Embed from Getty Images Sports are all about win now and what have you done for me lately. Michigan State’s football team is coming off back-to-back sup-par seasons. Michigan State football has never been a national powerhouse consistently. Head coach Mark Dantonio has had good seasons. What comes next?
Dantonio, started off with a bang when he arrived in East Lansing. Three Big Ten championships, five bowl game wins, a Rose Bowl victory, a College Football Playoff appearance not to mention three Spartans selected in the first round of the NFL draft over the last 10 seasons. Not bad at all.
But then, two of the past three saw a sharp decline in wins , 2016 and 2018, t have not been so kind to Spartan football team or it’s fan base. What really hurt the Spartans last season was the offense showed little to no improvement at all. In fact in rushing yards and years from the line of scrimmage the Spartans actually regressed.
It was so bad on the offensive side of the ball last season that Michigan State saw their points per game dropped below 19. What is a tough pill for the Spartan faithful to swallow is Dave Warner is still on the coaching staff. Yes, he has been demoted from offensive coordinator, but the fact that Dantonio either can not or does not want to recognize his team is struggling with Warner is enough to frustrate Spartan fans. Reshuffling the coaching staff will not help.
There have been whispers on the Michigan State campus and around East Lansing, how much longer will Dantonio have to prove his coaching method works? One thing the coach has going for him is defense wins championships. Michigan State has a top 10 defense. But points still need to be scored.
I believe Dantonio needs a good season to continue to be the head football coach. He needs to show he can make a change or two in his program because if he does not, he might not be the guy making decisions anymore.
Embed from Getty Images In 2018 Michigan State football’s defensive line became the nation’s best run-stopping defense. Kenny Willekes emerged as an All-American. Raequan Williamsand Mike Panasiuk formed an impenetrable wall up the middle. The defensive line is very good, but there are questions.
For the Spartans defense to improve during the 2019 season they must find more depth to combat high-tempo offenses which is a major concern. So is generating more of a pass rush.
Michigan State’s front four held opponents to 77.9 yards per game on the ground, which was 17.2 yards fewer than the next closest run defense Mississippi State . That included limiting eight teams to fewer than 65 yards. The Spartans were so disruptive against the run that opponents averaged only 30.2 carries per game.
The Spartans need to find a pass rush plain and simple. The Spartans managed just 28 sacks all season, including just seven in the final six games. It does no good to stop the run, only to give it all back on a pass. That was a broken record last season.
Stopping the run only to give up a huge pass, the Spartans defense could not get off the field. It must change for Michigan State to find more consistency to their game.
If Michigan State can count on the offense to extend drives and score, if the Spartans defense can find a pass rush, they will be a force in the Big Ten race. If not the 2019 season will look an awful lot like last season.
After one of the worst offensive season in the history of Michigan State, All eyes have been and are on the Spartans offense this spring. The new offense will be on showcase this Saturday during Michigan State’s spring game.
Brad Salam will show off his new offense this coming weekend in the Green and White game. All eyes and every media microscope will be fixed squarely on the offensive unit, they simply can not be as deplorable as last seasons. At least that is the hope coming from East Lansing.
While spring games are usually dialed back in terms of plays, expect the Spartans to drop hints of what they have been working on to improve over last seasons woeful bunch. Head Spartans coach Mark Dantonio said “we are not going to bag everything from last season.” That may be good, but it may be bad as well.
Brad Salam said he understands the pull back. That teams do not show everything April 13, but wait until the season kickoff to start showing how far the team has come. One interesting thing is that Salam said he liked plays from last seasons playbook and has made a few tweaks.
One can presume because Dantiono did not bring in fresh coaches that Michigan State will be more of the same. Given Salam’s comments, it will be interesting to see what changes have been made. After the disappointment of last season the Spartan fan base was not thrilled to hear the playbook had bee tweaked. They were hoping for a complete overhaul.
Coaches talk, players play, writers write. Coaches talk is only confirmed by action. Michigan State must show that they have grown since last season. That shuffling coaches and hoping for a different result is not a grasp at straws. It will be hard to hind come April 13, what the Green and White spring game takes place.
Michigan State must show enough that they have changed or else.
Embed from Getty Images Not only are Michigan and Michigan State rivals, they are in-state rivals with rabid fan bases. Thanks to the expanded conference slate the two schools meet twice a year because it is a “protected rivalry game.” Now both Tom Izzo and John Beilein want to take it to the max.
“Like football season ends with Michigan and Ohio State, I want to see our season end with Michigan State every year.” Michigan Wolverines head coach John Beilein said. Spartans head coach Tom Izzo is in full agreement.
Before this seasons bump to 18 games Michigan State and Michigan met just once during the regular season. For a rivalry that is the Big Ten’s version of North Carolina and Duke (who meet every season on the last regular season game) that is where the Spartans and Wolverines should go.
“The atmosphere that surrounds this game is electric,” Izzo said. “This should absolutely be the last game every season,” he continued.
