Michigan State Coaching Staff Must Improve Decision Making

By Erik Sargent
Michigan State Football
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Tough losses come all of the time in the game of college football. These losses are tough to swallow and leave fans feeling one one play or call could have changed the outcome of the game.

For the Michigan State Spartans, they suffered another one of those heartbreaking losses Saturday against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, losing 17-13.

It adds to the growing list of games for the Spartans in the last two seasons which has seen them lose by four points or less. These close, low scoring games are starting to take a toll on the team, the coaches, and the fans.

For the loss on Saturday, though, there are many things fans want to point to as why the team lost. Some will look to penalties and some will look to the offense, but people should look at the people in charge: the coaching staff.

Head coach Mark Dantonio and staff have been among the best in college football since they arrived in East Lansing in 2007, but the loss on Saturday left many questioning the overall decision making from the staff.

The first aspect of the game to put into question was the offensive play calling. The Spartans continuously ran short, intermediate routes that result in three to six yard gains. These routes are especially called on third downs, which can be attributed to the Spartans’ low third down conversion rate. Shots down field are a must if you want to score points, and the Spartans aren’t taking many.

Secondly, the play calling in critical situations must improve. Numerous times the Spartans were pounding the ball effectively, only to call an inexplicable play that would kill the drive. For example, running a half back pass with a true freshman which resulted in an interception. You can’t call that play in a tough game, especially moving the ball.

Another serious coaching decision was the choice to take Connor Cook out on the last drive of the game and replace him with Andrew Maxwell. Cook was not injured, and the coaches said they felt they needed a change of pace.

That isn’t fair to Cook and certainly isn’t fair to Andrew Maxwell. Maxwell came in, and the Spartans turned it over in four downs and ultimately lost the game. That is a really good way to shatter the confidence of Cook and lose the trust of your team.

There is still a lot of season left for the Spartans, and for the most part, their goals are still in front of them. But for a coaching staff who has been complimented on their great decision making, it hasn’t been so great as of late and must be fixed if this team wants to make noise.

Erik Sargent is a college football writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Erik_Sargent, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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