Embed from Getty Images After the 38-0 merciless beat down at the hand of the Wisconsin Badgers, Michigan State Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio said “We’re not there, we should be. We’ve got some very good players, but we’re not there.” It is time for the Michigan State administration to take a deep look and decide if they are okay with that.
13 seasons into his Michigan State coaching job, Dantonio should not be talking about what is missing. It is clear what is missing. Last week the loss to Ohio State gave way to a much worse beat down at Wisconsin.
Offense. The Michigan State Spartans offense is no better than they were last season in which the Spartans were near the bottom of the Big Ten in nearly every offensive category.
The Michigan State offensive line has woefully under preformed to this part of the season. No wide receiver has stepped up as a game-breaking threat. The Spartans passing game does not scare anyone.
In what is Dantonio’s biggest failure is the failed attempt to switch coach’s around, has lead to coach’s not having any clue how to mask the offensive units deficiencies. The Michigan State team looks undisciplined on the whole.
With the Spartans next three games against Michigan, Iowa and Penn State the task now seems grueling. Even a much improved Maryland football team looks much better then the Spartans.
This is all on one person. Mark Dantonio. The coach must now look in the mirror and decide if he has it in him or even wants to try to rally the football program, or walk away. There would be no shame if he does walk away. In 13 season Dantonio is the winningest Michigan State head coach ever. He has three Big Ten titles, a Rose Bowl win and a College Football Playoff appearance under his belt.
If he does intend to stay. He must take a good hard look at his program and be willing to bring in new coach’s. He needs to lay down friendships for the sake of his job and the success of the Spartans football program.
Time is ticking. On the Spartans season and the coach who leads them.
Embed from Getty Images For the Michigan State Spartans, a program that has long prided itself on running the ball they have struggled to do that recently. Last season in rushing offense the Spartans were right around 124.8 yards a game finding consistency was a significant reason. Connor Heyward’s 157 yards in the win over Maryland was the only 100-yard rushing game of the season. That’s the only time a Mark Dantonio coached team at Michigan State has managed just one 100-yard game from one of its backs.
Brad Salem was the running backs coach when Le’Veon Bell was rushing for 1,793. Salem spent the last six seasons as Michigan State’s quarterbacks coach. Salem is now returning to leading the running backs as part of the staff shuffling that also saw Salem become the Spartans’ offensive coordinator.
Last season senior LJ Scott missed all but five games with an injury, forcing Connor Heyward, in his first season starting at running back, and freshman La’Darius Jefferson, a high school quarterback, to try to move the ball on the ground.
Heyward showed enough, leading the Spartans with 529 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns while averaging 4.5 yards a carry. This season Elijah Collins, now a redshirt freshman, joins the mix at tailback.
Connor Heyward is sure he can become the go to ball carrier in Salem’s new offense, one that has yet to be revealed to the fans and media. However it shakes out with starter and depth chart, the Spartans need more productions for the teams ball control offense.
There is no telling this early in fall camp what the Michigan State depth chart looks like, or if it rotates to give every back a shot with the first team. The Michigan State Spartans also need better production, more consistency and better health from the offensive line.
In a week or two we should have a better feel from what the Spartans depth chart will look like heading into the 2019-20 College Football season.
Embed from Getty Images As the sweat has dried from last season nightmare, Michigan State football looks to rebound this season. A punishing defense will lead the way. There are many things the Spartans need to clean up from a year ago. If they can, Michigan State will be a dark horse in the Big Ten.
As long as Mark Dantonio has been on the sidelines in East Lansing, defense has not been a problem. Nor will it be again this season. Michigan State led the nation in rush defense last year. Loaded at defensive line, linebackers and a very good, very athletic secondary, the Spartans defense will be scary good this season.
The offense has been well, pretty vanilla under Dantonio’s watch. Quarterback Brian Lewerke, now healthy is a good start. When Lewerke injured his shoulder the Spartans scored seven or fewer points in four of their last seven games. The Spartans have a solid trio of receivers, Cody White, Darrell Stewart Jr. and Jalen Nailor. Yet they all missed time with injuries.
Seven offensive linemen with starting experience return. That should help the pass and run game. Connor Heyward rushed for 529 yards to go with 32 catches last year. He is not a game-breaker, but a solid back. The key to the Spartans offense is health at skilled positions and consistency on the offensive line.
