With Michigan State‘s home opener in the rear view mirror, there was a lot to take away from the close victory against a usually-potent Boise State offensive team.
The Spartans handed Boise State’s Chris Petersen only his seventh loss as the head coach of the Broncos. He is now an unbelievable 73-7 for a school that emerged as the Cinderella team of the decade after he took over.
Here is what we all learned about Michigan State after sneaking past Boise State in the first week of the season.
Le’Veon Bell will be an early Heisman candidate
If you didn’t see the game live, you could have turned on any sports network and seen replays of Le’Veon Bell‘s elusive running attack. He was hurdling over defenders, spinning out of tackles and reversing field to pick up big gains. Did I mention he scored the Spartans’ only touchdowns?
Bell had 44 carries for a remarkable 210 yards against a solid Boise team. Along with his 44 carries, he caught the ball six times for 55 yards. He no doubt solidified himself on the early season Heisman watch list. Bell will have an easier test next Saturday against the Central Michigan Chippewas, a team not known for defense. If first-year starting quarterback Andrew Maxwell struggles, look for him to carry the load for the Spartans once again.
Andrew Maxwell has plenty of room for improvement
Michigan State lost three-year starter and captain Kirk Cousins going into the season and hoped junior Andrew Maxwell would adequately fill the void. Maxwell got his first crack at it on Friday night, showcasing his strong arm, but also some inaccuracy.
He got off to a slower start than expected, throwing the ball all over the field, missing his targets regularly. He threw three interceptions, two of which could have been the receivers fault, but won’t show up on the stat sheet as such. Much of his struggles were first game jitters along with the fact that he was constantly escaping pressure and leaving the pocket due to poor pass blocking.
When his receivers get a little more experience and his lineman get more comfortable with him, he will make sure Spartan fans won’t feel the effects of losing Cousins.
Defense is dominant once again
The defense, led by junior defensive end William Gholston and senior cornerback Johnny Adams, showed the country why they are so hyped up.
The Spartan defense allowed just 206 total yards and gave up no touchdowns. The only touchdown of the game was an interception return off of a tipped pass by Boise State’s Jeremy Ioane. Holding a team that is used to putting up big numbers in opening games against highly ranked teams to no offensive touchdowns is a feat that has to impress everyone.
If the Spartans want a shot to get back to the Big Ten title game, the defense will have to play the way they did against Boise. The offense may struggle for the first few games, but the defense has shown signs of dominance and it will continue this week against Central Michigan.