5 Michigan State Players Who Need to Step Up Against Ohio State
Michigan State Football: 5 Players Who Need to Step Up Saturday
Michigan State(3-1) has had an up and down start to the 2012 season that has included a close victory, a blowout victory, a crushing loss to an old rival and an underachieving performance against a lesser opponent.
The Spartans face opposite division foe Ohio State(4-0) this weekend in East Lansing and could have a serious impact on the final standings of each division even though the Buckeyes currently face a postseason ban.
Michigan State has looked to some players to step up in the past few weeks and those players haven't quite performed the way they were expected to. The Spartans are one of the conference's top teams and they expect nothing less than the Rose Bowl this season after missing out on the coveted bowl by just one game in the past two seasons.
Andrew Maxwell has been one of the more interesting stories in the young season. He has been called upon to fill the shoes of former captain and current Washington Redskin's quarterback, Kirk Cousins. The result so far: not so good. Maxwell has received the brunt of the criticisms that the offense has gotten and has handled the criticism well to this point. Last week he completed 16 of 29 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown, with his main target being tight end Dion Sims.
He will need to play much better than that this week against a more solid Ohio State defense. The offense depends on him.
The third-year starter is looked at as one of the best cornerbacks in college football and a potential first-round draft pick in next year's NFL Draft. The Akron native has recorded 12 tackles and leads the team with four pass break-ups to go along with an interception. Johnny Adams is well off his pace from a year ago in which he recorded a career-high 51 tackles. He will need to improve on his pedestrian numbers through the first few games and slow down Braxton Miller and the unproven Ohio State receivers.
The sophomore running back has struggled to get his game off the ground so far this season. He has been the punt returner and kick returner for the Spartans for the past to seasons. He has struggled to get into the open field where he's at his best and fumbled the ball last week after calling for a fair catch. He was then replaced be Le'Veon Bell at punt returner, but looks to have his spot back for Saturday's game. He will need to produce or he may lose his spot for good.
Bennie Fowler was supposed to be the clear No. 1 receiver for the Spartans this season and so far he hasn't performed as such. He has had 16 catches for 195 yards this season and has had inconsistent performances throughout. He has yet to record any big plays this season, outside of a 37-yard reception in week two against Central Michigan. He will have to improve his route running this week in order to ensure Maxwell gains confidence and they can finally throw him a long ball, something the Spartans desperately need to get going.
William Gholston is a solid 6-foot-7, 278-pounds of muscle and he is in need of a big game. He recorded no tackles in the first game of the season against Boise State and just two last week against one of the weaker teams in the FBS, although he did miss the first half of the game. If he can't dominate an offensive line like Eastern Michigan, he will have trouble against teams like Ohio State in Big Ten play, but he has proved he can dominate.
Gholston has just 14 tackles through the first four games this season, well off the pace from his numbers from a season ago in which he recorded 70 tackles. If he can prove his dominance once again, he will be a first-round draft pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.