So in case you haven't yet heard, the sky is falling. Maybe it has even fallen. Maybe this is the beginning of hell on earth with the the cold approaching and the stock market in shambles and an offensive line made out of all of the dudes in East Lansing that are taller than 6'4" and more than 300 lbs. If in spite of all that you feel the need to carry on this blog post is for you.
Perhaps you saw us make some mistakes in South Bend last week which assisted in creating a pretty lop-sided score of 31-13. Further the Irish front seven is the biggest we'll play this whole season, which made them perfectly suited to captialize on our decimated Offensive Line. Perhaps you still see 9-3 or 8-4 as a possibility for this year. If so this blog post is for you.
The bad part for me is that these people both live inside my head regarding Spartan Football and that's what makes games like this one Saturday kind of frightening to me. Michigan State's season is far from over, but it sure felt that way for a bit on Saturday. The Chips flatly frighten me a bit, they've won three out of seven in our series thus far. Our protected rival Indiana has a worse winning percentage against us than Central by ALMOST 20 PERCENT. So despite the fact that Central is a bit down in the mouth this year, if you sleep on Central, they will kill you.
Central Passing Defense vs MSU Passing Offense
As with anything offense-related, until further notice this is dependent on the Offensive Line. This will be a good time for our Offensive Line to spend sometime trying to gel its reincarnation into something purposeful and passable. The Offensive Line will be featuring two new starters, Travis Jackson, who impressed strongly in the offseason and Fou Fonoti who first set foot on campus in July. We're currently an injury away from calling TJ Duckett and asking him to come back and play Offensive Line for us.
Alex Carder, the greatest quarterback in the history of Michigan-based football took Central to the woodshed last week putting up 355 yards and 3 Touchdowns. Cousins will not have this kind of a day passing on CMU because we are not looking to wax our rivals like Western was AND Dantonio has stated that he is committed to establishing the run, which of course means not teeing off on Central for 355 yards and 3 TDs.
Provided we don't have more Offensive Line injury and/or magnificent Offensive Line failure expect to see Cousins go like 17 of 22 for 200 and a TD.
Advantage: MSU(but not by a lot).
Central Rushing Defense vs MSU Rushing Offense
Now all that said, I'm less concerned about our Offensive Line in this arena. McDonald and Foreman have proven themselves to be good pulling guards and effective against the run. Todd Anderson is mean, I'm pretty sure he's like the bunny who ate broken glass. These individuals can help bolster running to one side or the other of the field. Oh yeah, our tailbacks are none too shabby either.
I expect to see MSU go back to running like Spartan Stadium's on fire to re-establish it's offensive identity. Given the decided weight advantage on our side of the line and the fact that Le'Veon Bell is bigger than every single linebacker wearing a Central Michigan uniform, I expect us to rack up lots of rushing yards and touchdowns.
Advantage: MSU(by quite a bit)
CMU Passing Offense vs MSU Passing Defense
MSU is currently ranked 15th in Total Passing Efficiency Defense and CMU is ranked 62nd in Passing Offense. Although these numbers are unnaturally low since FAU didn't even generate 50 yards of offense in the 44-0 pasting of two very long weeks ago. Yesterday, Mike from The Chip Report indicated that Radcliff has had trouble with his reads and is not getting the ball downfield well.
For as unhealthy as our offense has been the defense has been thus far quite lucky in their injuries. Look for MSU to play their usual bend, don't break defense against Central. Give up yardage between the 20s, but not a lot of points. Unless Central comes out and gets the jump on us, expect Radcliff to be playing from behind most of the game, that means risky throws and interceptions. Need evidence? Watch the Notre Dame game from six days ago.
CMU Rushing Offense vs MSU Rushing Defense
Tim Phillips will be replacing Zurlon Tipton. At 5'5" and 162 lbs, I think the biggest problem for MSU's defense will be seeing Phillips. I remember a few years ago when Jerry Seymour ran all over MSU because he was little and MSU had problems with that. That was a much crappier defense coached by Cowboys and vicious facepalms.
Our run Defense is pretty stout and just held two very talened running backs to a reasonable amount of yardage in a game Notre Dame was trying to salt away. This should be a good opportunity for MSU's linebackers to get an opportunity playing a scatback that can move.
What do you say about a MAC team that has come in and cleaned your clock three times in your house. God likes them or at least prefers them to you when forced to pick. Or Satan...?
5 Burning Questions
We're taking the five key things series started last week and weaving it in with the Devil's Advocate series we did last year. Co-Authoring this segment will be my partner in crime Ty from the Lions in Winter. Check out his blogified Ndamukong madness here.
5 Burning Questions
1.) How does MSU set to work gelling it's O-Line this upcoming week against Central?
