Scouting Report and Prediction: Michigan State vs. Indiana Hoosiers
A look at this week’s opponent…
This week the Dr. serves Michigan State the Indiana Hoosiers. Kevin Wilson, the head coach, is in year two and his team is sitting with a record of 2-2. Their only two wins come against abysmal opponents.
Earlier this week Wilson said of the Spartans, “As we go to Michigan State, a quality program, Coach Dantonio’s track record at Cincinnati and what he’s done in East Lansing speaks for itself. Good players, well coached, good staff. They’ve got a high standard of what they are shooting for. I know they’re coming in 3-2, but they’ve got a standard to win that division and with Ohio State being a loss on the other side of the bracket, they’ll come in guns-a-blazing and keeping their program on track.”
Of course, Dantonio is going to head to the podium salivating that his team gets a bad Indiana team to right their woes. He did say, “I think the program right now at Indiana, it’s in transition phase. I think they’re better than they were last year. They’ve lost some players due to injury, as well. They had a lot of young guys playing last year. Some of those young guys remained playing, some are not playing. So they improved their football team. They’re 2‑2 right now. Even though they got down versus Northwestern, they were competitive, came back, cut the lead to 8. At the end, it all fell apart a little bit at the very end. They were very competitive and I think they’re going to play very competitive.”
When MSU has the ball…
The Indiana defense is horrendous. The two real teams they have faced this year averaged 42.5 points each. A Michigan State offense, that needs to work on some real issues, are fortunate to have IU this week.
MSU will spend significant time working on their passing game, offensive line, and execution. With so many issues, this won’t be a game where you see large amount of subs coming in early. MSU needs to do what they couldn’t against a better than Indiana EMU team. They need to just focus on themselves. They need to take a business approach.
If MSU comes in and plays terrible, of course, IU will stick around. Just like EMU. This team can’t afford that. Most of their goals are still ahead of them if they win out. They don’t have worries against the abysmal Hoosiers, but they need to take this game to work on issues that have to fix before better opponents hit the schedule.
The Spartans will not follow normal Dantonio protocol that keeps him from running up the score. His offense needs work and he will let them. You will see substitutions coming in much faster on defense giving their young players on that side some reps.
MSU will go to the air and try to fix the line with running. Again, this is pointless on offense because it isn’t about IU, it is all about MSU.
Coach Wilson said of the MSU offense, “Offensively, they’re physical and they like to pound it with the big back. Have got to get their pass game going. I know they’re working hard on that and the way they run it, it will get going. It will get more complete as they mature there. They’ve got a quality line.”
Dantonio didn’t say it as plainly as I just did, but he made his point. Talking about the game he said, “I would expect our football team will make a statement.”
How poor is the defense MSU will face? Here is what Coach Wilson said about the IU D. “We struggled defensively, tackling and getting off blocks. We have got to get off blocks. Up front, our ability to continue to make adjustments, whether it be coaching-wise, kids taking that onto the field, and we’ve got a few new wrinkles and setting things right and getting secondary support and some things need to be cleaned up as we move forward. I think a couple weeks ago, quarterback pressure, harassing the quarterback, has kind of not been there and with that I think sometimes we’re still struggling, which is what I call base alignment communication. Our guys call the defense, they come out in a different set, you’ve got to adjust, it has got to be communicated, especially on the road. We had way too many issues there. Started pretty good, but the last two weeks third down and scoring zone defense hasn’t been good. We’re getting them on third down where we have a chance to get off the field. If they do get into the score zone, let’s hold them to some field goals. If you do that, you’ve got a chance, even as poorly as we’re playing, to even make that game a little more difficult down the stretch.” Emphasis added by Spartan Nation.
MSU QB Andrew Maxwell realizes that the MSU offense is not as good as we thought it would be to start the season. That is not his fault, but he talked about how he thinks they are coming along. He said, “We’re still fighting, making improvements each and every week. I thought last week as an offense, even though we didn’t win, me personally, I felt the best about where we were as an offense from an attitude standpoint, from an energy standpoint, from an intensity standpoint. I felt like we played from the first snap to the last with that tenacity that we try to come out and play every week with. If we can do that, it starts there, then it starts with being better on third down, turning field goals into touchdowns. If we come and are better every week, the points are going to come and we’re going to get to where we want to be.”
