3 Up, 3 Down: Michigan State football’s anemic offense fails miserably against Wolverines


Michigan State’s defense kept them in the game for as long as they could on Saturday night in Ann Arbor, but the Spartans’ anemic offense did nothing against the Wolverines’ defense in a 29-7 loss.

We take a look at three positive points and three negatives from tonight’s game, as Michigan State falls to 3-5 overall and 1-4 in Big Ten play this season:

At three

1.) Keon Coleman is so good

In prime time, in a nationally televised game, the sophomore wide receiver showed the nation why he’s one of the best young players in America.

Coleman was Michigan State’s only real lag on the court tonight, and he carried the Spartans’ offense accordingly. The second finished with 155 yards and a touchdown on five receptions.

Unfortunately, the Wolverines were able to leave a safety above Coleman for most of the last two and a half quarters because the Spartans had no other offensive options to turn to.

2.) Michigan State Red Zone/Goal Line Defense

The Spartans defense kept Michigan State in this game. The one thing MSU has been damn good at the past two seasons is goal line and red zone defense, and it showed again tonight.

Michigan State forced the Wolverines to score four baskets in the end zone in the first three quarters to stay within striking distance. Unfortunately, the MSU offense did nothing with this opportunity.

3.) Kendall Brooks, Xavier Henderson Played Cue

Michigan State safeties had to cover gaps in the Spartans linebacker corps tonight, and they did an admirable job. Senior Xavier Henderson forced a fumble on UM’s first possession and finished with six tackles, including one for loss.

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Kendall Brooks, meanwhile, had an even better game with 11 tackles (eight to a loss). It was the first time we’ve seen this safety duo in the field together for Michigan State, and it was an improvement over other personnel options we’ve seen there this season.

three down

1.) The MSU attack is a one-man show

Offensive coordinator Jay Johnson got creative on a few play calls tonight, but it was mostly a bland offensive game plan for the Spartans. I really thought we would see more gadget games this week, but we really didn’t.

Outside of Coleman, Michigan State had nothing offensively, and the Wolverines adapted to that and didn’t allow the sophomores many opportunities starting midway through the second quarter.

The Spartans offensive line, which struggled to produce a push in the running game, was once again brought to a complete halt. Michigan State averaged just 1.6 yards per carry, and the number improves to just 2.2 yards per carry after adjusting for the two sacks Payton Thorne took. Because of this, the Wolverines were able to overtake Coleman on the field, which took away the Spartans’ best offensive player.

2.) Calling the fourth down in the red zone

Michigan State trailed 10-7 midway through the second quarter and had an opportunity inside the Wolverines 10-yard line with a chance to tie or take the lead.

With the Spartans’ field goal situation, in addition to the need to score touchdowns to pull off this upset, Tucker opted to go for a fourth-and-one there.

I have no problem with that decision, but Johnson’s play call to go with a delayed transfer was excruciating. Predictably, Michigan stuffed the run and MSU’s last real scoring chance of the game went out the window. Just a really uninspired effort from Johnson tonight.

3.) The defense wears out in the 2nd half

I don’t even really blame the Spartan defense for that. These guys put up a fight in this game, but they wore themselves out as the second half progressed because MSU’s offense couldn’t stay on the field.

Michigan finished with a 40:33 – 19:27 advantage in possession time tonight. The Wolverines finished with 443 yards of offense, including 276 rushing. The scoreboard and box score suggest Michigan State’s defense had a bad game, but I disagree. This one falls squarely on offense.


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