVERYONE KNOWS YOU’RE GOING TO RUN AN OUTSIDE ZONE TO THE SHORT SIDE ON 3RD AND 4!! THEY’RE GOING TO CHEAT AND CUT OFF THE CUT BACK WHILE OVERLOADING THE LBS TO THE SHORT SIDE! YOU’RE PLAYING 5 INTO 8, IT’S GOING TO FAIL!!

Beez: MSU can absoultely be in the top half offensively of a pretty bad offensive conference. They won’t, though, because Dantonio and lack of talent on offense.

Wisconsin’s most infuriating thing is what MC already touched on: formulaic playcalling. 1st down, run. 2nd down, run. 3rd down, pass. I know there are stats about this, but I’d bet run-run-pass is the Wisconsin move on 80%+ of offensive possessions.

BRT: Seems unlikely. And I don’t think Nebraska’s most infuriating aspect is a great surprise—that would be Lil’ Red, of course.

Oh, and the defense. It’s been bad for awhile now.

Poll

Can Sparty field an offense that finishes in the top half of the Big Ten?

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    Yes
    (37 votes)
  • 54%
    No
    (74 votes)
  • 18%
    Maybe so
    (26 votes)
137 votes total Vote Now