Observations on the win over the Spartans, 28-24!
1-Michigan converted three red zones for 21 points while MSU gets 4 red zones, 3 in the second half, for 24 points. Michigan gets 7 points off one turnover while Sparties get no points off one Michigan turnover. Michigan fumbles 3 times, but doesn't commit any turnovers off fumbles by Mallet, Mathews and Henne.
2-Henne was the man!!! He'll conclude his career as one of the greatest Michigan quarterback defeating the Spartans 4 out of 4 starts. He ends up 18 of 33 for 211 yards with 4 TDs, and a heroic effort after taking 2 sacks and reinjuring his knee. Offense sputters in the second half, but closes with a bang. They get 18 first downs, 311 yards in total offense with only 3 of 13 in 3rd and 4th down conversions. Manningham comes up big with 8 catches for 129 yards, 2 TDs including the game winner. Arrington comes up with 5 second half catches for 43 yards. Mathews gets 3 grabs for 23 yards and a TD and holding specialist, Carson Butler, had 2 catches for 16 yards and a TD.
3-Hart had 110 yards on 15 carries, but left the game re-injuring his ankle. Minor comes up with 6 yards, and Carlos Brown manages one other yard. The Spartans won the net rushing game, 191 to 100 with Ringer's 72 yarder on a broken play; as a result, they dominated time of possession by 7 minutes gaining them a 15 play advantage. Henne negated the advantage.
4-Defense gives up 3 second half red zone touchdowns, but doesn't let the Spartans come back with the game on the line. We force the Sparties into 7 first half punts, 9 punts overall, and one turnover. They end up with 17 first downs, 352 yards in total offense, convert 7 of 20 in 3rd and 4th down conversions, but can't come back when they needed to. Caulcrick found the end zone twice, and netted 86 yards while Ringer got 128 yards on 15 carries. Senior Jamar Adams comes up with a game leading 14 tackles and an interception. Obi Ezeh had 13 tackles including 3 for loss and 2 sacks. Chris Graham had 11 tackles. It really hurt us when our defensive tackle leader, Brandent Engelmon, went out with a shoulder injury after tackling the bruiser, Caulcrick, and he never returned. Stevie Brown and Anton Campbell couldn't do the job replacing him, but did help on 5 and 4 tackles each. Morgan Trent didn't have his best game, but he sure had a big pass break up on 3rd down in their last series. Trent and Donovan Warren did a great job holding Thomas to 7 catches for 65 yards, and limiting Hoyer to only 19 of 35 for 161 yards.
5-Mesko punted 9 times with one fair catch and two inside the 20, but it certainly wasn't his best game. Their frosh punter, Bates, outpunted Mesko and nailed us 4 times inside the 20. Sparties self-destructed, as usual, with 9 for 71 yards while we get 4 for 45. Our special teams were adequate; we didn't get much field position advantage, but we didn't give them much advantage either.
6-I knew this would be a close, 4th quarter game where the "cream would rise to the top," and it did. Michigan State is an excellent football team, and has improved a lot; they will be tough and a team to be reckoned with every season under Dantonio. The Spartans were tough on both sides of the ball, and their effort was commendable. It is no mistake though that we defeated Michigan State in this fashion! It says something about both football programs. I don't want to "rub it in," but there are reasons why Michigan wins these games and Michigan State does not. It is about poise, composure, confidence and overcoming adversity. I'm so proud of our players, coaches and all the people that made the victory possible. It was a heroic effort!
Observations on the first half with the Spartans, 14-3!
1-Michigan converts two red zones for 14 points while MSU takes their first drive into a red zone for 3 points. Michigan gets 7 points off one turnover while Sparties get no points off one Michigan turnover.
2-Henne is 7 of 14 for 34 yards with 2 TDS, a fumble that Mitchell recovers and one interception. Offense has 7 first downs, but is only 1 of 8 in 3rd and 4th down conversions. We come up with 128 yards of total offense, and 98 yards in net rushing compared to MSU's 15. Manningham has 3 catches for 14 yards and a TD and Butler has 2 catches for 16 yards and a TD. Arrington has been shut out with drops.
3-Hart has 97 yards on 14 carries, but leaves the game reinjuring his ankle. Time of possession is about even.
4-Defense comes up with an awesome performance! We force the Sparties into 7 first half punts and one turnover. They only get 5 first downs, convert one of 10 in 3rd down conversions, and 85 yards in total offense. Chris Graham and Obi Ezeh lead the defense with 6 tackles each. Ezeh and Taylor come up with sacks, and Jamar Adams gets an interception. Jamison, Chris Graham, Engelmon and Adams get pass break ups. We almost get beat deep when Trent misses coverage, but Hoyer throws ball short. Hoyer is 8 of 21 for 70 yards and one pick. We have 6 tackles for loss with 2 sacks.
