Morrissey Doing More Than Carrying On Family Tradition

Morrissey Doing More Than Carrying On Family Tradition

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Morrissey Doing More Than Carrying On Family Tradition

Michigan State veteran Matt Morrissey has been a key contributor to the Spartan defense ever since he arrived on campus. He’s going to be a key part of the Spartan defense’s improvement through the rest of the season.

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On October 6th, 1984, Michigan State stomped all over the UMAA Stadium turf en route to what was an earth-shattering 19-7 victory for the Spartans.

Bobby Morse punctuated the victory by memorably taking a punt and romping 87 yards to the endzone, straight into the mass of delirious Spartans in that end of the stadium.

I was in that end of the stadium that day.

My mother – the 1959 Michigan State graduate and Duffy Daugherty acolyte – was dressed in Green & White from head to toe and when Morse completed his lunge into the endzone, the Spartan lunatics all around us hoisted my mother up in the air and poured lots of refreshments from tiny containers into her mouth while they all laughed and sang.

I didn’t quite know what to think of it all – but I knew I liked it because it was fun and pretty funny.

Even my father and his pals laughed in that moment.

Less appreciated but no less important in that game was a moment when UMAA’s sophomore starting quarterback, Jim Harbaugh, went for a loose ball after a muffled handoff and a mad scrum for the pigskin ensued on the cement carpet of the rather quiet stadium.

When Harbaugh went for the ball, so did Michigan State linebacker Jim Morrissey and a few other Spartans.

Morrissey and the Spartans got the best of the collision.

Harbaugh left the game with a broken arm and didn’t return for the rest of the season.

Jim Morrissey didn’t just have a sensational career as a linebacker for Michigan State, he was selected by the Chicago Bears in the 11th round of the 1985 NFL Draft.

Morrissey was a significant contributor to one of the greatest teams in the history of the NFL and won a Super Bowl ring with that 1985 Bears squad.

Morrissey’s legacy at Michigan State is a strong one, made all the stronger by his son, Matt.

Matt Morrissey is the 6’3″, 211 pound fifth-year senior safety for the Spartans who has been a key contributor to so many gigantic moments since he walked on to the campus his father walked through many years ago.

Here are just a few of Morrissey’s vitals –

  • Fifth-year senior and three-year letter-winner
  • Has 60 tackles in 35 career games with four starts.
  • Member of the team’s Eagles leadership council.
  • Three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection

And in Saturday night’s 35-21 win over Indiana in Bloomington, Morrissey was a great example of how the Spartan defense is finding ways to evolve and improve as this season progresses.

In a schematic effort to help the defense shore up its challenges related to linebackers having a tough time with running backs coming out of the backfield as receivers, Mike Tressel and Mark Dantonio integrated Morrissey into the weak side linebacker spot in third-down passing situations.

It worked.

Morrissey is as versatile of a player the Spartans have on defense.

He’s played linebacker as well as safety and he has the size and the speed to go along with the experience necessary to play tough as a linebacker while providing very capable coverage skills.

When Morrissey picked off Arizona State’s Manny Wilkins at the end of the first half in Tempe, the play was not only critical at the time, it was athletic and smart since Morrissey had correctly and effectively dropped right into the part of the zone where someone in Green and White needed to be.

Regarding the use of Morrissey in the third-down situations Saturday night against Indiana, Dantonio said, “It’s basically like having dime in the game.  He played there last year, so he knows the position. … With the guys that (Indiana) put at running back, when they want to throw the ball (they) are free-release and go down the field. We wanted to at least be able to have a cover guy in there that takes the edge off some of our coverage stuff.”

Morrissey aided in Michigan State’s ability to keep the Hoosiers from converting “big plays.”

Indiana had only one play that went for more than 20 yards – the 65-yard touchdown strike quarterback Peyton Ramsey had when he connected with Whop Philyor.

Morrissey’s presence on the field has always been a plus for the Spartans and as the defense begins to really attack the issues that have led to the pass defense being 125th in the nation, expect to see Morrissey out on the field in more situations, particularly on passing downs.

This move with Morrissey is one, not-so-small example of how this coaching staff is always looking for the best ways to improve the areas of the team that need it.

It’s a process that happens over the entire course of the season.

The defense stands a good chance of continuing to show the improvement it made against Indiana with the coaching staff continuing to find these types of schematic enhancements.

Look for the veteran Spartan, Matt Morrissey, to be a key player for the remainder of this season as he and his teammates continue to fight for a Big Ten Championship.

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