Last week I neglected this question in our five burning questions because I was honestly sick of talking about it. That said, it's definitely news this week as our Offensive Line continues to get thinner. New starters Fou Fonoti and Travis Jackson figure to see plenty of playing time and will be in for as many reps as possible before the tipping point of injury to positive reps swings towards injury. If we struggle to move the ball, expect to see this group in the whole game.
At this point, the only way the offensive line will gel is with the addition of Xanthan Gum, a biopolymer used as a thickening agent in salad dressings and avant-garde molecular gastronomy. Whether the O-line plays like the motley crew of ragtag backup position-switchers they are or the 1998 Denver Broncos, I would want the starters to go the distance. At this point, will another injury make much difference? The Spartans need as much cohesion as they can muster heading into Columbus.
2.) How does Dan Roushar improve for his questionable playcalling in the Notre Dame game and re-establish the MSU offensive identity this week while preparing for Ohio State?
Pound, Green, Pound. The last game Michigan State lost when outrushing it's opponent was against Minnesota in 2009. That is Dantonio's offensive philosophy, keep CHIPping the rock. See what I did there?!? Like it or not, this is how our team plays football, we run to set up the pass. Expect lots of running for exactly that purpose.
I am aghast at the deftness of your pun, and the degree to which we agree. The Spartans have to assert their dominance at the point of attack, and reestablish Baker and Bell as forces to be reckoned with.
3.) Dion Sims moved from being a backup to an OR in this week's depth chart. Is this the beginning of the Dion Sims era?
I think so. Sims is not the strongest pass blocker, otherwise at 6'5" and 280 he might be one of the dudes sliding over to a tackle spot. Sims has absolutely freakish ability. At the beginning of his recruitment he was listed as a WR and has just continued to gain weight while retaining most of his speed. He is a redshirt sophmore after sitting out last year due to some legal issues. While he is not a member of the "Glenn Winston League of Extraordinary Dumbasses" he committed a crime and was punished for it. Until his passblocking improves, do not expect him to be an every down TE but expect to see plenty of him this weekend.
This is exactly the situation you want to deploy Sims in. Against an opponent who won’t kill you with the blitz, who doesn’t have anyone who can hope to match up with Sims physically, you get all the upside of sending him out there to catch passes without all the downside of exposing Captain Kirk to the Klingon hordes.
4.) If Spartan Stadium isn't Dan Enos's Little Big Horn, it's a trailhead en route. If Enos gets the ziggy at any point before 2012 spring ball, do the Spartans bring him back to solidify their offensive coaching staff—and redouble Detroit PSL recruiting efforts?
This seems unlikely to me. I don't see Dantonio kicking out any of the members of our current offensive staff and I don't think any are on the hot track out of here, with apologies to Staten maybe. It seems unlikely that he'd take over on the defensive side of the ball. So it's not that we don't want him, it's that I don't know if we have room for him.
Secondly, this would not be Enos' first time trying to rejoin Dantonio after a failed attempt to move on to bigger and better things. Enos was the running back's coach here in 2006 in the final year of John L Smith, after leaving Dantonio in Cincinnati. He was the only member of staff retained when Dantonio came in late 2006. While he was fantastic at recruiting the PSL, I don't know if you bump a current staff member to make room for someone who's left you, twice.
Sometimes, things make too much sense not to happen. Dan Enos starts taking a lot of heat the same week Dan Roushar does, and I have a hard time not connecting the dots. Obviously, last week would have to be the beginning of a strongly negative trend for Roushar to be axed, and I hope and pray that doesn’t happen. But, if it does, I think the Spartans miss Enos more than they expected—and if he’s free and they have an opening, why not? I’d just hope he wouldn’t become our very own Mike DeBord.
5.) How likely is it that we see a repeat of 2009?
Unlikely. CMU is down this year and so is MSU a bit. We lost the 2009 game because LeFevour was an excellent QB, Antonio Brown is playing for the Steelers now and their running back was pretty darn good too. Additionally, Cousins and Nichol were platooning in at QB and it kept MSU's offense from establishing a rhythm. We couldn't put them away, they converted an onside kick AND then got two tries to make a 47 and then a 42 yarder. There were several moments that CMU had to convert perfectly and they did and won. They would need that game and more this year and I don't think they have it in them.
I have pinned that loss on the Spartans trying to defend Butch Jones’s ‘Diet Spread n’Shred’ with the a base 4-3. I theorized at the time that Narduzzi didn’t want to show his RichRod-stopping cards. The Spartans let CMU have six yards whenever they wanted it, and they paid for it in the end. Even with all that, AND the silly Quarterback by Committee, it STILL took that crazy chain of events. I can’t see Dantonio risking a slide to 2-2 this time around.
Jim's Prediction:MSU 28 CMU 10
Ty’s Prediction: MSU 33 CMU 17 (one of the MSU scores is defensive. Don’t ask why)