Michigan State’s deflating 9-6 loss to Nebraska makes it no longer debatable – the program needs to seriously examine the offensive philosophy, schemes, execution, and overall approach.
Michigan State lost to Nebraska 9-6 on Saturday in Lincoln amid frigid temperatures, swirling winds, and a pretty consistent snowfall that all contributed to a challenging afternoon for offensive output.
However, the loss – which puts Michigan State at 6-5, 4-4 in a season that had the highest of expectations in August – only made the team’s offensive woes more apparent than they already were.
And the offensive woes were already extremely apparent.
Spartan fans have waited all season for the offense to find a momentum.
They will have to wait until September of 2019.
Mark Dantonio made a smart decision in going with Rocky Lombardi at quarterback throughout the entire game against the Huskers.
We’ve advocated for a strategy that gives Brian Lewerke the physical and mental breather he may need for the remainder of this season while providing Lombardi with experience that may pay dividends down the road.
However, even with the challenges of the elements present all afternoon, the Spartans were unable to move the ball effectively, fully capitalize on the few opportunities that were earned, and generate enough to get a 7th win for the season.
Rocky Lombardi was 15 for 41 for 146 yards and had an interception.
The ground game actually had a little bit of pop and Connor Heyward demonstrated some muscle and power throughout the course of the ball game.
Heyward finished with pretty strong numbers and was largely responsible for all of Michigan State’s offensive productivity – he ran for 80 yards on 21 carries and added 78 receiving yards on 5 receptions.
Heyward has grown throughout the season and may have the potential to be a weapon in 2019 – particularly if a smart approach to utilizing him and LJ Scott is executed.
In Saturday’s loss, Michigan State even managed to have a fairly decent afternoon on 3rd down in going 9 for 20.
The Spartans owned the all-important time of possession battle that we’ve touted all season as being so essential to Michigan State’s approach – MSU held the ball for 34:39 compared to Nebraska’s 25:21.
And yet the bottom line is that Michigan State finds itself owning a 6-5 overall record after the 9-6 loss.
With the home finale against Rutgers up next, it’s fair, after 11 games, to say that the Spartan offense has, for the most part, kept this team from being able to appropriately compete in the way it should have throughout the season.
Yes, the injuries have been extremely challenging and certainly have impacted the team’s ability to live up to the expectations.
But, the realities of the offense have, over what is just about a full season now, painted a picture of a unit that probably needs to be reexamined in all ways.
Thanks to so many key contributors who will return next season, there is every reason to believe that this defense can equal this season’s performance and put the Spartan in good position.
However, if Michigan State is to challenge for the Big Ten Championship next season in the way all expected it to this season, the offense has to evolve and be reconsidered from top to bottom.