The Michigan State Spartans football team will open its season against the Western Michigan Broncos this Friday night under the lights. The Spartans are looking to redeem themselves from a lackluster season in 2012 that saw them go just 7-6 overall and only 3-5 in Big Ten Conference play.
There were many points of emphasis that have been put into this offseason. Head coach Mark Dantonio has been preaching about finding more playmakers on both sides of the ball as well as improved consistency, particularly at the quarterback and wide receiver positions.
For Spartan fans, there are some key things to watch for when the team takes the field. First and foremost, how will Andrew Maxwell respond? After heavy criticism and not being named the starter until this week, it will be interesting to see where Maxwell’s head is and if he is able to come out and show command of the offense.
Another important thing to look for on the offensive side of the ball will be the running game overall. Although Le’Veon Bell had a great statistical season, overall the Spartans only finished eighth in the conference in rushing. This has to drastically improve in order for the Spartans to contend for championships.
The Spartans have a host of inexperienced but talented running backs, and the same can be said for the offensive line. It will be important for the line to get a good push off the line of scrimmage and create lanes for the backs.
On the defensive side of the ball, while the unit is one of the best in the entire country, they need to work on getting to the quarterback. Although the defense hardly gave up any yards last season, they were 11th in the conference in sacks, only registering 20 on the season. Defensive ends Marcus Rush and Shilique Calhoun as well as linebacker Denicos Allen need to find ways to cause havoc in the backfield in order to take pressure off the offense.
The Spartans shouldn’t have any trouble with the Broncos come Friday night, but they must work on the little details and fine points of the game so they are ready for a tough Big Ten season.