Observations on the loss to the Spartans, 20-26!
1--Give Michigan State all the credit, they "kicked our butts!" They completely dominated the game, from start to finish (except the last 4:47 of the 4th quarter) and deserved the win. They completely outplayed us on both sides of the ball. It was a valiant comeback by Michigan and Forcier was incredible down the stretch, but the magic didn't last in overtime.The Spartans earned 26 points off 6 red zones while we converted 3 red zones into 13 points.
2--Forcier was 17 of 32 for 223 yards, 2 TDs, 1 interception and 3 sacks. He probably had half his receptions and yardage in the last 4:47 of the game. Offense had 12 possessions, and 6 three and outs; in all, we gained only 251 net yards and most of those yards came with probably half the yardage in the last 4:47 of the 4th quarter. We had only 14 first downs and a little over 20 minutes in time of possession while converting 7 of 17 3rd and 4th down conversions. Give credit to a tough, physical, solid Spartan defense who stopped us when they needed to in overtime for the win with an interception by Rucker. Eric Gordon forced a fumble and led the Spartans with 8 tackles, 2 for loss including a sack. Greg Jones also had 8 tackles, a fumble recovery and was in on a sack.
3--No running game against MSU, no victory! Tate Forcier was our leading rusher with 27 yards in 13 carries despite two sacks. Seniors Carlos Brown and Brandon Minor and our weak offensive line netted 28 yards for the day while giving up 3 sacks.
4--Defense couldn't hold the Spartans in overtime, missed tackles et al. The Spartans roll up 417 in total offense, 197 on the ground including 2 rushing TDs and 220 in the air, 20 first downs and 9 of 20 in 3rd and 4th down conversions. The Spartan offense executed a great game plan from Dantonio and company while dominated time of possession by nearly 20 minutes that led to 14 additional offensive plays. True Freshman Larry Caper rushes for 2 TDs and Glenn Winston runs in another while our defense misses tackles. Walk-on Jordan Kovacs led the defense with 17 tackles, 3 for loss and a forced fumble. Obi Ezeh had 14 tackles, but failed to contain the scrambles of Cousins; he scrambled 7 times for 75 yards. Cousins also burned our defensive backfield for 15 of 21 for 152 yards, 2 interceptions and 2 sacks.
5--Mesko's decision for the fake punt really cost us. That was stupid and we were lucky it only led to 3 points for MSU. Brett Swenson and Jason Olesnavage match each other with 2 for 2 in field goals. Punting and kickoff phases of the game for both teams were even so no advantage for either team there.
6--In the end, the Spartans rush for 3 TDs, we rush for 0 TDs. Spartans were tougher, more physical and made plays when they needed to. We didn't, but we did stage an amazing comeback; it is too bad we fell short in O.T.
7--It's on to Iowa and I don't like our chances there at night on the road against a tough Hawkeye team. Our coaches lack of commitment to the defense as a priority is not Michigan football in my mind. We devote much more scholarships to offense than defense, and have 4 walk-ons in backup or starter positions as a result of this lack of commitment. A quick strike offense is great, but without a priority to defense, the future of the Rodriquez era is more shoot outs. We'll win some, but we'll also lose some. If there are any high school corner backs or safeties that want a starting position as a true freshman, there are 4 openings at the University of Michigan for the 2010 season; please apply soon and if you can enroll in January, 2010 it is even better. Player Participation
Observations on the first half with MSU, 6-10!
1--Each team has two red zones, we were held to two field goals while they converted both for 10 points. We have 3 points off one Spartan turnover. We are lucky to only be behind by 4 at half since Michigan State totally outplayed us on both sides of the ball in each quarter.
2--Forcier is 5 of 10 for 65 yards with a couple of drops by his receivers and he took an intentional grounding. Passing game looks bad and receivers simply aren't getting the job done. Robinson made a great play on a pass break up that Koger may have taken 90+ yards for a TD if he misses. MSU defense has us completely bottled up with only 4 first downs, 2 three and outs, 62 yards in net offense and 3 of 6 in 3rd down conversions. Each team has one sack.
3--No running game against MSU, no victory! Carlos Brown has 3 rushes for 7 yards. We are -3 in net rushing.
4--Defense looks bad, really bad! Spartans roll up 13 first downs, 223 total yards and were 6 of 10 in 3rd and 4th down conversions. Cousins is 13 of 16 for 140 yards, 1 interception by Stevie Brown on a tipped pass by Mike Martin and one sack by Ryan VanBergen. Caper, Winston, Counsins, Nichol and Martin has netted 83 yards and the Spartans have amassed a 15:20 time of possession advantage. Obi Ezeh has 9 tackles to lead the defense. Blair White has 5 catches. J.T. Floyd looks bad at corner and Troy Woolfolk looks absolutely horrid at safety. Jordan Kovacs forced a fumble and has 5 tackles; MSU dodged a bullet with two forced fumbles that they recovered both. They also dodged a bullet with all their penalties, 5 for 55 yards.
5--Mesko, Wright and Olesnavage have done a nice job keeping us in this one. Mesko punts a 58 yarder inside the 20. Wright has 2 touchbacks with the win, but MSU returns a 45 yarder with the win. Olesnavage nails both field goal attempts.
65--We really need to make halftime adjustments, and establish a running game while completely stopping the Spartan run. We can win this game, but we'll really need a big second half.