When MSU is on defense…
The Michigan State defense is very good, but not perfect by any stretch. They will have to get more pressure on the Hoosiers. They need to work on that pass rush. IU has only one small chance in this game. That is attacking the MSU DB group. The CBs in the MSU scheme are on an island and that is the only chance for IU.
Johnny Adams had a lot of preseason accolades, but has not lived up to them this year. They will attack him, and Adams has to make them pay.
Wilson said of his offense, “Offensively, some things we’re working on, we talked about getting inside the 5-yard line twice with no touchdowns. We received two turnovers, got no points for that, which is disappointing. If you don’t produce points, it’s a momentum play. I think one time we had a turnover and went to a TV timeout. We wanted to keep playing, we had momentum, of course, that’s just the flow of the game. Disappointed to be close two times and to get zero points. I think it’s the first time all year we’ve been down in there and not gotten anything. I think even settling for a field goal when you get to the five is actually a loss, so we’ve got to get touchdowns. That was disappointing, not taking advantage of the turnovers, one in the fourth quarter, got it down to a one-possession game, and we go three-and-out. That was disappointing. Third-down conversions haven’t been what they need to be, in particular in the first quarter. I think we’re looking at the first drive, third-and-3, then we throw an interception, then a third-and-2, then a third-and-5, then a third-and-3. You’ve got manageable situations. You’re going to play a great defense this week that does a great job on third-down defense. When you get into third downs you’ve got to be more efficient and that was disappointing. I think offensively, even though we are making some plays, our lack of physical presence is not there.”
Dantonio talked at length about the CBs and the philosophy of his defense. He said, “First of all, we play our corners tight press coverage a lot. We do that, have from the very beginning. It isolates them at times. Most people, a lot of people go into the boundary with their throws. More throws are thrown to the boundary than to the field.”
He went on to add about Adams’s struggles, “What I said before, it’s a game of inches. If he (Johnny Adams) stays with the play and doesn’t look back for the ball at the end, he stays with the play, reaches with his left hand, plays the ball out of phase, he doesn’t have the receiver hip to hip, he’ll make at play, at least make the tackle, but make the play on the ball because he’s that far from it. He lost a little bit of composure I think on that particular play, looked back to see what was coming. Got to be careful when you look back. Somebody’s gaining on you a little bit. That’s a word they use. Hit him right in stride. It was a perfect throw. Hit him right in stride. 10‑4 spinner. On the release, missed him on the release. He got a little hands on, but a relatively clean release compared to what he had been doing.”
He continues by saying, “Again, a game of inches. Went that way. We were ahead. Got to be able to make the play. But I think Johnny is an excellent corner. He’s remained an excellent corner for us. I think he’ll continue to play to a high level.”
And about his philosophy of play, Dantonio said, “In this day and age, it’s our feeling that you have to play your corners in that capacity to be able to stop all the different things people are doing from a run‑pass standpoint with all the basically single wing, creating different type of runs with their quarterback play. So it’s been effective for us. We remain I guess probably one of the top teams in the nation in terms of scoring defense, running defense, whatever. I haven’t looked at the statistics as of late because sometimes you throw those out after a game like this, but we’ve been successful defensively. Like I said, sometimes you win by an inch, sometimes you lose by an inch. We lost that one by an inch, we lost the game by an inch.”
Does MSU play down to their level of competition? Does Dan Conroy continue his kicking struggle? Can IU get a pick six, or a special teams TD and force the Spartans to crumble? Will the MSU DBs collapse? That is the only way they win and I don’t see it.
This team may not be what we thought they would be to start the year, but they are a group of great kids and a very good staff. The next two games for MSU should be relatively easy wins. This is about the goals at the end of the year. The Spartans have this week and next to fix their problems before heading to Ann Arbor.
I know the Spartans struggled against EMU. No excuse, they played terrible. I don’t see that this week. Even if they play poorly, they are playing a terrible IU defense and the Spartans will take advantage.
MSU will head to Bloomington and get a ton of reps for the young D and some for the youngsters on offense. Make it MSU 35-3.