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The 2016 TUS Football Report: Indiana Edition
Sep 30th, 2016 by 89 Chemistry

To put things briefly, Dantonio’s Spartans could lose to the Hoosiers for the first time in eight contests.

If they lose, they will be the first MSU team to lose to Indiana since 2006.   If they win, they will have shown only that they can beat a lower-echelon B1G team after a huge, unexpected loss.

That team also had a bad Game Three.   Indiana out-gained undefeated Wake Forest by 259 yards, but the normally high-octane quarterback Richard Lagow [jersey #21] also threw five interceptions.   Plus, IU had a field goal blocked.   Nonetheless, the Hoosiers lost by only five points.

Although Devine Redding [#34] had five straight 100-yard rushing games, Wake Forest contained him—implying that MSU can make IU one-dimensional.   But if IU’s two best offensive linemen are able to play, the Hoosiers have a chance to keep MSU honest.   Meanwhile, IU’s passing game, with its receivers for almost every occasion, is the B1G’s best at moving the ball.   The performances of safety Demetrious Cox and nickel back Jalen Watts-Jackson last week will prove disastrous if they are duplicated Saturday night.   And if Riley Bullough does not play, defensive adjustments may suffer at times.

The B1G’s worst defensive line should allow MSU to run, and the Hoosiers’ pass rush is among the B1G’s weakest.   But IU’s back seven is markedly better; the defense is not going to yield seven touchdowns as it has in recent years.

MSU is used to night games.   But is it better than in 2012?   IU certainly is.   Projected median outcome: Spartans 27, Hoosiers 24.

 

ADDITIONAL DETAILS AND EXPANDED REMARKS

That huge, unexpected loss was, of course, to Wisconsin—which has now beaten two Top Ten teams for the first time since 1962.   For MSU, it was the first B1G game since 2011 in which it did not score a TD—and the first such home conference game since 1985.   O’Connor—who now has the B1G’s largest interception rate [6.1%]—has been the primary focus of blame.   But Dantonio was in the unusual position of calling out RB pass-blocking technique—and he implied that protect recognition, execution, and physicality were all shortcomings of those blocking for O’Connor.   Still, offensive coordinator Dave Warner and he did take O’Connor to task.   “I think he needs to handle the pressure better,” Warner said.   “He threw off of his back foot a couple times and got the ball picked.”

Dantonio assured the press that the players’ toughness, effort, and leadership were all in place last Saturday.   “There were enough good things that did happen and you saw enough good players playing well and hard that I think our future is still very bright”

That may be.   But it will depend on improvement in check downs, targeting stealth, and accuracy on O’Connor’s part.   The offense must also learn to adjust its protections and learn to either change plays at the line or call time out at critical moments.   And the staff bears some responsibility for not identifying, sharing, and propagating information that might have improved pass protection before the Wisconsin game was out of reach; e.g., Warner did not know RB blocking was an issue until he saw game film.

It will also depend on how well MSU’s talented backup linemen can perform.   Shane Jones [#49] did well vs. Wisconsin in place of R. Bullough.   But now Star LB Jon Reschke is out indefinitely with injury; it is unclear who will be in charge of setting schemes, stunts, and adjustments.   (Dantonio, in passing, did indicate that safety Grayson Miller [#44] could relieve Andrew Dowell [#5] at Star if necessary—which implies that Dantonio is confident that Cox will learn from last game’s mistakes.)

Naturally, the Hoosiers want to brighten their future.   Their pass protection—and especially their run game—will be enhanced if their O line is fully healthy.   Right tackle Dimitric Camiel [#77] is above average by B1G standards.   But Dan Feeney [#67] is probably the best guard in college football and can really make a difference; he is one of a very few college players that could block Malik McDowell one-on-one with any regularity.   Without these blockers, the Hoosiers have been giving up several tackles for loss per game.

