Observations on the 4th loss in a row to the Spartans, 14-28!
Michigan State completely dominates the second half on both sides of the ball, and scores 7 points off a Denard Robinson turnover. Michigan was stopped twice with zero points of two Spartan Turnovers. Michigan State converts three red zones into 21 points; Michigan only converts two red zones into 7 points. The Spartans kept their cool and were poised even when they turned the ball over, but we played with a lack of poise and composure that led to our undoing in this one.
Denard Robinson self-destructed with a 4th quarter 39 yard TD interception by Isaiah Lewis as the game was on the line, and a chance to tie the game with 4:31 to go. Robinson was sacked 4 times and was 9 of 24 for only 123 yards; he couldn't handle the corner blitz. Robinson only gained 42 yards in 18 carries. We only mustered 250 yards of total offense, 20 first downs and were 5 of 19 in 3rd and 4th down conversions. Kudos to the Spartans! They sacked Robinson 4 times and Gardner 3 times for 7 total sacks, forced both our quarterbacks into poor decisions with hurries, hits, sacks while dominating our offensive line. The stoned our running game into only 82 yards of net rushing. 12 possessions, a TD to start the game, 7 punts in a row, a 4th quarter TD, a red zone stop on 4th and incches, a 4th quarter interception and final 4th quarter drive ending on 4th down stop. They deserved the win! 4 losses in a row is hard to (gulp) swallow; still, they deserved all four wins. Chris Norman had 10 tackles, Max Bullough had 8 tackles and a forced fumble and Denicos Allen had 7 tackles including 2 sacks to lead the Michigan State defense. Time of possession was about even in this one (one minute advantage for MSU); the Spartans made the most of their opportunities, and we didn't take advantage of our red zones or turnover chances.
Defense did force two second half turnovers, and forced the Spartans into 5 punts and three three and outs. They did not lose the game, but they couldn’t stop the Spartans in the red zone when they needed to. Defense allowed the Spartans 314 yards of total offense including 213 on the ground. They could not stop the Spartan running game. Edwin Baker ran up 167 yards on 26 carries for a TD. Kirk Cousins was 13 of 24 for 120 yards and 2 TDs to Keshawn Martin. Thomas Gordon led the defense with 8 tackles and a forced fumble. J.T. Floyd forced the other fumble. I don't think our linebacking corps had a very good game; Brandin Hawthorne wasn't involved in many plays, and neither were Demens or Ryan. Demens had 5 tackles, Hawthorne 3 and Ryan zero; 8 from our linebackers wasn't enough. I really enjoy Spielman's commentary especially about keeping the head up when we tackle; apparently, we need to continue to coach up our players in this regard.
Special teams did a good job in giving us excellent field position, and pinning the Spartans in their own end. Will Hagerup punted 7 times and put four of those inside the 20. Jeremy Gallon had two punt returns for 22 yards. Kevin Muma kicked off 5 times for the Spartans with 3 touchbacks. No game breaking advantage on either side, but a good effort from our Special Teams units. The biggest problem was the kickoff to start the second half; it appeared that the coaches purposedly wanted Wile to squib kick to a spot, and they thought we'd recover, but we didn't and Sparty drove 54 yards in 9 plays for a lead they never gave up.
The Spartans took 13 penalties including 4 personal fouls and two roughing the passer calls for 124 yards, and this is indicative of every Spartan team I've watched over the past 50 years. Personal Foul U. They are dirty, play dirty and are proud of it. The officials missed the chance to call the taunting on the interception TD return, and that would have served the rule, intent of the rule and the Spartans right and negated the TD. Unfortunately, it wasn't called. The play happened so quickly, the official didn't get back quick enough.
Ricky Barnum didn't play at all. When Lewan had to exit temporarily, Mealer came in.
Both teams should be embarassed by the ugly uniforms they exhibited today. They didn't even look like Spartan or Wolverine football teams.
It is a good thing we have two weeks to recover from this one! Everyone knew we were not a Top 10 team including the Spartans. We need to re-group and use this to improve rather than hang our heads. We could still end up anywhere from 7-5 to 11-1 depending on how much we improve from here. Go Blue!
Players Press Conference on October 10: Ryan VanBergen