Butterface or Butterface Boy for the lady folk. For many long, laborious, football-droughty months the MSU Passing Attack has been the perceived butterface of the MSU 2012 football team. Even the wildest hopes in the preseason included the idea that maybe MSU might be able to move the ball with some sort of consistency by the end of the 2012. Until then it’s going to be 98 carries a game from Le’Veon Bell and the hope that the Defense can party like it’s 1951 and that a 10-10 tie is the limit. What’s strange though is that you might not have to wait very long for the Pass Game to pass the Run Game, because at least in yardage it already happened.
Michigan State currently ranks 41st in Total Rushing Yardage nationally and 31st in Total Passing Yardage. Michigan State is moving the ball effectively through the air, but not spectacularly, ranking 50th in Yards Per Attempt. Yet, MSU keeps throwing, ranking 30th in total pass attempts. Some of this is the result of CMU being a glorified practice game, but Maxwell’s 22 of 38 against Boise State retrospectively was more significant than it sounded at the time. Indeed Captain Kirk only threw 38 or more pass attempts three times in his MSU career, Northwestern in 2010(come from behind win), Notre Dame in 2011(The misery) and The Outback Bowl in 2012. In the VERY early goings, Maxwell is on pace to average 34.5 pass attempts per game. Kirk’s highest total for a season was 29.9 in 2011(he had 26 in 2010 and 27.3 in 2010).
There’s been some message board criticism of the pass protection this season as well, but so far the Offensive Line has allowed zero sacks. There are nine other teams who have played two games who also have allowed zero sacks. Most of those schools play quick-release passing attack football(See: State, Boise). Maxwell may not have had eons and epochs to throw, but, he’s getting the ball out on time.
Right now the perception of MSU’s offense is that Le’Veon Bell is judge, jury and executioner of the whole offense. But as anyone knows who’s watched some MSU football in the past two years, Dantonio knows a thing or two about Sleight of Hand. MSU is very quietly throwing the ball as much as they did under the Captain Kirk regime and Maxwell will continue to improve throughout the season. (The way the Big Ten this past weekend he might not even have to improve after Ohio State.)
So “Run Le’Veon Run”, but MSU will continue the death of 1000 paper cuts in the passing game all season long.