Lagow is not mobile.   But he leads the B1G in passing yards per game [334]; per completion [15.9]; and per attempt [9.9].   Because of Wake Forest, he does have the B1G’s third-highest INT rate [5.0%]—and it appears that pass rushers got into his head enough for him to draw and unsportsmanlike penalty.   Despite the INTs, he is still fifth in pass efficiency and in completion percentage [62.4%] among B1G QBs.

He has three main targets. Nick Westbrook [#15] and Ricky Jones [#4] average nine catches per game between the two—and 21+ yards per reception.   Westbrook, in particular, generates tons of yardage after the catch, and his height has contributed to his TD tally (four in three games).   (Jones, for his part, had 208 receiving yards last week.)   Mitchell Paige [#87] averages five catches/game and reliably moves the chains.   He also had two punt-return TDs last year.   Lagow averages seven completions/game to other Hoosiers (three to RBs).   Copious passing and no-huddle drives reduce the Hoosier seconds/play average to a somewhat fast 23.6 [cf. MSU’s somewhat slow 27.8].   The pace also means that the Hoosiers have rushed for more yards/game than the Spartans despite the parity of their yardage/rush.   (Which is 4.25.   Not good—although the Spartans’ endurance of the Badgers gives them something of an excuse.)

Wake Forest came into Bloomington averaging less than 250 yards allowed per game.   The Hoosiers amassed 611 yards on the Deacons—496 on Lagow’s passing alone.

IU’s offense, like MSU’s, has taken ~17 yards to generate each point scored.   (The Report considers ~14 y/pt to be average.)   Situational conversions have been problematic for IU: Its final-down conversion rate is the B1G’s worst, and its TD percentage inside the red zone is second worst [40%].   Indeed, its general red zone performance is the third worst in the nation; 40% of the time it has failed to score.   The Hoosiers have yielded two turnovers/game (4th-worst in the B1G); the Spartans, slightly more.

Indiana hired a new defensive coordinator.   He runs a 4-2-5 defense; the fifth DB is a “Husky” and is more of a LB-DB hybrid than a nickel back.   The two LBs are quite good; between them they average ~15 tackles/game, including two TFLs/game.   Cornerback Rashard Fant [#16] averages two defended passes per game—third in the nation.   (He is tied with Darian Hicks.)   Fant is also 3rd in the B1G in punt-return average [10.3 y/return].   Notably, safety Jonathan Crawford [#9] has recovered two fumbles in three games.

Both defenses seize turnovers at the decent rate of two per game, and both are very good at limiting opponents’ first downs [~18/g].   But both are below average in stopping final-down conversions—and even poorer in getting sacks.   The Hoosiers are 3rd in the B1G in pass-efficiency defense, and while IU gives up a respectable 6.3 yards/throw; MSU is nearly the B1G’s worst at 7.2 y/t.   The Hoosiers are 4th in the B1G in INTs/g; in fact, they have two pick-sixes on the year.   In contrast, MSU recovers a B1G second-best one opponent fumble/game.

IU is pretty good at preventing adversarial TDs in the red zone [allowed on 44% of opportunities].   MSU is quite bad—allowing adversarial TDs 80% of the time.   Unfortunately, MSU is the worst team in the FBS in preventing red-zone scores; it has yet to deny points to any foe on any RZ opportunity.

Both teams are working on improving special teams.   IU has allowed two kicks to be blocked; only two FBS teams have allowed more.   Its blocked punt rate [7%] is worse than 95% of other teams.   Its net punting is 4.5 y/punt worse than MSU’s.   (MSU leads the B1G in net punting.)   Kickoffs may be a wash—although Devonte Williams [#7] is probably better at returns than any Spartan thus far in 2016.   Griffin Oakes was the Bakken-Andersen Kicker of 2015; he keeps his kicks strictly in bounds.

Expect IU to have four more penalties than MSU.  (IU’s are generally of average distance, per penalty.)   MSU should win time of possession by about five minutes.   Odd-numbered quarters are when IU seems to do best.   The Spartans have been best in the second quarter—and worst in the fourth.