Both Tom Izzo and John Beilein will plead their case to the head of the Big Ten basketball committee. God willing they will agree. The conferences two top basketball programs should be spotlighted.
There should be no issues with making this the season ender every season. Yet, it is difficult to know exactly what the powers that be will agree with, and what they will not agree with. Although this seems logical.
Michigan State and Michigan is golden for t.v. ratings , something that is important to the conferences. It is sure to be taken into consideration as the two coaches go before the committee. Also just how electric the crowds are will be looked at as well.
This should be a slam dunk. Pun intended.
Embed from Getty Images In one of the Big Ten basketball seasons this was one of the bigger upsets. The Purdue Boilermakers had a clear, clean path to the conference title. It all came unraveled last night in Minnesota.
The Mach 9 showdown between Michigan and Michigan State now both looms large and is now a game where the stakes are considerably higher. Higher as in Big Ten championship high. Two bitter rivals meeting for all the marbles.
The Spartans now have a chance to clinch at least a share of their second-straight regular season Big Ten title on Saturday night, if they beat Michigan. While the Wolverines could clinch at least a share of their first regular season conference title since 2014.
Thanks to the Golden Gophers being, well golden last night The Michigan vs Michigan Sate game has turned into a prime-time, must-see game that will be played on ESPN. The network scrambled to switch prime time games after Purdue went down in defeat.
The funny part in all of this is that both Michigan and Michigan State, team, coaches, fans and players were rooting for Minnesota. Both schools had a united common denominator. A Purdue loss.
Now the fans bases and schools will get back to the business of total and utter dislike for each other schools. Winner takes a share of the title. A Northwestern win Saturday against you got it Purdue gives the Wolverines, Spartans the title outright.
It should be a great game Saturday night.
Embed from Getty Images He is undoubtedly one of the nations best point guards. Michigan State’s Cassius Winston is in the running for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award. Named after Class of 1971 Hall of Famer and former Boston Celtic and Holy Cross guard Bob Cousy.
Winston joins a list of 16 of the countries best guards. His resume speaks for itself, Cassius is averaging 19.2 points, 7.6 assists and 3.0 rebounds while shooting 47.4% from the floor and 42.9% from 3-point land. He currently ranks third in the Big Ten in scoring and leads the league, and ranks No. 3 in the country, in assists. Not bad.
Also going for him is the fact Winston has scored at least 20 points 16 times this year. Cassius has also pulled off the rare feat of average at least 18.0 points and 7.0 assists per game. That is incredible.
One telling stat about Cassius Winston is this has been named the Big Ten Player of the Week five times this season. That is a Michigan State record. When you factor in that the school has seen the likes of Ervin “Magic” Johnson, Steve Smith and Mateen Cleaves among others it makes Winston’s feats stand out even more.
It goes without saying that Cassius Winston, will go down as one of the all-time greatest Spartans.
Embed from Getty Images Michigan State Spartans men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo said he is not worried about the Big Ten title. He is more concerned with how his team will play in their next game. Given the up and down Spartans season, it is a just concern.
Michigan State who looked so good and so complete last Sunday when they beat rival Michigan looked the complete opposite in the second in season loss to the Indiana Hoosiers.
Michigan State was in total control of winning the Big Ten outright only to be upset again by the Hoosiers. Michigan State now sits one full game behind the Purdue Boilermakers who steamrolled Ohio State.
Michigan State is currently tied with Michigan for second place. Michigan plays at Maryland, Sunday afternoon. Of the two schools Purdue has a much easier path to the Big Ten title, as they have both Minnesota and Northwestern left to play.
Michigan will rematch Michigan State March 9. “We are not going to worry about this team or that team. Who can help us who can’t help us” Izzo said.
That is the correct thought process the Spartans need. Focus on the next game. Focus on what you can control. Another Indiana performance could sink Michigan State’s season. They would be faced with an uphill battle in the Big Ten Tournament as well as a mid-lower seeding in the NCAA Tournament.
I can not say injuries have caught up to the Spartans. They rallied and won three games in a row after three starters went down. It is possible Michigan State has lost a fourth player when Kyle Ahrens went down with an ankle injury and his status is up in the air.
In sports no team cares about injuries. They see Michigan State on the front of the jersey and understand they are playing a team that usually is in the mix for best in the conference. So there is a bullseye on them.
Izzo will not let his players feel sorry for themselves. They will have to rally together one more time if they want the ending they have dreamed about.
Embed from Getty Images The Michigan State Spartans football team is looking to leave the 2018 season in the rear view mirror. After a disappointing 7-5 record the Spartans are looking to regroup as spring football practice inches closer.
The number one most pressing question for the Spartans is will the offense show improvement? Coming off a season in which the offense was hampered by a totally depleted offensive line due to injuries and inconsistent play as well as at wide receiver and eventually at quarterback it was too much for the Spartans to overcome.
Quarterback Brian Lewerke regressed. In 2017 Lewerke threw for 2,793 yards, 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions . Meanwhile, Lewerke passed for 2,040 yards, eight touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 2018. Michigan State needs better production at the quarterback position.