Michigan Game Notes
Michigan State Game Notes
Michigan State Preview 2009
Michigan enters this game as the favorite, and the Wolverines have won the last three meetings in Spartan Stadium. The last five games in Spartan Stadium have been decided by 19 points so this one promises to be a nailbiter, too. Michigan is 4-0 and Michigan State is 1-3; needless to say, a victory in this game would make the Spartans season. The Spartans have not defeated the Wolverines two years in a row in 42 years since the Bubba Smith era.
On offense, the Spartans are led by Sophomore quarterback Kirk Cousins; the Spartan offense is ranked #21 nationally in total offense and #8 in passing offense, they lead the Big Ten in both categories as well as first downs. Our defensive backs will be challenged all day by receivers Junior Mark Dell, Sophomores Keshawn Martin and B.J. Cunningham, and Senior Blair White. Don't forget about Junior Tight End Charlie Gantt; he caught a TD pass against the Wolverines last year. Their running game hasn't been nearly as solid as last year, but they do have capable backs in Caulton Ray and Frosh Larry Caper with "bad boy" Glenn Winston and Freshman Edwin Baker as backups. Their rushing offense is ranked #10 in the Big Ten. Last year, Brandon Graham guaranteed victory. He had 3 sacks, but the Spartans rolled up 473 yards in total offense and were 10 fo 19 on 3rd and 4th down conversions. To win, Michigan's defense must do a better job in limiting the Spartan offense in 3rd and 4th down conversions. We must stop their passing game, and we really need to pressure Cousins. Their offensive line in anchored by 5th Year Seniors Rocco Cironi and Brendon Moss, Juniors John Stipek and D.J. Young and Sophomore Joel Foreman. Most of their offensive line starters from last year have left including Javon Ringer who nearly gained 200 yards last year so if the Spartans are to defeat Michigan, it will come through an aerial attack.
On defense, the Spartans are led by MIKE inside linebacker Greg Jones; he is one of the best linebackers in the Big Ten averaging 13 tackles per game. He was a former Michigan recruit that we "slow-played" for a scholarship so he signed with the Spartans; one can assume he'll be ready to show Michigan that he was deserving of a scholarship. At WILL inside linebacker, Eric Gordon is solid. One can expect to see a blitz package from Gordon and Jones to take Forcier out of rhythm. Detroit Freshman Chris Norman and Junior Jon Misch have been rotating at SAM outside linebacker, and we will try to exploit the outside with screens and quick tosses to Odoms, Grady, Brown and Minor. 5th year defensive end Trevor Anderson anchors the defensive line, Juniors Oren Wilson, Colin Neely and Jerel Worthy are the other starters. Ortmann on Anderson is a key matchup especially in passing situations. An experienced Michigan offensive line should be able to handle them on the ground, and withstand their pressure; however, in a rivalry, we can expect a real dogfight up front. The Spartan backfield is led by Sophomore Free Safety Trenton Robinson and Junior Strong Safety Roderick Jenrette. Their cornerbacks rotate with 5th year players Jeremy Ware, Ross Weaver, Kendall Davis-Clark and Junior Chris Rucker. Marcus Hyde will also see action at safety. The Spartan pass defense is ranked 96th nationally and 105th in pass efficiency defense. Let's hope Forcier, Mathews, Hemingway, Odoms, Koger and our passing attack are able to be successful in the passing game. The must have a balanced attack, and this means 200 yards on the ground and another 200 in the air. The Spartan defense is ranked 71st nationally while our defense is ranked 89th in total defense; one could see this and conclude that this will be an offensive game; however, the history of this game doesn't predict a shoot out. The Spartans are last in the Big Ten in red zone defense.
The Spartan Special Teams have a solid excellent punting game; they are ranked 8th nationally while we are ranked #6 in net punting. Junior Aaron Bates is their punter; he has a 45.7 yard average with half of his punts downed inside the 20. Brett Swenson has developed into a capable, steady placekicker; he is 6 of 7 on field goals this year, and his only miss was a 50+ yarder. Glenn Winston is their kickoff returner and Keshawn Martin runs back punts. The Spartan kickoff coverage ranks #10 in the Big Ten. Field position will be a critical element in this game, and hopefully we should maintain good field position with Mesko, Wright, Stonum and Mathews.
Last year, the two teams were tied at half, and at the end of the 3rd quarter; however, Michigan State pulled away the win with two 4th quarter red zone conversions. The Spartans also sacked Steven Threet 4 times and forced 3 interceptions. If Michigan is to prevail on Saturday, we must limit sacks and turnovers on Forcier, and establish a running game. In 35 of the last 38 meetings between the two teams, the team who gained the most yards in net rushing prevailed. If we are able to run the ball (and I think we will), and choke the MSU running game; this one will boil down to who is the most successful in the air. In a high scoring offensive battle, 4th quarter turnovers and stops usually decide the outcome. Turnovers and points off turnover are also huge in these rivalry games, and I like our two senior running backs to hold on to the ball in this one especially late in the game. Other intangibles include the weather, and a cold, windy, rainy day potentially signals running the football which give Michigan the advantage. Both teams have show the ability to score quickly, and this can certainly lead to momentum swings which is huge in this rivalry. I'm predicting a Wolverine victory!
Michigan 28 Michigan State 27