 

MSU players will honor Mylan Hicks by displaying the numeral “6” on the backs of helmets, and by wearing black shoes and socks.   (M. Hicks preferred black Spartan gear to other styles.)   No announcement has been made on uniforms, but black would be a viable option—because, it recognition of breast cancer, the Hoosiers are wearing pink.

The 2016 TUS Football Report: Wisconsin Edition
Sep 23rd, 2016 by 89 Chemistry

To put things briefly, this is an unfortunate week for Wisconsin to visit MSU.

The inaugural episode of BTN Tailgate will be held before the game.   By itself, that would perk up a normally mild-mannered noontime atmosphere.   But posthumous honors for [MSU punter] Mike Sadler” will ensure a keen emotional pitch for Spartans and their fans.

It is tough enough for the Badgers to play their first game beyond Wisconsin’s borders where UW has not won since 2002.   But they also will be without four key backups; their kick returner; and their star place-kicker.   And their starting left guard; tailback Corey Clement [jersey #6]; and another key TB are all questionable for Saturday.   And a redshirt freshman QB will be starting for his first time.

Presumably, the chips will be on the Badgers’ shoulders.   They will be bouncing back from a poor game last week, and are certainly nauseated with Rocket video clips and Spartan hype.   Their defense is monstrously more stifling than those of Furman and Notre Dame—and their kickoffs and punts will often ensure long fields for MSU.   Quarterback Alex Hornibrook [#12], in limited action, has been more potent than Tyler O’Connor has been.   A replay of 2015’s MSU-OSU game—with MSU in OSU’s role—is an unlikely but ironic possibility.

The Spartans will likely win.   But no Dantonio team has beaten UW by more than 10 points.   Ultimately, the fitness of banged-up Badgers—especially Clement—will determine whether the final score looks like 24-17 or 24-10.

 

ADDITIONAL DETAILS AND EXPANDED REMARKS

Clement is 5’11’ and weighs 227 pounds.   “[He has] got great change of direction, gets vertical,” according to Dantonio.   “He’s powerful; he can run.”   He has a career 7.0 yards per carry average and is second in the B1G in rushing touchdowns per game this year.   Wisconsin likes to rotate at least three TBs—which undoubtedly enhances their ability to advance the ball.   That rotation will now necessitate less palatable options with or without Clement.

Clement’s backup is team captain Dare Ogunbowale [#23]—a pretty good back that has been only fair this year.   He and the non-Clement TBs have had trouble hitting holes at times, according to Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.   Ogunbowale had a 41-yard kick return last week and may do more return work—especially if Clement can play.   Like the Spartans, the Badgers are in the bottom third of the B1G in y/carry average—partly because both teams have rushed over 45 times per game and defenses have adjusted accordingly.

(MSU’s Gerald Holmes [#24] currently has the B1G’s second-longest rush [73 y] this year.   LJ Scott—who shares Mike Sadler’s jersey number—is third in the B1G in y/game.)

Hornibrook has looked cool under pressure and is a particularly accurate downfield passer.   He is more mobile than the QB he displaced but does not have a cannon for an arm.   He has averaged 10.2 y/throw on 17 attempts versus mid-major defenses; while one of his four incompletions was intercepted, the receiver was mostly at fault.   Two of his targets—a 6’6” tight end [#81] and wide receiver Jazz Peavey [#11]—each have had 100-yard games.   Peavey is generally thought to be the biggest quick and deep threat, but Robert Wheelwright [#15] led all Badger receivers in TDs last year.   The Badgers have passed ~30 times per game; given their TB and left guard worries and MSU’s run defense, they may pass more on Saturday.

(The UW offensive line is sophomore-based but averages 322 lbs.   It is fifth in the B1G at preventing tackles for loss, but Potrykus thought blocks were being missed at the line of scrimmage last weekend—against a poor D-line.   UW’s center is one of the B1G’s best, but not good enough to routinely block McDowell by himself.   Note that if #75 is not the left guard, the Badgers will probably be in trouble.)

