Dave P didn’t get to go to Saturday’s game. Good for him. It takes a long time to drive from Madison Wisconsin to East Lansing, Michigan. And it would have been a long, solemn ride back to Madison.
Being an avid subscriber, Dave asks, “Are there any positive take-aways from Saturday’s game?” SpartyMSU.com’s response is, “I want to look at the tape before responding.”
First the Good. . . The tailgate party was an absolute blast as usual. We had lots of food, drink and mirth. For kicks, Kate brought the ever-popular “shot-ski.” Talk about bonding with three of your closest friends! Dennis donated “pork on a stick” that had all of the love and flavor of bacon. Andy was masterful as always with his grilling prowess. The cheesy potatoes and pasta salad were incredible. There was controversy, however, surrounding the absence of scotcheroos. One party-goer was so upset, she made her own batch of scotcheroos when she got home. Okay, I get the message. Come Hell or high water, scotcheroos have to be on the menu. Nonetheless, the tailgate party had plenty of highlights. Linda, Brad, Nick, Steve, Sue, Erin, and Jim attended their first Homecominng Tailgate party at Giltner Hall. I think they enjoyed themselves enough (except for the game) to come back. Breakfast, lunch and snacks were served all day long. Russell got to hang out and meet some new friends. He especially likes Molly.
And, we enjoyed the MSU Acapella Glee Club as they serenaded us with Victory for MSU, MSU Shadows and this current hit by Adele. Yes Mary, we were cute like these students. Trouble is that Kate was the only one who could (still can) sing.
There were some good things that happened on the field. MSU gave Redshirt Freshman, Brian Lewerke, his first start at QB. Brian did okay, 12 for 19 (99 yards) with one touchdown. Josiah Price broke a tackle to rumble in for the TD. Michael Geiger nailed a 41-yard field goal. Another Freshman, Justin Layne, got his first start at Cornerback and returned an interception for a touchdown and MSU was winning 14-0. Riley Bullough returned from injury to start at Middle Linebacker. Tyler O’Connor entered the game in the second half to relieve Lewerke and completed 13 of 21 passes for 281 yards and three touchdown, including two to RJ Shelton for 59 and 86 yards respectively. RJ finished the game with seven catches for 190 yards. Way to go RJ. Keep it up!
The Bad. .
MSU gave up 54 points. Coach D has not had a four game losing streak since taking the job at MSU. MSU’s record in the Big 10 is 0-3. In fact, the last time MSU had a four game losing streak is when John L Smith coached the team. That team “enjoyed” two stretches where they lost four games straight. The Offensive Line couldn’t open holes. The tackling was horrible and the play in the secondary was abysmal. NU converted on 1/2 of its third down attempts. And just when you thought the defense would hold, NU’s stud running back Justin Jackson or one of the NU receivers would break a tackle for a big gain. Jackson finished with 188 yards including a 29-yard touchdown run that included two missed tackles. If Jackson didn’t make a good gain, NU was able to pass for seven, eight or nine yards against the “No Fly Zone” which should be renamed the “Can’t Stop Anyone Team.” It seemed that Senior Cornerback, Demetrius Cox was targeted by NU. QB Clayton Thorson looked to his side to field often before lofting nice touch-passes for a first down or.. a touchdown. Obviously, there was a lot of “Bad” in this game.
Now the Ugly. . .
MSU QBs continue to be pressured despite having more success this week. After all, Lewerke and TOC completed 25 for 40, but they were sacked four times including one for a safety. MSU was ahead at halftime 17-3 then NU went on to score 26 straight points. After MSU rallied to make the score NU 33, MSU 31, NU returned the ensuing kick 95 yards for a touchdown which caused the crowd let out a collective sigh. Northwestern University completed the whipping of MSU with 490 yards of total offense and 54 points against MSU, a team known for its stingy defense. No doubt the Spartans miss former Spartan Defensive Coordinator Pat Narduzzi. Come on Coach Barnett and Coach Tressel, you’ve got to help the kids improve their tackling and pass coverage.
Final thoughts. Drew Sharpe’s headline in today’s Detroit Free Press Sports Section says, “It’s Time to Admit this Season is not Salvageable” and his point that the recruiting classes of MSU are stronger than they have been previously and the time is ripe to give the young guys more playing time is well taken. Drew points out that the Spartan program can continue to be successful if the coaches aren’t stubborn and embrace change. Taking Drew’s advice means that we will be challenged to win against Maryland and we’ll probably get blown out by OSU and U-M and Penn State.
The thought of throwing in the towel is more than a little irritating. If MSU is weak, U-M and OSU will undoubtedly run up the score in East Lansing. I can’t fathom what it would be like to hear, “Little Brother” chants from the visitors again. Let’s not forget that coaches are teachers, first and foremost. When things are tough, you figure it out!
After the game, fans met at their tailgate parties and started the “well if OSU beats U-M and MSU wins out. . .” This kind of talk is troubling because there are so many problems- missed tackles, poor play on the O and D line, Special- teams play (Does anyone remember the last time we returned a kick for a TD?)- that must be eliminated for MSU to play respectably and be competitive.
Spartans can’t win many games when they give up 54 points. I’m in agreement with Coach D. “We need to get on and deal with it. We have half a season left.” Another coach whom I respect dearly, Jim Valvano, said “Never, ever, ever, ever give up.” Spartans never give up. It will be interesting to see how they respond. The answers will begin to unfold as soon as we learn the starting line-up next Saturday against the Maryland Turtles.