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Michigan State 38, Western Michigan 14: Afterglow Thread

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On a beautiful (if windy) day in East Lansing, Your Spartans started the 2010 season on the right foot by defeating the Western Michigan Broncos, 38-14.  After MSU took an early 7-0 lead, WMU clearly was the better team during the rest of the first quarter and the opening 3 minutes of the second quarter.  But, when ESPN started showing highlights (lowlights?) of last year's CMU debacle, MSU, as if on cue, started on a 3-play 99-yard drive, including a 75-yard run by Le'Veon Bell and Edwin Baker's 7-yard touchdown scamper.  State added another touchdown before halftime and never looked back.

Quick bullets:

  • Based on the limited evidence of one game, it seems as if any consternation regarding the running game is unwarranted.  The offensive line consistently gave Baker and Bell plenty of room to run, and both backs seized the chance.  MSU ended up rushing for 297 yards -- their highest total since the 2007 Indiana game.
  • Le'Veon Bell will get all the headlines tomorrow, and deservedly so: he showed tremendous vision on his first touchdown run, and remarkable quickness and ability to turn the corner on the aforementioned 75-yard run.  He's the first MSU running back to gain 100 yards in his first game, a feat he accomplished by halftime.  The hype that's slowly been building up around Bell throughout the spring and summer camps appears to have been warranted.
  • Kirk Cousins started very slowly but got much better as the game progressed.  (His early struggles weren't helped by several B.J. Cunningham and Keshawn Martin drops.)  His more successful play was really spurred on by a tremendous touchdown catch by Keith Nichol -- after that point, Cousins looked quite good, if a bit rusty.
  • The secondary looked OK.  The two touchdown passes were semi-breakdowns, but the first play in particular was very difficult to defend.  Marcus Hyde's interception was the result of a very nice read, and it came in a big spot.  Johnny Adams also looked very good in his first competitive game in 20 months.  Chris L. Rucker looked, well, Ruckerish, although he did make a nice 4th quarter pass breakup.
  • Dan Conroy looked great on all of the extra points and on his one field goal (a 33-yarder).  Kickoffs may still be a problem, but the truly terrible first-quarter efforts seem to have been caused by the wind.

In sum, it was a fine effort and a good start to the season, and it came against a WMU team which I think will be quite good by the end of the year.  Thanks to everyone who participated in the game thread; we'll have a more thorough recap tomorrow.  For now, State's 1-0, and we have quite a bit to be encouraged about.