Passing might cut into UW’s time of possession.   But with an average of 38.4 minutes/g [cf. MSU’s 34.2 min/g], it might be able to spare the time.   Another feature of Wisconsin, according to Scott DeCamp of MLive, is its dominant starts: It has out-gained foes in the first quarter this year by an average of 147 yards to four.   The problem is that UW—like MSU—has not scored as many points as its yardage totals would normally imply.   Worse still, its injured place-kicker scored 1/3 of UW’s points (including 2.67 field goals per game).   The replacement is supposedly good, but UW’s scoring is bound to suffer on Saturday despite MSU’s minor deficiency in yards/point allowed.

(Among qualifying QBs, O’Connor is 5th, 6th, and 9th nationally in pass efficiency, completion percentage [73%], and yards/throw [9.8], respectively)

But UW has a strong overall defense that will help mitigate its struggles on O.   It runs a 3-4 to take advantage of one of the nation’s best linebacker groups.   Outside LB Vince Biegel [#47] is one of the B1G’s (and, therefore, the nation’s) best; Lindy’s magazine called him the B1G’s “best pass rusher”.   (His counterpart is OLB TJ Watt [#42].)   Expect Biegel to tackle a Spartan for a loss.   The ILBs are among the better B1G LBs.   Olive Sagapolu [#65] is one of the B1G’s better nose tackles, and their defensive ends are above average.. This septet is the heart of the B1G’s second-best scoring defense and has held foes to 3.3 y/rush.

(Although MSU has given up more points than UW, the Spartan rushing D is a B1G-best 2.5 y/rush allowed.)

Superficially, both teams have among the weaker pass Ds in the B1G; each has given up ~7.1 y/throw.   But MSU has faced a more potent pass attack than UW has seen.   (To be sure, UW has faced tougher defenses, overall, than MSU has.)   Not surprisingly, UW’s cornerbacks are averaging three passes defended (= those broken up + intercepted) per game—and MSU’s CBs are averaging 2.5/game.   If last week’s game against (0-3) Georgia State was instructive, quick passes can harry the Badgers.   “They were able to get some really explosive plays off,” in the words of CB Sojourn Shelton.   Spartan fans know the feeling—and this is an instance where it is better to do unto others…

Sidebar: Wide receiver RJ Shelton was recruited by MSU to be a tailback.   He is from Wisconsin; both of his parents were athletes for the Badgers.   Chris Solari of the LSJ wrote about the “ball-flip” passes that Shelton has been capitalizing on recently.   “That ball-toss does two things,” writes Solari.   “One, it turns a potential fumble into an incompletion if the ball hits the turf.   Two, it eliminates the slowdown of the sometimes clunky handoff procedure and generates more rhythm to flow for the receiver getting the ball.”   Note that the flip must be forward for the first point to be valid.   Also, classical handoffs allow quicker ball security; there is an elevated risk of something going wrong compared to the otherwise less-productive rushing play.   So far, rewards have far exceeded risks.

Wisconsin’s D is very good at stopping 3rd and 4th downs; while MSU is strong on the former, its 4th-down defense leaves much to be desired.   Furthermore, the Spartans appear to be among the B1G’s worst at stopping teams from scoring TDs in the red zone (thanks to Notre Dame).   And frankly, MSU’s pass rush (three sacks in two games) is anemic.   When asked what MSU might do to improve its pass rush, Solari opined, Need to increase pressure up the middle.   Might mean keeping McDowell inside more often, getting more snaps out of [D tackle] R. Williams [#99] – that’s the best combo right now.”   There have been signs of improvement; the Report expects defensive end Demetrius Cooper [#98] to register a TFL on Saturday at some point.   And separately, MSU’s one fumble recovery per game is fairly good.

Unfortunately, the Spartans and Badgers are tied for 2nd-worst in the B1G for interceptions thrown [one/game].   If the run defenses have their way, that number may increase for one team.   O’Connor has been bailed out by receivers here and there; losing the turnover battle is perhaps the most likely way MSU could lose this game.

(The Spartans’ one sack/game allowed is 3rd-best in the B1G.)

