Entering Week 2, there has been quite a bit of chatter surrounding the Michigan State football program since their season-opening 26-13 victory over the Western Michigan Broncos. The problem with all of that talk is that virtually none of it has been good.
There is no way of sugar coating what happened; the offense was horrendous, while the defense was outstanding. Despite the phenomenal defensive play, all the talk has been about the offensive woes, particularly with the quarterbacks and the wide receivers.
People can sit there and debate who should be playing where, but at the end of the day, the players there are the players that are going to play and they flat out need to play better.
The Spartans will face off with the South Florida Bulls, who are coming off an extremely embarrassing 53-21 loss to FCS opponent McNeese State. With both teams coming off rough season openers, both should come out with a bit more motivation, trying to show the nation they aren’t a joke.
Here’s some things to look for and areas of improvement for the Spartans.
The team passed for just 116 yards in Week 1, which has to drastically improve. It needs to be a combined effort for the Spartans, as the receivers struggled making catches and the quarterbacks struggled getting the ball to them.
Everyone is voicing their opinion for true freshman Damion Terry to play, but it isn’t going to happen. Andrew Maxwell is the guy and he is going to play the whole season. In order for his confidence and play in to improve, the running game needs to be effective and playmakers need to bail him out.
The team rushed for a modest 181 yards, with Jeremy Langford leading the squad with 94 yards and a touchdown. In his first career start, Langford looked comfortable making his reads and cuts and fighting for extra yards. As the offensive line gets more comfortable, his stats will improve.
The team completed just 26.32% of their third downs in their opener, which has to improve to be able to sustain drives. Mike Sadler, who may as well be the MVP of the first game, had an outrageous 11 punts. That cannot happen in any football game if a team plans on winning. The only positive statistic from Friday was the team went 100% in the red zone.
There isn’t much to say about the defense other than they are amazing. This is a legitimate, National Championship-caliber squad and that cannot be argued. They just need some help from the offense to take this team where it needs to be.
The team only gave up 204 total yards of offense against Western, registered four turnovers, totaled five sacks and only allowed Western a 20% third down conversion rate. Those are mind-boggling numbers, and they will only get better as the veterans get settled in and the young players get more game reps.
South Florida hasn’t been very good in a very long time, and in head coach Willy Taggert’s first season, it doesn’t look very good for the Bulls.
The Spartans should have zero trouble stopping this Bulls offense on Saturday, and for a team that gave up 424 yards of offense to McNeese State, can the Spartans move the ball on offense?
In theory, yes they can. But as we saw against Western, you just never know with this quarterback. One thing to remember is South Florida has former Notre Dame defensive end Aaron Lynch, who as a freshman in 2011, absolutely dominated the Spartan offensive line, so he’s a player to keep an eye on.
Whether it’s Maxwell, Connor Cook, Tyler O’Connor or even Damion Terry (not likely), the quarterback play, as well as the receivers, must pick up their game and save this team from embarrassment.