Observations on the Spartan win, 24-26!!!

1-There is no mistake about it, the Spartans came to play; they outhustled us, they outplayed us, they outcoached us, they out rushed us and most of all: they deserved to win and did. Kudos to the Spartans! They are a very worthy opponent, and a great interstate and Big Ten rival.

2-Our defense played well in places, but not well enough to win. Our defense couldn't stop the Spartans when we needed to especially on the last drive. Yes, we did have a school record 12 sacks, but what does that matter when you lose? Kudos to Jeff Smoker! He withstood the hits and sacks, and still came up big at the end to win the game. He was only 6 of 21 on 3rd down conversions, but 2 of 2 on 4th down conversions. He was 15 of 35 for 183 yards and 2 touchdowns (no picks). He would definitely be starting ahead of Navarre had he chosen us over the Spartans.

3-Our offense definitely looked bad, and certainly did not play well enough for a win. Navarre was 14 of 27 for 195 yards-3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. In my opinion, this was a poor performance for a big rivalry game. He was only 4 of 14 on 3rd down conversions. He also did so poorly against a depleted Spartan backfield, think of what might have happened had all the original Spartan starters been available. He may have been picked off 4 or 5 times. He won't be a great Michigan quarterback until he proves he can beat our two main rivals, Michigan State and Ohio State. Our running game was again, pathetic. We didn't rush for 200 yards nor were we even close; 121 yards net. You can't win a championship with such pathetic rushing statistics. Askew had 17 rushes for 85 yards. Perry had 9 rushes for 30 yards. Our offensive line is mediocre at best, and below average in my book.

4-Our offense was miserable in the game except for the 2nd quarter. In the second half up until the last touchdown drive that put us temporarily ahead 24-20, we had one first down in the 3rd quarter and 3 first downs overall for 64 yards. We had two fumbles that we luckily recovered, and were intercepted twice. We had 3 "3 and outs" with 4 punts. This is not the formula for a victory on offense nor is it characteristic of a championship football team. This is, of course, after making halftime adjustments; sadly, Lloyd's staff was outcoached by Bobby's staff on both sides of the ball. Our offense only had 14 first downs in the game compared to 24 for the Sparties. Who deserved to win? Not us!!!

5-We got into a "shoot out" type game with them, and guess what? They had the ball at the end of the game in their stadium. It is not the scenario that we wanted to be in, but we were in it because of our pathetic play on offense. They ran 90 plays compared to only 57 for us. The time of possession was a huge advantage for the Spartans: 37 minutes compared to 23 for us (14 minutes and 33 plays); they scored first and last.

6-The kicking game was a non-factor in the game. We made one field goal while they made two. The one kickoff by Haygood that set up the field position was important, but we did stop the drive. Unfortunately, we couldn't run out the clock so we had to punt back to them for the final drive. Punting was about equal for both teams, we had 7 punts to their 6.

7-Penalties really hurt Michigan. We had 4 pass interference/defensive holding penalties on our defensive backs. The facemask on LeSueur against Rogers was a killer as was the 12th man penalty. We deserved both; poor mental discipline. We've now lost Cato June along with both Curry brothers. Brandon Williams looks terrible and the rest of our backs are mediocre at best. Howard made some good pass break-ups and there were a few good hits by Drake (12 tackles), but on pass coverage, we had nobody step up to get a pick.

8-A big factor in the game was the great blocking by Chris Baker on Victor Hobson. Hobson was a non-factor on defense. This was great coaching by the Spartans, and great execution by Chris Baker. Also, Lazarus was buried by their Left Tackle. Lazarus was another non-factor. They pummeled our left side. Duckett had 211 yards rushing. What a great game plan by the Spartans! Great Execution! Poor adjustment by our defense!

9-Our injury situation doesn't look good. Eric Brackins (Diggs had 12 tackles spelling Brackins, but didn't fill the holes to stop Duckett in many situations) and Julius Curry missed the whole game. June went out late in the game. Markus Curry is suspended. Lazarus (1 tackle) and Frysinger (I don't think he played) were ineffective, injuries or no injuries. Phil Brackins didn't play at all at fullback nor did Zach Kaufman play at inside linebacker according to the player participation on game day live.

10--Positives we saw in the game include: Marlin Jackson's great open field tackles of Rogers on punt returns, Hayden Epstein's record 57 yard field goal. Roy Manning also had a great game with two sacks coming in on the blitz package. Evan Coleman made his first appearance at Defensive End replacing Shantee Orr on occasion. In trying to be positive, Fiesta, Citrus or Outback Bowls are all attractive New Year's Day games against competitive SEC teams (Florida, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Auburn, Georgia, LSU, etc.) or possible PAC-10 teams in the Fiesta Bowl (Oregon, Washington State or Washington).

11-Unfortunately, next season we see Smoker, Duckett and Rogers again. Let's not be so quick to belittle the Michigan State football program, they have talent and they'll always be a tough rival.