Scoring chances might be infrequent Saturday.   It is encouraging that MSU is perfect in the red zone this year (i.e., touchdowns 100% of the time).   Wisconsin has been poor in the red zone—with Bart Houston at QB.   But with Hornibrook at the helm, UW has been perfect in the red zone, too.   And while UW is one of the B1G’s least-penalized teams, the Spartans are the most penalized (in yards/game) by a wide margin.

(Paul Chryst—Bret Bielema’s offensive coordinator at UW (2005-2011)—has four 4th-quarter comeback wins in his 16 games as the Badgers’ head coach.)

With field position so important, MSU’s substandard punt returns and B1G-worst kickoff returns are liabilities.   Darrell Stewart [#25] will likely return more kickoffs; but it appears the coaches still have faith in RJ Shelton on punts.   Both punters in this game are good at placing the ball near the end zone while avoiding touchbacks.   Kickoff coverage has been good for MSU [net 44 y/kickoff], but UW is 3rd-best in the nation [net 58 y/kickoff].

Assuming UW has all of its potential personnel playing, MSU should be able to match UW’s rushing, but neither team will make much progress.   Despite complaints, the MSU secondary is pretty good, whereas the UW secondary is average at best.   A couple of injuries in the Badger back seven exacerbate the differences.   Unless Hornibrook is excellent and lucky, the Spartans should be able to overcome any field-position deficits and pull ahead in the second half.   Wisconsin will probably not be able to pull off a comeback in that scenario—and the Spartan home winning streak over the Badgers will extend to five.

 

Stripe the Stadium!   Even sections wear green, odd sections wear white.   V4MSU!

Rocket, the LEGO version
Sep 20th, 2016 by Tobacco Road Spartan

image

Gold Yeller does it again, recreating Rocket with LEGOs. Bret Bielema has the same befuddled look on his minifig as he does in real life.

 

Courtesy of BTN: https://shar.es/1xs8hs

NCAAF Week #3 Debrief
Sep 18th, 2016 by Jeffrey Lubeck

What did you learn from week #3 of NCAA Football?

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MSU’s Gerald Holmes runs free for a 70 yard Touchdown with the Notre Dame defense vainly in pursuit. Out of the picture and even further behind are the media Talking Heads who predicted a loss for MSU.

MSU at Notre Dame Game Thread
Sep 17th, 2016 by Kindle

Ed Davis is back in a Spartan uniform!! #GoGreen

Pregame Tweets:

42m42 minutes ago

MSU wearing white pants and tops with traditional green helmet. Could tell you more if ND folks would raise the press box curtains.

Dantonio on WRJ pregame show: “We brought some freshmen down here who might not play, but we want them to experience this.”

Michigan State dress list out … all four freshmen receivers have traveled — Corley, Chambers, Jackson and Layne

Dantonio on pregame radio: “This will be an opportunity for Tyler O’Connor to really get his feet on the ground as a quarterback.”

Midfield before MSU went back to locker room, three players visibly firing up the whole team: Riley Bullough, Chris Frey & Delton Williams.

Flyover during anthem ending. Couldn’t see it, but certainly heard it. Had to have been low enough to miss blimp above Notre Dame Stadium.

 

 

 

The 2016 TUS Football Report: Notre Dame Edition
Sep 16th, 2016 by 89 Chemistry

To put things briefly, this game is up for grabs—and 60 minutes of football could well end in a tie.

Presumably, the MSU that played Furman was an MSU with two weeks of preseason prep remaining.   Two weeks to develop its personnel and units.   Two weeks to perfect a classified arsenal of formations, schemes, and plays.

Well, that time is up.   The real season begins with a rescue operation for one sorely missed Megaphone Trophy.

The 18th-ranked Irish have been well scouted.   They have ample talent across the board.   They are two FBS games more seasoned than the Spartans.   Their coach knows how to beat MSU.   Their stadium will be louder than ever.   They have the potential to win big if State does not bring its A-game.

