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Michigan State 44 - Montana State 3: Quick Thoughts

The beautiful view from Section 27

Michigan State comprehensively takes care of Montana State, 44-3.  As Rittenberg said, overall, this is probably the result that Dantonio was looking for, though some concerns remain.

  • If anyone had concerns about the quarterbacks, they should have been more or less answered today.  Both guys played very, very well; I'm completely comfortable with either of them taking the helm the rest of the way.  Cousins was jittery at first, but thereafter exhibited the quick release which many have touted, and was composed in the pocket and, for the most part, very accurate on his throws.  Nichol also was pretty much as advertised: he scrambled for a first down, got out of trouble a few other times (though he might need to contain himself a bit; his fumble seemed to be the result of trying to do too much), and his rollout and touchdown pass to Dion Sims was a sheer thing of beauty.  My guess is that Cousins gets the slight advantage, but an excellent showing by both.
  • The tight ends.  Aside from Dion Sims's one drop at the beginning of the second quarter (which, had he hung on, may have been a touchdown), these guys were phenomenal.  Gantt was solid, Linthicum was, for me, one of the stars of the game, and Dion Sims was impressive both in blocking and receiving.  These guys are going to be a major strength of the team.
  • The secondary.  Fantastic effort which would have looked even better had Chris Rucker not been on the receiving end of two questionable pass interference calls.  There's obviously only so much we can read into a game against a 1-AA opponent, but this was a pretty comprehensive shutdown.
  • Greg Jones.  What can I say?  He's our best defensive player since Julian Peterson, and he's even better than he was last year.  One question: does he really need to be on kickoff coverage?  It may be my residual agita from seeing Drew Stanton injured covering punts against Nebraska, but it just doesn't seem worth the risk.
  • The crowd.  The stadium was full, and much more active and vocal than I had expected for an opening game against a highly unsexy opponent.  The student section has been expanded substantially since last season, and it makes a difference.
And, the lowlights:
  • The offensive line.  Not exactly the performance I had hoped; they were generally good in pass coverage, but certainly didn't do the best job opening holes for our running backs.  Simply: there wasn't enough push, and whenever we tried to run outside, it seemed like the blocks weren't there.  And oh man, let's hope that Nitchman is all right.
  • Running backs.  Caulton Ray was the best of the bunch, but nobody was overwhelming.  Baker and Caper seemed far too inclined toward running east/west for my taste; it seemed like Caper especially was running 15 yards to get a 5 yard gain, and Baker wasn't effective running straight ahead.  Nothing conclusive yet, but my initial impression is not enormously positive.
  • Kickoff coverage.  Twice we allowed them past the forty.  (One can be chalked up somewhat to a poor kick, but still . . . )  This needs to improve.
Overall, a tremendous day in East Lansing -- beautiful weather, great crowd, and we handily beat a team we should beat handily.  What'd you think?