Scouting Report and Prediction: Michigan State vs. Youngstown State Penguins
A look at this week’s opponent…
The Penguins come into the High Cathedral of the Spartan Nation with a record of 2-0. A 1AA team they are loaded with BCS coaching talent and a stable of very talented players. They could be the Spartans toughest opponent of the pre-season.
When MSU has the ball…
Connor Cook will get the start. He still has limited reps as a QB and this is a great chance for him to seize the moment. He needs to make better decisions with the ball, both with his passing technique and running.
Cook was a highly prized recruit and is very talented. MSU sits poised for a new era and he won’t get many more chances to show what he can do if he doesn’t. This, right now, is the most critical moment of his young football career. He has to create and make things happen.
We will also see Tyler O’Connor. This highly prized recruit is also loaded with talent. He has yet to get anywhere close to a fair shot, but time is running out on the Spartans to get the ship righted offensively for 2013. Fair or not (we will discuss the entirety of the QB situation after the year), reality is where I live and he will get his chance to show he deserves more.
Dantonio has a fierce dislike of any sense of entitlement (I agree with him), and when O’Connor and Cook get their respective chances on Saturday, they have to take control. There will be some big decisions based off of their play that will impact not only Spartan Football, but themselves for years to come. They wanted this time, they craved the big stage, and they are squarely on it.
Fortunately for both of them, they are doing it against YSU and not Notre Dame next week. As the Irish sit back and salivate for the chance to face the Spartans, MSU has the pleasure of facing the Penguins.
Damion Terry…I will be stunned if the youngster plays. I will have a Q/A article up tonight and in it I get into a lot of detail as to why. If he plays it is an open admission by the staff that Cook AND O’Connor are not viable options. IF he played, I would expect Maxwell to be your starter against Notre Dame with Terry as the backup hoping to prep him for the B1G schedule.
Dantonio talked about the difficulty of playing multiple QBs earlier this week. He said, “It’s tough to get three quarterbacks ready, first of all. It’s almost impossible to get four. Tough to get three. You can get two. Usually when you’re repping throughout a game week, you’re number one quarterback gets most of the reps. He gets probably 65% of the reps, I would say.”
He added, “That’s what you’re trying to figure out. You want to get to the one. I think that’s important we get to the one. At the same time, I felt compelled to look at the number of points we’re putting up on the board, the explosive plays that are happening, make decisions based on that in that football game on Saturday because I think it is my job to provide opportunities for people.”
IF Terry steps on the field it changes the look (not saying good or bad, just reality) of Spartan football for many years.
I was asked this week if I did not like Terry’s game. Nothing could be farther from the truth. He is a young man with incredible talent. Just like Cook and O’Connor and Maxwell. He is a freshman, a freshman that didn’t show up until July, which spent a ton of time in camp getting fourth string reps. A freshman who if he was a legit candidate should have played in game one (was injured last week after hitting his hand on a helmet) and simply hasn’t had the time to be put in the best position to succeed. As soon as this season is over, no matter who is your starter, he has to be in contention to win the job next season.
I expect to see a package of runs designed for R.J. Shelton, both from the WR and the hybrid RB spot, and MSU has to find a way to employ the TE position. Dantonio was not pleased with some of the play calling last week and I expect much greater attention to be paid to details of personnel groups and placement on the field as it relates to what the Spartans use and do.
YSU is going to stack the box. They are also going to come after MSU. They will dare the Spartans to go at them. If the MSU QBs are on and actually have teammates that catch the ball, it is game set and match against this 1AA opponent. If the Spartans fail to execute, YSU can beat them.
Who will create?
When MSU is on defense…
MSU is salivating at this. YSU runs an offense similar to Indiana, but they do have a lot of OSU in them. The Spartans handled OSU well, but struggled against the IU parts. That is why I expect the well-coached Penguins to use as much of the IU offense as they can gather and even have some new wrinkles.
That is fine. This isn’t about YSU; this is about MSU. They are going to bring a punishing brand of football and see if the Penguins can take the heat and the pain. As always, Narduzzi craves pressure and as my father used to say, “You can’t complete a pass when you are laying on your (butt).” This is the most physical defense YSU will face. Because they will go to the air and MSU will bring pressure, if they can get a man loose and get a score, their confidence level will soar.