Michigan State ranked No. 114 in rush yards per game last season. Again the offensive line was beat up in all fairness. Brad Salem is moving to offensive coordinator and as of this moment it is unclear as to what his offensive philosophy will be.
Michigan State needs a fresh approach and to break free from what had become a somewhat predictable offense. That is what Salem is tasked with. It is a new system that can push the Spartans forward.
For the Spartans to shake the bad 2018 season the offensive line must both stay healthy and become a more consistent group. The lone returning starter from last seasons line is David Beedle.
Devontae Dobbs, is a five-star recruit from the 2019 class. Look for Dobbs to push for a starting job early in spring practice.
Michigan State really has little to no issues on defense or special teams. But the woeful inconsistent play from the offense needs to come to an end. Quarterback Brian Lewerke needs to regain his touch. If those things happen the Spartans will be in the thick of the Big Ten race.
Michigan State needs better balance. They can no longer rely solely on the defense to bail them out. The 2019 football schedule includes a brutal three game stretch for the Spartans. Ohio State, Wisconsin and Penn State all in a row.
It all starts to take shape when spring practice begins.
Embed from Getty Images Tom Izzo and his Spartan basketball team invaded Ann Arbor and promptly handed the Michigan Wolverines a home loss. Izzo was masterful in his play calling. Michigan State was clearly the better team Sunday.
With only three games left in the regular season, 10th ranked Michigan State laid claim to the Big Ten’s top spot. Handing 7th ranked Michigan a 77-70 loss. The win ended a three game losing streak to the Wolverines.
Michigan State was locked in from the opening tip. With two of the teams most productive as well as consistent players sidelined with injuries. The Spartans did not back down. Tom Izzo once again showed why is not only one of the Big Ten’s best coaches. But one of the best in the country.
The biggest take away for the Spartans is they got a game in which everyone chipped in. The Spartans had leaned heavily on Nick Ward (who’s left hand is currently in a brace) as well as Joshua Langford (who was on a scooter to protect his left foot from more damage.)
After the game Michigan State players used the words “Dialed in” to describe the afternoon’s upset of their in-state rival. The Spartans defense was so good. Forcing Michigan into three point tries.
Michigan threw up three after three after three yet hardly made any. Meanwhile the Spartans grabbed rebound after rebound and converted them into points.
The two teams will get another shot at each other. In less than two weeks Michigan State will play the part of the host in East Lansing. That March 9 game will be huge. Mix in the fact that Purdue is hanging around and it makes every game important.
Michigan will want revenge. Michigan State will want a top seeding in the Big Ten Tournament with their eyes on the NCAA Tournament. It should be another good game.
It was perhaps the biggest win of the season for the Spartans. Who after a three game losing streak is suddenly red hot. Perhaps Michigan State wanted to win for two injured teammates. They did. Did anyone expect less from a Tom Izzo lead team?
Embed from Getty Images Tomorrow is a clash between two Big Ten giants. The Michigan State Spartans head to Ann Arbor to face the Michigan Wolverines. In the seasons biggest basketball game to date.
Let’s start with two players all eyes will be on in this hotly anticipated matchup. Two players that are candidates for Big Ten as well as defensive players of the year. Michigan State’s Cassius Winston will be tasked with keeping Michigan State in the game with points. Michigan’s Zavier Simpson hopes to pace the Wolverines.
Simpson is Mr. do-it-all for the Wolverines. He is currently that favorite to win the Big Ten player of the year. Cassius Winston is not only Michigan State’s best in the Big Ten but is one of the most consistent as well. This is a must see matchup. Between these two scorers.
Zavier Simpson’s teammate, Jordan Poole gives Michigan a dynamic one-two punch. Poole leads the Wolverines with a 38.8% shooting from three point land. Poole leads the Wolverines by a large margin with 59 from beyond the arch.
As good as Cassius Winston is Michigan State boasts another great defensive player in Matt McQuaid. McQuaid is guilty of shutting down the best shooters in the conference. He held Purdue’s Carsen Edwards to 7-35. One aspect of the great defender’s game to watch is he can shoot the three as well. 44.1% from three point land.
Both schools have nearly identical front courts Michigan’s Ignas Brazdeikis and the Spartans Aaron Henry. Both schools count heavily on these two for good reason they are both game changers for the respective teams.
So with that in mind here we go:
BENCH, The edge goes to Michigan only because Michigan State has two big injuries and players that made up their bench have been pressed into action.
Front court, EVEN both schools have very good front courts. There is going to be a three point show put on by both schools tomorrow.
Coaches, EVEN there was a time Michigan State’s Tom Izzo was the best in the Big Ten. However, Since Wolverines coach John Beilein has gotten his program going. He has caught the great Izzo in both wins and talent.
Who wins? Michigan in a tight game. Sure Michigan State has injuries. History tells us never count out a Tom Izzo coached team. The game is in Ann Arbor that is enough to give the Wolverines a slight edge.