But they are every bit as inexperienced in years as the Spartans are.   Some of their talent is not playing up to par.   And they are vulnerable.

Both teams will try to establish the run—and to stop the run.   But it is passing that will animate this game.   Both teams have one of the nation’s most efficient passers—and both have poorly-esteemed pass defenses.   Notre Dame’s secondary is more depleted than MSU’s was at any point last year.   But baiting officials worked for the Irish before, and may work again.

Receiving yards will pile up.   Chains will be moved.   The Spartans will show a few surprises.   And a 20-20 tie will hardly survive the third quarter.

But given how little is really known of MSU, this is ultimately anyone’s game.

 

EXPANDED REMARKS AND ADDITIONAL DETAILS

Arguments abound, of course, for selective people to assert victory or doom for either team.   The Report suspends consideration of the Furman game except to note it was a poor showing for MSU.   In that superficial context, note that when Coach Dantonio’s Spartans have entered a bye week after what is perceived to be a poor performance, they have come out markedly stronger.   This was especially true after the 2013 loss to the Irish.   The Spartans lost 17-13—in part because the Irish threw “twenty” deep passes, by Dantonio’s count.   The main problem, though, was an anemic, mistake-prone offense.   After the bye week, the Spartans proceeded to beat Iowa and eight other B1G teams by at least 10 points in a march to a B1G title more dominant than any seen since 1943.   This is the metamorphosis MSU fans are hoping to see tomorrow night.

But history is not so simple.   MSU is a seven-point Las Vegas underdog in this game.   And while Dantonio’s Spartans have a reputation of beating the odds, those beatings never start until October.   Since 2007, MSU has been an underdog in early (August/September) games six times.   MSU has lost all six of them—including three to Notre Dame.   In fact, Dantonio’s teams have under-performed the point spread by an average six points per game against Coach Brian Kelly’s Irish; in four games, Kelly’s teams have outscored MSU 99-63.   Dantonio speaks of mountains; the September Underdog Hump remains one of the few his Spartans have yet to scale.

Additionally, Dantonio’s Spartans have usually under-performed in night games played on enemy turf.   (The exception was at Maryland in 2014.)   Most recently, this happened after a bye week—when the Spartans lost a high-scoring game at Nebraska last year.

Tomorrow night, the challenge will be exacerbated: Notre Dame Stadium will be louder than ever because of new buildings erected astride the stadium.

In summary, the Irish have seasonal, environmental, and historical head-coaching advantages over the Spartans—on top of an extra game’s debugging against tougher competition.   Furthermore, MSU is at best unproven in most of its competitive aspects.   One would think the Spartans were sure to be blown out.

Those that have seen Notre Dame know better.   Spartan fans are particularly itching to see State get a crack at the Irish defense—and while they might underestimate Notre Dame in some ways, even the Irish coaches recognize a conundrum.   The trouble sprouts from a loss of Notre Dame’s best safety and its 2nd, 3rd, and 4th-best CBs over the last several weeks.   Cole Luke [jersey #36] is one of the best corners MSU will face this season and will likely contain whomever he covers.   Moreover, their SS should be strong in run-D support.   But their free safeties and backup CBs are all true freshman—and the starting CB opposite Luke has been pathetic.   Having a nickel back for damage control helps—and Kelly likes to have one in on third downs as a rule.   Without a nickel back, the Irish will have to forego man-to-man coverage much of the time.

There is the rub.   Job One for Kelly’s D is to stop the run.   His front seven is designed and built to limit pro-style power runners like MSU’s.   But the secondary as it is cannot withstand much early-down passing—and MSU should know it.   On the other hand, playing zone (or an extra DB) effectively takes away the blitzes that defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder relishes—and that bodes ill for a D that has zero sacks on 53 pass attempts this year.     Inevitably, it opens up room for MSU to run.

The Irish D’s problems have mostly been on first downs; they are much better on later downs, and no one should think they are nearly as porous as a typical Big 12 team.   In particular, do not assume that the Texas success on the ground will translate to MSU.   Still, even if O’Connor’s deep ball and the Spartan receivers turn out to be merely serviceable, a balanced Spartan attack can score in the 30s—particularly if, as Kelly seems to think, the back seven have a few tackling issues.

