MSU Smash Rating: 8. 10 points for the fact this is as badly as a team can be beaten, minus 2 for the fact that if FAU wins a game this year I'll be very surprised. How about our defense? They gave up 48 total offensive yards including only 26 passing yards for their lowest total since the 1984 Cherry Bowl. This was simply put as whoopy as whoopy whoopiness gets. The team looked to be playing on par with their mid-season 2010 selves right now.
I'd say this team is bound for another New Year's day bowl except that's true of half the Big 10 now, so I don't know if it's really all that special. Even the damn backup kicker was kicking field goals.
1.)Left tackle by committee, what could go wrong?
Against FAU nothing went wrong at Left Tackle or anywhere else for that matter. I didn't notice France's play, I also do not recall him receiving any penalties so I'm left to assume he played well. That said I was juggling kids most of the game and couldn't really zero in on dudes as well as I liked. There was a respite near the beginning of the second half where both kids wanted to be in the concourse so I did get to watch some reps of Fonoti at tackle. He looked late to his blocks and during the one run play that went his way he was not able to block his guy out of the picture.
France is obviously not Bryan Bulaga or Jake Long, but if he goes down that side of the line definitely gets weaker.
2.)FAU's Superior Pass Defense
"Last week FAU picked off John Brantley and the Florida Gator Swamp Folk three times. Without watching the game, it's hard to know if this came from superior defensive scheme or the installation of Jabba the Charlie's new offense. Maybe both? Regardless, three picks is plenty-pickin'-good on a team like Florida."
How in the blue hell did Florida throw three picks on these guys? I think there's a good chance that the installation of Jabba the Charlie's offense has something to do with it. There was simply put, nothing to their pass defense yesterday, Cousins was outstanding, Maxwell was 6 of 9 for 63 yards including probably the most impressive incompletion I've seen in a long time with his 50 yard SCRAMBLEBOMB to B.J. Cunningham which he of course caught too, just two yards out of bounds. *
Maybe our passing game is that much better than Florida's. Maybe FAU had a bad day in pass defense. Maybe both. It wouldn't surprise me a bit if Charlie was doing more with less in Gainesville. That said, our Quarterback's are for real.
Peter Badovinac did get to play significant minutes in the fourth quarter. I had suspected third string duties would fall to Nichol in a temporary situation or Cook if a long term situation arose, I still think that's true, but good to see Badovinac get some minutes yesterday.
* I dropped my cell phone this morning and BJ Cunningham ran into my house and caught it before it hit the ground. He's really amazing.
3.)Can I get an Amen? I mean a sack.
Well yesterday we got three sacks. 2.5 of them were credited to Defensive Lineman. Yesterday I felt like we definitely opened the defensive playbook a bit more, probably to get the guys ready for Notre Dame. There was definitely more blitzing, less vanilla coverages. So the front four had a bit more help than in the first game, but I don't think we've seen the bulk of their fancy playbook.
I felt like our D-Line played a lot more like the unit we kept expecting to see coming into the season. Gholston is starting to develop the mental ability to compliment his freakish physical gifts. Worthy is starting to nail his snap count timing again. All in all the unit looked much improved.
4.)How will our linebackers do in TE pass coverage?
Well amazing. We gave up one first down. So I'm pretty sure everyone was amazing in pass coverage all the time. Watching Notre Dame last night, I'm not sure we have to worry about TE passes like we did last year when they had Kyle Rudolph. Denicos Allen played a more complete game yesterday in my opinion. I think the linebackers are coming along nicely.
5.)Nick Hill: The Next Great Kick Returner?
Well, the crappy thing about shutting someone out is that you only get to return one kick. Nick Hill brought his back for 31 yards and looked great doing it. More data is required.
However, he did get to play some fourth quarter "run right and don't go out of bounds for the love of all that is holy" time. He rushed 14 times for 56 yards in spite of the fact the entire stadium knew he was going to be running right behind our third string line. I watched him run up the backs of his blockers a couple times, it's just a patience thing. He's gonna be fine.
- Seriously Everything.
- Arthur Ray saw more than a ceremonial snap, he played left guard in the fourth quarter. IMO, this makes him the third string left guard behind Foreman and John Deyo.
- Taiwan Jones looks like a man among children in his mop-up duty. When things start clicking for him look out.
- Not excited for Maxwell's debut as the starter to be against Boise State next year, but they lose Kellen Moore too.
- B.J. Cunningham got the school record for receptions yesterday laying down.
- We gave up one first down, that's...
- This team looks ready for Notre Dame, who will run the same 3-4 type defense next week. I think FAU could be like Notre Dame light. They're like ND without the talent, neither team has the drive to win.
- Conroy missed another field goal yesterday off the goalpost. This makes him 2/4 on the season. I know that the first one was a Marino hold issue, but the second one looked to be all him. I don't think this is BAD, I didn't really expect Conroy to go 14 of 15 on the season again, but if there is some kind of kicking fail later this season, the seed of suspicion was planted back here. Probably nothing to worry about too much though.
- Lawrence Thomas I believe was a healthy scratch yesterday. As a recruit who had a single offer redeemable at any school in the United States I have to suspect that he was hoping to see the field this year. I think if he didn't make it in yesterday, he'll probably get redshirted this year.
Update: Our friend LVS over at The Only Colors pointed out that Thomas was injured for all but the first couple days of fall camp and thus missed the installation of the defense. I had envisioned Thomas maybe seeing the field this year in a Greg Jones circa 2007 type way even with the injury. "What do we do?" "Kill the Quarterback!" "Why do we do it Greg Jones?" "Because quarterbacks need murderin'!". However, missing the defensive install was probably enough to warrant a redshirt.
- In fact, Taiwan Jones is the only 2011 recruit to play to date. I really hope that is a sign of strength in our depth chart and not a commentary on our recruiting class. With the defensive line and secondary due to lose some serious type star power last year I was hoping particularly on D-Line to see someone be good enough to warrant some consideration for the field this year.
- It seemed like our defense played a LOT more aggressively yesterday, I just hope not so much so they're overconfident for next week. ND's season is on the line and they're going to play us tough. Plus, you know, I'm sure Brian Kelly is still really excited about...
- Best wishes for Jerry Kill. May you continue on the epoch-long quest to make Minnesota great soon.
- Both Michigan and Notre Dame have some serious holes in their game, but like all rivalry games, I'll celebrate the win after it happens and not take them for granted.
- I have jury duty tomorrow, so no Monday post. Have a good Monday.
Final Predicted Score: MSU 38 FAU 7.
Final Actual Score: MSU 44 FAU 0.