5-Special Teams do o.k. Mesko punts 5 times with one fair catch and one inside the 20, but kicks a pathetic 27 yard punt giving the Spartans great field position after Butler's 15 yard personal foul penalty. Sparties self-destructing on penalties with 7 for 51 yards while we get 2 for 20. Mathews gets a nice punt return, but also fumbles and recovers. Wright has done well on kickoffs. Kickoff coverage and punt coverage are o.k.
6-Kraus left the game, but returned. Our offensive line is not doing a good job protecting Henne even though Mitchell is back. Schilling can't contain Saint-Dic.
7-3:30 p.m. game has sun affecting game, and hopefully as the sun goes down, it is a non-factor. We get the ball to start the second half; hopefully we can convert it into points.
MSU Preview and Prediction
Michigan State leads the conference in total offense with over 451 yards per game, rushing offense averages over 223 yard per game behind Junior Javon Ringer and 5th year Senior Jehuu Caulcrick. Ringer averages over 175 yards all purpose per game. Caulcrick leads the conference in scoring and rushing TDs, and is tough in the red zone. They will try to run the ball down our throat, and swing pass us with Junior Devin Thomas and Ringer. Our defense is vulnerable to the screen and swing pass so Harrison, Crable, Chris Graham and others will have to play their best games. Their offensive line is led by three 5th year players, Pete Clifford, John Masters and Kenny Shane, and two juniors, Roland Martin and Jesse Miller. Thomas is averaging 7 receptions and 107 yards per game, but 225 all purpose yards per game with kickoff returns. They also throw to Frosh Mark Dell and Tight End Kellen Davis. Junior Brian Hoyer is the 3rd most efficient quarterback in the conference, and have the best red zone offense. They put up 34 points per game. They are not that great on 3rd down conversions though, and they average 3 sacks allowed per game.
On defense, MSU will put forth all efforts to stop our rushing attack and sack our quarterback with Senior Ervin Baldwin and 5th year Senior Jonal Saint-Dic. Their defensive tackles are Justin Kershaw and Ogemdi Nwagbuo. They only have 11 sacks though in 5 conference games, but Saint-Dic is ranked 6th nationally in sacks and 23rd nationally in tackles for loss. Jake Long matches up against Saint-Dic. Our offensive line will need to be plenty sharp to move this bunch off the ball, and wear them out for the 4th quarter. Their defense allows 34 points per game, and is led by a couple of freshman linebackers, SAM Greg Jones and WILL Eric Gordon although Senior MIKE Kaleb Thornhill and "bad boy," SirDarean Adams, also fly around. As a result of this type of game plan, they will be vulnerable to our passing game, and we can exploit them on defense with a healthy Henne. I'm not sure if Mallet can exploit their defense, but, for sure, their backfield with Senior Travis Key, Senior Nehamiah Warrick, Sophomore Ashton Henderson and Junior Kendall Davis-Clark will be tested today.
Thomas and MSU lead the conference in kickoff returns. MSU has a poor punting game averaging only 34.4 yards per boot with a freshman punter, Aaron Bates, and ranked 102nd nationally, 10th in the conference; their punt return game is not a threat with Terry Love and ranked 108th nationally. Their field goal kicker, Swanson, is pretty dependable. MSU also takes a lot of penalties. Field position is always a key factor in games like this, and I'd say Michigan has an advantage here with a dependable punter in Mesko; however, our kickoff coverage must contain Thomas.
We will certainly need to stop their run, and limit their offense; however, it is unrealistic to completely slow them down especially at home in a rivalry game. Our defense will certainly be challenged, and must limit their red zone opportunities and create turnovers. On offense, assuming Henne and Hart return, we will need to burn them with the pass so they don't load up to stop our run. Iowa was very effective running against MSU in the second half last week, but they were at home; I don't think we'll be able to run the ball as effectively unless we are to establish our passing game with throws to Manningham, Arrington, Mathews and others. The play action plays, swaggles, screens and crossing patterns should work to keep their defense off balance. Certainly, we'll try some bombs to Manningham. Usually the team who can run the best and stop the run wins this one; hopefully, Hart will gain over 100 yards and we will get close to 200 yards of net rushing. If we do, we should win; if MSU holds our net rushing game under 100 yards, they will have a good chance to win unless they turn the ball over a lot. Either way, this will be a close 4th quarter affair in East Lansing. The weather is great so adverse weather, rain, wind, etc. should be no factor.
Prediction: Michigan 27 Michigan State 19