There are, nonetheless, some front-seven Domers to watch for.   Their nose tackles, Daniel Cage [#75] and Jarron Jones [#94] are approximately All-B1G-second-team level (and would be really dangerous if they played simultaneously).   Jones has blocked five kicks in his career.   DE Isaac Rochell [#90] is also projected at about that level and will be a good first test for MSU left tackle David Beedle.[#59].   The LBs are average by B1G standards, but CFB Film Room notes that Nyles Morgan [#5] has 18 tackles and zero misses this year.   (N.b.: If O’Connor checks down, he will probably find his tight ends especially handy.)

Note: One of the Irish players may be wearing #1 instead of his regular number this week.

The Irish have other concerns, too.   They may have the best tackle-guard duo on MSU’s schedule, but it did not grade up to expectations against Texas.   The Irish may have the best kicker-punter combo on MSU’s schedule, but they have not always looked like it, either.   Domer tight ends should be absolutely no problem for MSU.   And playing 12 true freshmen so far this year suggests that their lack of overall experience may have eclipsed MSU’s.

But Notre Dame has a definite edge on special teams.   Wide receiver CJ Sanders [#3] is averaging 25 yards per punt return, and is already being compared to the likes of Golden Tate and Theo Riddick.   (Look for him on a trick play from scrimmage.)   Kickoff coverage is excellent.   The punter has put the ball inside the 20-yard line 1/3 of the time this year—with zero touchbacks.

And the offense, while it is not Baylor or vintage Oregon, can certainly move the ball.   Notre Dame should have one of the better O-lines MSU faces this year—although Kelly seemed to imply this week that it was his single biggest concern against the Spartans   Its RB corps is on a par with MSU’s; Josh Adams [#33] and Dexter Williams [#2] are both averaging over seven yards per carry.   Baseball scion Torii Hunter [#16] may be among the best WRs MSU will face this year; he returns after missing the last five quarters due to concussion concerns.   And 6’5” Equanimeous St. Brown [#6] is a favorite target.   All in all, Kelly seems confident in his receivers’ ability to succeed against MSU’s man-to-man coverage.

If QB DeShone Kizer [#14] gets hurt, the Irish have a fine replacement.   But Kizer has won the starting job and is completing 70% of his passes inside and outside of the red zone.   MSU co-defensive coordinator Mike Tressel raved about him on Wednesday: “I recruited him…   He has an NFL arm and you’ve seen the film.   You know he can run the ball and he’s athletic and he’s a big ol’ body.   He really won’t go down easy.   But, he has the ability that if his read is not there, he can keep the play alive like a Roethlisberger…”   He has 23 carries for 112 net yards and two rushing TDs over two games.   He does, however, tend to migrate away from his protection at times; a good pass rush could cash in on that.

 

For its part, Dantonio indicated that MSU’s bye week included more conditioning than in previous years’ bye weeks.   Tressel indicated they had “a couple pure fundamental practices” as well.   The Report finds this encouraging.   The apparent fitness of WRs RJ Shelton & Felton Davis and LBs Ed Davis & Jon Reschke to play tomorrow is also good news.   These LBs will back-up Chris Frey and Andrew Dowell, respectively.

Two true freshmen (WR Donnie Corley and DT Mike Panasiuk) played vs. Furman; Tressel indicated that one or two more might play tomorrow.   These are DEs Auston Robertson [#94] and Josh King [#12].   Notably, Lindy’s magazine ranked King #2 on its list of “Best Future NFL Prospects” for all incoming B1G freshmen.

 

Kickoff is at 7:42 P.M. EDT tomorrow.   It will be telecast nationally on NBC with Mike Tirico, Doug Flutie, and Kathryn Tappen.

