We’ve provided readers with notes and thoughts on the Arizona State defense and offense in preparation for Saturday night’s game against the Sun Devils. Now, what are three things we think will happen when Michigan State attempts to go 2-0 on the young season?
We’ve all had a chance to catch our breath after a season opener that caused far too much anxiety and nerve-elixir-consumption.
And, when all is said and done, the facts are the facts – Michigan State beat Utah State 38-31and enters Week 2 with a record of 1-0.
Everything is still very much on the table for the Michigan State Spartans.
Aint nothin gonna change any of that.
Causes for middle-of-the-night cold-sweats for Spartans have included, among other things:
- Giving up 319 yards through the air to Jordan Love and the Utah State Aggies.
- Flexing ground game muscles that didn’t warrant the word “muscles” but rather the term “anemic passivity.”
- Committing enough un-Spartan-like penalties to have John L flashbacks.
- Showing a fear of the endzone when inside the ten yard line.
Can Michigan State ally the fears of Spartan fans by eschewing the anemic passivity and replacing it with actual muscles that can lead to a powerful ground game?
Can the Michigan State defense – particularly the secondary – clamp down and not treat the opposing receivers and quarterback as if they’re cherished house guests over for a cozy stay during Thanksgiving weekend?
Can the Spartans eliminate unforced errors that make me think of my season-long performance at shortstop for the New Trier Trevians in 1989 whereby I set an all-time record for errors made by a shortstop in the history of the school’s varsity baseball club?
Here is some speculative speculation in response to the questions I’ve asked myself above:
GOODBYE ANEMIC PASSIVITY
I get the sense that the offensive line’s meeting room has been intense, quiet, and without much chit chat related to late night Fortnite competitions this week.
I also get the sense that the offensive line unit as a whole – players, coaches, blocking sleds – has been focused and potentially ornery on the practice field this week.
I get the sense that LJ Scott is happy about the fact that Connor Heyward showed some very real flashes of greatness Friday night but that LJ is thinking to himself, “What’d I end up with – 80-something yards? No scores? I didn’t come back here to prance around and pile up for parking tickets – we’re gonna get this thing going this Saturday night…”
I also get the sense that the offensive line maybe has had a few questions pertaining to its collective testosterone levels asked of it by senior members of the football program this week.
For all of the talk – much of it coming from right here – about the tough challenge of heading out to the desert for a very tricky road game against a team that can’t be taken lightly, Arizona State’s defense should not be viewed by the Spartans as an imposing one.
The Sun Devils lost their team’s top four tacklers from a year ago and their front seven wouldn’t overshadow too many Big Ten interior fronts.
Time for the Spartan offensive line to find its big boy pants, hike them up, and punish a defense that should be punished.
PREDICTION: Michigan State will rush for 200 yards on Saturday night and LJ Scott will have two scores to go along with a 125 yard night.
GREETINGS, NO FLY ZONE
Arizona State has a veteran quarterback in Manny Wilkins.
The senior piled up impressive numbers last season – he completed 63% of his passes, gained 3,270 yards through the air, and had 20 touchdowns against only 8 interceptions.
And he has two studs that are dangerous in 6’4″, 213 pound N’Keal Harry (82 receptions for 1,142 yards and 8 touchdowns last season) and 5’11”, 182 pound speedster Kyle Williams (66 catches for 763 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2017).
N’Keal Harry is already off to a season that will be full of highlights – he opened things up against UTSA this past week with 6 catches for 140 yards ad two touchdowns.
This guy, Harry, is dangerous in every way.
And here’s the thing about that – Michigan State knows this and the approach ASU takes in getting the ball to this guy is less of a Utah State sort of approach and more of a traditional approach that a man like Herm Edwards would want to apply.
And that’s good news for Michigan State fans.
Go ahead and bring a tall, fast, rangy receiver at the Spartan defense – a guy that every Spartan respects and even fears.
That’s when the No Fy Zone can apply a week’s worth of lock-down focus and commitment to defensive responsibilities.
PREDICTION: N’Keal Harry doesn’t surpass 100 yards receiving and the Spartan defense holds Arizona State to less than 225 yards in the air.
Michigan State committed 9 penalties for 62 yards in the season opener against Utah State.
Two of these penalties came with the Spartans on the verge of punching it into the endzone – one of them negated a touchdown run by LJ Scott.
Call it first game jitters, first game sloppiness, or first game nonsense – whatever it’s called, it stunk.
And it’ll be cleaned up this week.
I get the sense that eliminating unnecessary errors will be an area of focus this week.
And I get the sense that with the intensity of this game’s overall dynamic recognized by everyone within the program, the in-game focus will be there.
PREDICTION: Michigan State will commit less than five penalties on Saturday night.