Remember the rule of five. If MSU wins that, this game is over. For those who don’t remember it, it has to do with sacks and turnovers. If the Spartans have three sacks and give up two that means they are plus one. If they then get four turnovers and give up only one that means they are plus three. That would give them a plus four for the day. They want to get to a plus five ratio at least every game.
It would be nice if the MSU offense would come off of their summer vacation now that school is in session and show up. It has been nothing short of a pathetic display. Every member of the offensive staff is coaching for their job in 2014.
There isn’t one position on the offense that has shined. Some individuals have looked better than others, but as an entire whole, coaches and players, they have struggled. Some you can explain and accept. Some are baffling. They need to dig deep and show pride and produce.
To me, the offense this week is about pride. Period. Who has it? Who doesn’t? It is about who wants it more. This week, on this stage, is what football is about. What MSU offensive coach or player says, “Not me! I am sick of this,” and picks this team up on their back and does something special.
College football produces heroes. Saturday at the High Cathedral of the Spartan Nation an offensive coach or player, or multiple, can show their talents and abilities and say no more. One can make a run carrying opponents on their back, catch a ball in the back of the endzone that shouldn’t have been caught, make a throw that is impossible to do, or call a play or inspire a schematic adjustment that wills this team. Maybe on one play, they not only block their man, but get down the field and pancake a DB that gets a QB loose for a score.
Who will step up? Who will fix this? I am sick of writing about failure and disappointment. It has been 15 games. ENOUGH! Who wants it? Who wills it? Who takes it? While others are bemoaning failure there is some rugged individualist who will DO IT. There is someone who will come out of this the hero. There is someone. Who is he? I do not know; that is why this game is played. While others will talk about a bad play call, a missed pass, a fumble or a drop, this reporter is looking for something else. Who will emerge?
Is there a walk on? Is there a previous underperforming player who says, “This ain’t happening anymore.” No more whining, no more finger pointing. I just want to see this one intangible: who makes it happen?
Life is not about who can’t…it is about who will.
I tell you this one story.
Two men aboard a boat in the late 1800s headed for India. Both men are shoe salesman. They arrive and one sends a message home, “Do not send shoes. No one here wears them, I have wasted my savings, I am coming home.”
The other sends a message back, “You will never believe how lucky I am. No one here wears shoes. Mortgage your homes and send me all the shoes you can. We will make our fortune here. I am so glad I took a chance and risked it all.”
This is your moment Spartan offense…coaches and players. Here is where assistants prove they deserve to be coordinators, coordinators prove worthy of head coaching chances, and players show why they deserve to become legends.
This is why I love college football. The story is unfinished. The final chapter has not been written. The story is not over. The Spartans will leave 3-0. The story is what we long for.
On my beloved Grandmother’s tomb are two dates. The one that shows the day she was born and the one that shows the date that she dies. Those define her, but between them is one little thing. It is a simply -…the dash. The dash is the smallest part of the tombstone and it represents the biggest part of her.
I could fill volumes of stories that the little dash represents, but suffice to say you get my point.
Paging all offensive players and coaches: Live the dash! On this day, at that moment, live the dash. Do something on Saturday that blasts you off the pile of underachievement to the place of greatness and glory. Do not let your failures define you and make no mistake MSU offensive coaches and players, 2013 to this point is defined by your failure.
Like cheetah hunting on the Serengeti…the game is on. This is your moment; your chance and your game to make a statement. Others fear greatness; they want to stay with the security of the pack. YSU thinks you are anemic. They think based on your play that this 1AA group of players can come in here to your house and overachieve.
Get off the junk pile or woe is me and become the hunter. That is the intangible. Show the country, your head coach, your position coach, and the Spartan Nation, that the first two weeks are not who you are and be the hunter. Go on the prowl, live the dash, and do something great.
I have no doubt you leave 3-0; I just can’t wait to see the dash. The question is this. Will you do something in that stadium Saturday that when people gather at your grave they talk about? Will something happen on Saturday that when people look at your dash they think of this day, this game in this stadium?
The first part of my post game article is written: Spartans improve to 3-0.
The last part of my post game article is written: They now move on to a much tougher test against the Irish.
So who among you will fill in the pages between? Who will step up and live the dash and will it be because of failure of success? Is this pack of unsuspecting Penguins coming into a woodshed full of hunters seeing you as their prey or have they grabbed a wounded Dawg by the tail and they are the prey?
Live the dash. Be the hunter.
Make it 24-10 Spartans.