Recruiting News: MSU Targets Overseas Star for 2024 Class
Sep 14th, 2016 by Jeffrey Lubeck

MSU Football would neither confirm or deny it has identified it first recruit for the 2024 Class.  Dave Pruder declined to comment on MSU’s apparent special of request for a XXXXXXL uniform and size 27 EEE shoes.

Recruiting Video has been leaked [here].

College Football Week #2 Comment Central: The No Line Weekend?
Sep 10th, 2016 by Jeffrey Lubeck

College Football 2016/2017 enters its 2nd weekend.  Twenty-three of the of the top 25 ranked teams play this weekend.

Many would support the hype-masters claim that last weekend was the “greatest opening week in college football history.”  And this week’s theme?  How about the No Line Weekend?

Six of the top 25 ranked teams have opponents so weak that there is no posted point spread or over/under line.  It is not mistake and as a point of reference the point spread for the other games involving top 25 teams?  The point spread averages almost 24 points; with Oklahoma giving away 46 points to Louisiana Monroe.  However it should be remembered MSU had a almost 24 point spread with Furman and did not come close to covering.

Below are the No Line Weekend games:

Texas A&M #20 vs. Prairie View (A&M not the scenery on the trip to and from the game).

Georgia #9 vs. Nicholls (State not the Indian Head former currency which might possess more value).

Houston #6 vs. Lamar (College not the guy who served coffee to Northfork Rancher at the Denny’s on U.S. 27 in Marshall).

Florida State #3 vs. Charleston (College not the dance performed by Boston85 and USMC(retired) to kick off each TUS World Tour event).

Ole’ Miss #19 vs. Wofford (often confused with the Waffle House Senatobia Exit I-55 staff team).

LSU #21 vs. Jacksonville State (University not prison team.  The Prison team is too good as it has many former Florida State University players with eligibility remaining).

From All Reports – Izzo fails to be inducted into Hall of Fame
Sep 9th, 2016 by Jeffrey Lubeck

From everything I can see, Tom Izzo was not inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.  Darn… I thought he was elected last spring and was to receive his jacket yesterday and inducted today.  I swear I saw something about it in between reading about Jim Harbaugh and Michigan’s crowning as National Champion in Football for the 2016/2017 season.

I checked the sports websites yesterday and today (such as ESPN). And I also checked and just rechecked the web version of newspapers that would logically write about the subject – such as freep.com.  It appears to be that only Alan Iverson, Yao Ming and SHAQ were selected and inducted.  I cannot find a reference to Tom.  I see stories on the Free Press website Sports Section mentioning verbal commitments from High School Kids to MSU and UofM, and analysis of Michigan’s upcoming game with Central Florida taking the lead story.

Maybe I am confusing Tom Izzo with one of the 491,493 DC and/or Marvel Comic Super Hero’s appearing in a summer 2016 movie?  Did anyone see Kenau Reeves as CoachMan? The Computer Generated Images (CGI) of CoachMans’ 1-3-1 defense were super-cool!

Should I call Tom to confirm he is still coaching and actually has coached the past few years?

Major League Baseball’s One-Month Sprint
Sep 6th, 2016 by Jeffrey Lubeck

Five of the six month regular season is in the books.  Unless there is some unprecedented collapse, the divisional races are pretty much over – except for the AL East and maybe the NL West.  The Wildcard races are wide open, with the Detroit Tigers in the middle of things in the American League.

Division Leaders

AL East – Toronto – title still completely up for grabs.  How close? Two bad series in a row could take them from 1st to out of the post-season.

AL Central – Cleveland – not losing much ground even with the Detroit Tigers having the best record in MLB since the all-star break.

AL West – Texas – in a walk.

NL East – Washington – if only congress could have a similar record or the presidential nominees of the two major parties have similar favor-ability ratings.

NL Central – Chicago – Can the curse be ended?

NL West – Los Angeles – Dodgers starting to creep away from Giants.

So who do you think is going to make the post-season as a wild-card?

Which teams in the American League will be the Wild-Card Entries (Select 2)

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Which teams in the National League will be the Wild-Card Entries (Select 2)

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