Central Michigan at Michigan State - 3 Things To Watch For

Central Michigan at Michigan State - 3 Things To Watch For

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Central Michigan at Michigan State - 3 Things To Watch For

We’ve provided our game analysis and prediction for the Spartans’ matchup with Central Michigan on Saturday.  But what are the three most important things that Spartan fans should be focused on as Michigan State works to get to 3-1 on the season?

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We know – Michigan State needs to get its running game going.

At this point, the thread on the Twitter that contains everyone supplying expert analyses, critiques, demands, and excoriations regarding the Michigan State rushing attack’s inability to dominate is as long and as dramatic as the threads on the Twitter about whatever it is that I’m hearing from people about something related to a bit of confusion and disagreement over an open seat on the Supreme Court.

Michigan State’s running game – or lack thereof – is, of course, more important than whatever the misunderstandings are over at the United States Senate and the conversations taking place on television shows hosted by really, really smart people about the Supreme Court things.

So if we’re going to lay out a list of three things for Spartan fans to keep their eyes on during Saturday’s game against Central Michigan, let’s just not even include “the running game” since we all know it’s important.

And it’s worth noting that in our game analysis and game prediction, we stated with confidence that the running game is going to get going, it’s going to find a rhythm, and it’s going to demonstrate that it’s going to be present and will improve from week to week for the remainder of the season.

https://spartanswire.com/2018/09/27/central-michigan-at-michigan-state-game-prediction/

So, what are THE THREE THINGS that Spartan fans will need to keep a close eye on during Saturday’s ball game at Spartan Stadium?

BRIAN LEWERKE – ACCURACY ON SHORT ROUTES, EFFICIENCY, ERROR-FREE FOOTBALL.

Brian Lewerke is sort of “suffering” from the burden of expectations.

That points to the fact that he’s a damn good quarterback and just about everyone sees that he can become a truly great quarterback.

There are plenty of folks who think that he should have already won the Heisman Trophy and that he already should have secured a spot for Michigan State in the College Football Playoff.

Those people are probably the people who are very sure about the elusive answers related whatever the misunderstandings might be within the discussions going on about the Supreme Court things.

Lewerke has made some poor decisions and one or two of them have had direct impacts on the ways in which ball games have gone for the Spartans.

Nobody knows more than Lewerke that if he either makes a more accurate throw into the endzone against Arizona State so that the ball isn’t tipped around and intercepted OR if he simply chucks the ball out of bounds, Michigan State probably would be 3-0 right now, ranked around 12th or 13th and much of the handwringing would be about things having to do with tailgate music playlists rather than “lamentable” problems that MUST BE FIXED.

On Saturday, Brian Lewerke has a terrific opportunity to show that he’s the guy everyone knows he can be, everyone wants him to be, and that he can be that guy for the rest of this season in ways that will lead the Spartans right to the doorstep of the Big Ten Championship game.

Through three games, Lewerke is 64 of 97 – that’s a pretty nifty 66%.  Spartans would take a 66% out of Lewerke all day and all season long.

He’s amassed 814 yards of offense through the air.

He’s thrown for 5 touchdowns.

Really, there’s only one element of his game that is open for some well-intentioned critiques – his decision-making with regard to throws that might be forced into coverage.

He’s thrown 4 interceptions and each of them have felt a little bit like he’s forced the throw into an area where there seemed to have been some traffic that could have been avoided.

He’s trying to make plays.

He’s trying to do great things.

Maybe – and it’s easy for me to say this while I type my brilliance onto my typewriter as he practices – he could take a deep breath, recognize that he’s throwing at a 66% completion rate, and that he can sometimes let the game come to him.

He’s missed a few opportunities on shorter routes – the overthrow to Matt Dotson in the endzone at Indiana comes to mind.

But he sure did make up for that overthrow on the very next play when he found Dotson with an NFL throw to get a touchdown that capped a picture-perfect two-minute drill drive at the end of the first half.

Against Central Michigan, seeing Lewerke connect on the short routes regularly will be a sign that all is just fine with his arm and his accuracy (as his 66% rate suggests).

Can he also be efficient and play error-free football?

Some fumbles have been due to, once again, him trying to make plays.

It’s time for us to see him not make that ill-advised pitch against Indiana that resulted in a fumble and, instead, just take the loss on the play and live to fight another day on the next play.

Error-free football out of the Spartans field general – that’s as important as anything else in this game.

PASS DEFENSE – TIME TO GET THIS GOING

Michigan State has far too much talent in the secondary, within the linebacking unit, and along the defensive front to allow the yards its allowed through three games.

The pass rush appeared to come to life against the Hoosiers – the four sack total was officially upped to five in the post analysis.

That’s the most sacks the Spartans have had in a game since 2015.

Those guys appear to be getting into gear.

Time for the secondary to clamp down, lock down, and get down.

Central Michigan does not have a powerfully potent air attack.

Shut these guys down and let everyone know that the worries about the pass defense are understood and that the improvement and eventual dominance is very much in process.

DISCIPLINE – CUT DOWN ON PENALTIES, CLEAN THE WHOLE THING UP

I used to say to people during the George Perles Era, “At the start of every Spartan game, the officials should just immediately penalize Michigan State for three personal fouls since there will be at least three personal fouls that will occur at the most inappropriate times and will have direct impacts on the outcome of the game.”

It’s okay – and, in fact, necessary – to coach up a team to get out there with a nasty and mean attitude that leads to an aggressive approach to taking it to the opponent properly.

And with that attitude and philosophy, there will be some spillage in the way of an occasional personal foul.

But the sloppy way in which Michigan State has played through three games feels as if it’s going to be a permanent part of this team’s fight all season long.

That has to change.

This team cannot win the Big Ten East if it commits eight penalties for 72 yards every Saturday.

This is about discipline and focus and has far more to do with “simple” concentration rather than execution or talent.

The talent level up and down this roster – whether it’s on the offensive line or in the secondary – is just too high to have the penalties that end up derailing drives.

This one’s pretty simple – focus, concentrate, know your specific assignment and how it needs to be executed, line up properly, and don’t commit silly penalties.

These are the three most important things for Spartans to keep their eyes on throughout Michigan State’s contest with Central Michigan at Spartan Stadium on Saturday.

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