The Michigan State Spartans and Mark Dantonio are looking to make a 12th Bowl appearance. All the pressure is on the Spartans offense. Michigan State could repeat 2018-19 seven wins, or it could yield double digit wins. If the offensive line gels the Spartans will be a dark horse in the Big Ten. The defense will keep them in every game and could steal a win or two for the team.
Embed from Getty Images In 2018’s season to forget. Michigan State’s football team saw their wide receivers two-deep on the depth chart go down with injuries one after another. There was a small silver lining for the Spartans.
The Spartans young receivers have bounced back from the injury problems that plagued them a season ago. Felton Davis II was the teams go-to guy last season. That is until the injury bug hit him as well. Injuries was the theme for the 2018 Spartans football team. It is hard to think of a college football team that has seen so many injuries hit one positional group so hard in one season.
This spring the Michigan State football team has seen Cody White step up. “I think he can easily be our No. 1 guy,” quarterback Brian Lewerke speaking about Cody White. So far during spring practice White is not shying away from becoming the dependable go-to guy for his teammates.
It is no secret the Michigan State Spartans are looking to turn the page after a disastrous 2018 season on the offensive side of the ball. New offensive coordinator Brad Salem, change breathing in some new life to the offense. As well as some new wrinkles in the offensive playbook.
As for the wide receivers, the Spartans need the group to be healthy and regain the production that will help the team advance the ball and give their defense a longer breather. If the Spartans can stay healthy at the wide out position and end the revolving door, it will go a long way in bringing the football team back into the Big Ten title conversation.
To this point in spring practice the Spartans are looking forward to the season, and leaving last seasons injuries and disappointment in the rear view mirror.
Embed from Getty Images The Michigan State Spartans football team will reconvene Tuesday to start spring drills. After a season that fell well below expectations in East Lansing, the Spartans have more questions than answers.
First and foremost Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio, must find some offensive production to go along with one of the countries stingiest defenses. The Spartans offense was abysmal for long stretches last season.
Finding offensive linemen who can stay healthy and play with a united consistency will go along way in getting MSU quarterback Brian Lewerke back on track. The quarterback himself suffered an right shoulder injury against Penn State. He played through the pain and it showed.
In a very un- Michigan State season the Spartans finished 114th in rushing in the country. 124.8 yards per game. While the Spartans were hurt when starting running back LJ Scott missed most of the season due to injury. What hurt Michigan State most was lack of quality depth at the tailback position.
One thing for fans and media to monitor is in the Red Box Bowl loss to Oregon, Michigan State went to no-huddle, up-tempo offense. It is unclear if that is the direction Dantonio plans to explore more of.
While defense is not usually an issue, Michigan State does have some depth concern. Gone to graduation are defensive tackle Gerald Owens, safety Matt Morrissey, linbackers Byron Bullough and Grayson Miller along with defensive end Dillon Alexander. That is a lot to have to replace.
It is a real head scratcher that Dantonio did not bring in new coaches. But he simple reshuffled existing coaches already on his staff. There are time new coaches and fresh voices are what is needed. This is the single most fascinating part of the Spartans spring practice.
How will player react to the same coaches in a new role? Sometimes it goes bad. Once in a while it works for a short time.
Embed from Getty Images Michigan State was forecasted to have a good season. Injuries and inconsistent play were too much for the Spartans to overcome. So off to Santa Clara California they head.
Fresh off a 7-5 campaign Michigan State will face off against the 8-4 Oregon Ducks from the Pac-12. In a 3 p.m. Fox sports televised game.
The two teams last squared off in 2015. A game that saw the Spartans come away with a 31-28 victory. The two teams are 3-3 against each other all time.
After a few seasons out of the spotlight Oregon is back in a Bowl game. Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio has a 5-5 Bowl record.
Bowl games are important as they set up recruiting season. It is a selling point for would be athletes to see a school they may attend in action.
All time in Bowl games Michigan State is 12-15. From 2007-2015 the Spartans set a school record with 9 consecutive Bowl appearances.
Michigan State and Oregon are evenly matched. Both teams have had defensive issues mostly due to youth. While both teams starting quarterbacks have struggled both in play and with health.
Look for the Spartans to try to establish a running game and grind out the clock while giving their young defense a break.
Oregon is well the Oregon of old. They can score in a hurry. They try to out score teams with little defense as is the case with much of the Pac-12 schools.
It should be an interesting game. December 31. Be sure to tune in.