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Spring Game: A Review



I was all set, and then the dark clouds rolled in from the west.  The players entered the tunnel, a few raindrops fell, and the announcement came over the PA that a Severe Thunderstorm Warning was in effect.  Sure enough, as soon as that announcement ended, it began to pour.  White scrambling for shelter (note: if lightning is in play, the best course of action is not to stay in an area with hundreds of aluminum bleachers), my phone somehow got wet, disabling it and any updates I would've been able to send.

WIth my tail between my legs, and gambling that the game was going to be cancelled, I headed home.  In retrospect, that was a bad decision on my part, because the game turned out to be awesome.  My thoughts on the game following the link.

MSU Still Hasn't found a Running Back, or the Spring Game Format Is Not Conducive to the Running Game

Javon Ringer. He didn't play, and it was quite obvious. Neither side could get anything going on the ground. Andre Anderson (17 rushes for 28 yards, one touchdown) was the best of the contenders to complement Ringer, although A.J. Jimmerson (4 for 7) and Ashton Leggett (4 for 4) didn't get many chances. Is MSU sure it can't give it to  Ringer 40 times a game next year?

Sound familiar?  It should, that was Joe Rexrode's Spring Game recap from last year.  This year, the running backs didn't look much better.  Andre Anderson had 9 rushes for 30 yards and a TD, Caulton Ray had 9 rushes for 9 yards, and Ashton Leggett had 10 rushes for 7 yards and a TD.  Jimmerson had 1 rush on the day for 6 yards.   Now these numbers aren't promising; in fact, except for Anderson's production it's a tad apocalyptic.  These numbers sway me to believe that some of the fault has to be given to mismatched offensive lines on both sides.  Think about it - most of spring practice is spent with either the ones or twos, and then the OL is shuffled, and sent off to execute the run.  I'm not saying we should disregard the bad running numbers, or give them full merit.  Rather, the truth, as with a lot of things in life, is somewhere in between the two extremes.  The running game will eventually be workable, but I think Javon will be missed.

Reason #327 The NCAA Continues to Kill Fun

When I heard that Travis Walton was suited up and on the field, I was pumped.  Then, I was quickly deflated when the Green Team called a timeout to get him off the field.  Why the tease?  Apparently, the NCAA has a rule where players have to designated as football players in order to play.  BOOOOOOOOOOOOO.  I understand issues of liability, lawyers, etc., but c'mon!  While we're at it, here are  a few more scoring twists I think could improve the spring game:

  • Each team gets a horse and a chariot.  Try tackling Nichol when he's tearing around the field being pulled by a Palomino.
  • Anybody in the stands wearing a jersey can be drafted at any time.  Tired of the 5'8" guy at three bills cussing out the OL?  Line him up against Trevor Anderson.  Possible setback - paying excavators to extricate the fans pounded six feet down into Spartan Stadium.
  • 10 feet above each endzone, there will be a special endzone accessible by climbing rope where touchdowns are worth 15 instead of 6 points.  If the players are smart, they'll hire either Bill Bellamy or Dan Cortese to be a coach on the sidelines.

There Will Be a Quarterback Controversy, and We Will Create It

Keith Nichol and Kirk Cousins both threw for 357 yards and 4 touchdowns yesterday, disappointing anyone who was looking for a cut and dry starter.  The way they racked up their yardage though played to their rapidly forming stereotypes:  Cousins, steady and accurate, was 29-43; Nichol, the big-play threat and gunslinger, was 20- 28, with a spectacular 73 yard play to Keshawn Martin on the run.  The problem with these stereotypes is that they attempt to create drastic differences when the differences may not be all that great.  Cousins has a good amount of speed as well (4.8 40 in high school), and after a couple of wild passes in the beginning, Nichol settled in as well; in fact, Nichol's completion percentage in the game (71% to Cousins' 67%) was better.  However, those numbers fail to take drops into consideration.

What I've spent the past 140 words trying to say is this:  At this point, we have two quarterbacks who are very, very, siminlar.  However, of one thing I am sure - once the first couple of incomplete passes or interception gets thrown against Montana State, a portion of the fanbase will inevitably begin to call for the other to start, but will it really make a difference?  We know that Nichol and Cousins look like they're on the same level, so currently, if we complain about one quarterback, it'd be a reach to believe the other would be significantly better.  The only thing that we as a fanbase can do now it sit on our hands and wait.

Our Linebackers Are Still the Strength of the Defense

No surprises there.  The leading tacklers for each team were Greg Jones for the Green, and Eric Gordon for the White.  Jones also was the leader in tackles for losses between both teams.  The notable thing worth mentioning about the defense (besides stopping the run and allowing copious passing yards, but you knew that already) was that Trenton Robinson currently looks like the favorite to replace Otis Wiley.

Why All of This Speculation Could Very Well be Wrong, and I Will be Proven to be an Idiot

Because it's the Spring Game.  We will very well never see our offense and defense have this same permutation of players again.  Since football is a game that is heavily dependent on teamwork, anything we saw yesterday could very well turn out to be nothing but a fish market selling only red herrings.

But you know what?  It was still fun.  It's fun to look at the tea leaves and guess who'll be the next big thing, it's fun to go to East Lansing on a warm Saturday and grill, it's fun to run for your life when the sky goes black and damp, and it's fun to reacquaint yourself with a stadium, players and coaches (with the exception of Travis - c'mon NCAA, he couldn't have caught at least one bubble screen?) you haven't seen in five months.

So yeah, I very well could be wrong.  If I am though, I've enjoyed every minute of it.