This weekend MSU travels to Central Michigan. Yes, you read that correctly. As a part of Mark Hollis’ State of the State Where MSU Football Plays Round Robin the Directional Michigan Schools State Series Continuum, MSU will travel to Central, Eastern and Western Michigan by the year 2020. First up, Central on Saturday.
After MSU’s fastidious but unspectacular win against Boise State last weekend they’re looking to get some glorified practice time against a school that’s struggled mightily since Dan LeFevour left Spartan fans after squeaking out a win in EL in 2009. Dan Enos took over as Head Coach in 2010 and has led the Chips to a 7-18 record since. This has not sat too well with Chip alums and fans who enjoyed the privilege of being the best team in the state of Michigan in 2009 as you might imagine.
The Chips are coming off a pretty unspectacular 38-27 win against Southeast Missouri State last Thursday night. The Chips conceded some points to the Redhawks and trailed or were tied until late in the third quarter. There should be a name for this phenomenon. When David plays Goliath in college football, David can hang tight until well into the second half, but, Goliath aint tired in the fourth quarter.
Last week Central was Goliath, this week, back to being David. This is undoubtedly the biggest game to come to Mount Pleasant since Soaring Eagle signed the paperwork and made it official. Local businesses are turncoating Spartan as well as some students. A win would secure another year for a Dan Enos head coaching gig that is trending, well, not well. A loss would be expected, a bad loss could give some fuel to the get rid of Dan Enos train.
On CMU Defense:
The Chips run a 4-2-5. The link in the previous sentence goes to Gary Patterson’s seminal work on why the 4-2-5 is cooler than Le’Veon Bell breakin’ fools all game long.The 4-2-5 is a defense similar to what Narduzzi runs here at MSU. The defense uses basic alignments but uses that simplicity to mask where the blitz is coming from on each play. As an added note of MACtion, the Redhawks are lined up in the pistol here.
Like MSU, CMU is very faithful to their base defense. Even on third and 20, CMU came out in this 4-2-5 they just gave up a bit more cushion from DB to receiver. On the Redhawks 55 yard TD run they ingeniously used all of their speed on offense to get the edge like so:
Redhawks are back in the pistol. Another speedy 1-AA dude goes into motion and starts running towards the QB.
1-AA Dude actually turns around and starts running behind the QB getting ready to set up the option.
The two backs originally lined up in the backfield go upfield to block out(read: slowdown) the offensive line from reacting to the option. Now this is just a “simple” option play.
QB holds on til the very last second and pitches.
But by now Number 4 is off like a bat out of hell and gets in for the touchdown.
MSU Rushing: If Le’Veon Bell played for Southeast Missouri State he’d be like the third fastest dude on the field. SE Missouri State made it’s hay off of having a bunch of little dudes who can run like the wind. (See: State, Appalachian). When SE Missouri State
tried to run power they didn’t try to run power really. If MSU wanted to challenge itself, they could use this game to try running speed to the outside so they could get a sniff on how much Baker might be missed for the Michigan game or something. Power running looks like it should be there all game,we all know it was against Boise who also ran a 4-2-5.
MSU Passing: I couldn’t find an up-to-date depth chart, but, the problem with the 4-2-5 is frequently your Star/Robber/Bandit is tiny.Sims will be open even when he isn’t because he’ll 80 lbs heavier than the fifth DB lined up across from him. Additionally, the way Central plays with it’s four DB flat with a ten yard cushion Maxwell should get oodles of practice throwing safe intermediate passes. Don’t expect lots of deep throws,CMU’s defense is designed to give up small to moderate gains and work to string together three stops.
On CMU Offense:
CMU runs the Multiple Offenses similar to MSU. Some of which are screencapped below.
This I-Formation should look familiar. They come out in the I “a lot”. Like “4 out of 5 plays I’ve watched so far” a lot.
Here CMU runs a Pro Set. You don’t see this at MSU, MSU almost exclusively lines up in some variant of either the Single-Back, the I Formation or the Shotgun 5WR. You don’t see a Pro Set very often in college football and in fact this may be the first time it’s use has been recorded in MAC history. Enjoy folks, you’re seeing Bigfoot here. The pro set offense helps take advantage of CMU’s running backs Zurlon Tipton and Garland/RB2?.
On 3rd and Long, CMU runs Shotgun 4WR. So I’m pretty sure you know how this all goes.
CMU’s offense is constructed similarly to MSU’s, if you didn’t know better you might think Dan Enos coached at MSU. The only thing “new” to the defense that they might see this weekend is the introduction to some pro-set formations.
MSU Run Defense: Keep CMU’s running backs in the middle of the field, Garland/RB2? looks quick enough that if you let him get the edge he has the speed to burn you. Both have good vision and respectable speed.
MSU Pass Defense: This game is going to have sacks and sacks and sacks and sacks. Shotgun appears to be a formation reserved primarily for third and long. The problem for CMU is that MSU’s front four can get respectable pressure without Narduzzi crazy blitzes. So, they should just motor right through CMU’s Offensive Line. If MSU struggles for any reason to generate pass pressure, that’s not a very encouraging sign.
CMU is Diet MSU. There’s almost nothing here that MSU hasn’t seen before or doesn’t practice against everyday with Big Ten Legends Division Championship players. Worry if the Defensive Line isn’t forcing Radcliff into all kind of bad decisions, but the offense should be able to sustain itself based schematically on CMU’s defense. Le’Veon Bell is just a huge plus. Maxwell will get lots of medium range target practice in this one and MSU officially doubles up the series 6-3.
Score Prediction: MSU 38 CMU 10.