MSU Loss To NU - Quick Takeaways

MSU Loss To NU - Quick Takeaways

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MSU Loss To NU - Quick Takeaways

In examining Michigan State’s 29-19 home loss to Northwestern, SpartansWire starts to unpack the mess and identifies some quick takeaways.

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The Spartans offensive line is struggling for any number of reasons and those struggles continue to lead to the inability to gain a yard when a yard is needed.

The injuries make the Spartans look and feel like a triage unit.

The pass defense is miles away from being formidable.

Brian Lewerke hasn’t really even tried to attack with his legs and while some of his numbers are good, it’s not unfair to say that he hasn’t taken a lot of the forward steps everyone thought he would this season.

But what are three other, perhaps simpler takeaways from Michigan State’s ugly 29-19 loss at home to Northwestern?

SpartansWire has three fairly major, fairly simple takeaways for consideration:

TOUGHNESS LACKING ON OFFENSIVE LINE

Yes, the injuries are pretty extreme and no player’s toughness is being called into question with regard to the actual injuries that have been sustained.

However, it’s fair to suggest that this offensive line lacks a toughness trait that, no matter what the stats have been in the past, has usually been something which Michigan State could rely on.

When it’s 4th and 1 from your own 11-yard line and the head coach says, “We’re gonna go for it, we’re gonna get this yard because we simply need it and we can and should get it and then we’re going to march down the field and win this game…” and you don’t gain the yard, it’s fair to suggest that it boils down to a simple, old fashioned football thing.

Toughness.

TOUGHNESS LACKING IN PASS DEFENSE

Toughness isn’t just about blowing the guy across from you off the line of scrimmage.

Toughness is also about knowing assignments, committing to disciplined coverage, making open field tackles when they need to be made, and simply stopping an opposing offense that has done the same thing to you for years.

Clayton Thorson deserves all of the credit in the world for being able to throw for 373 and 3 touchdowns.

Thorson is a veteran who knows how to win – and he especially knows how to beat Michigan State.

At what point does the defense – particularly the secondary – hike up the pants and get as tough as possible and just commit themselves to shutting down a guy?

It’s not as if Thorson is a mystery to Michigan State.

Is he really so good that he can torch the Spartans three straight years and have three straight wins over Michigan State?

Does the Michigan State secondary have the toughness necessary to get better against an opponent that’s dominated with a straightforward scheme for three straight years now?

TOUGHNESS LACKING IN OVERALL LEADERSHIP

Perhaps the biggest “issue” facing this team is one that doesn’t show up on any of the stat lines yet contributes substantially to the team’s inability to develop and find an identity, the team’s inability to get the short yards when they’re needed, the team’s inability to “find the inches,” the team’s inability to be productive in the fourth quarter, and the team’s inability to fight through the many challenges that are mounting.

From this perspective, it seems as if there might be some issues related to leadership.

We noted earlier in the season that the void left by Chris Frey and Brian Allen meant there were/are big shoes to fill –

https://spartanswire.com/2018/08/16/chris-frey-left-a-void-a-collection-of-spartans-will-fill-it/

Chris Frey and Brian Allen might go down as the most important captains of the Dantonio Era.

Whatever it was that they did, it worked.

And the toughness they exhibited all throughout the season last year seemed to be contagious – whether members of the team wanted it to be contagious or not.

This isn’t meant to denigrate the character of the leaders on this year’s Spartans – character and toughness are two very different things.

But sometimes toughness becomes as essential as anything else when it comes to the success of a football team.

A tough leader might be able to simply look at a teammate and demonstrate tough leadership that conveys the necessary messaging to, for instance, be able to gain a yard when necessary.

There are tough guys all over the Spartan roster – there isn’t any disputing that.

It’s entirely possible that I’m way off here – but it seems as if there could be more tough leadership that can let it be known that failing to gain a yard is simply unacceptable within the walls of the Spartan football program.

FINAL TAKEAWAY 

If you’ve been reading somewhat closely, you might notice there is a theme here.

From the perspective of this ignorant typewriter, it seems as if Michigan State needs to recognize that the toughness quotient needs to increase.

Substantially.

This applies to every aspect of the program right now.

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