Author's note: I'm not particularly keen on keeping calm and carrying on in this post. Hopefully you'll understand. Also, I answered a few comments on the Youngstown State post and added the 2009 Northern Colorado box score if you want to check that out.
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I'm EqPleased ladies and gentlemen. No, scratch that, I'm extremely EqPleased. I would say-
...last week's caution -- don't overreact! -- works this week as well. Florida Atlantic's offense was, in a word, brutal.
Yeah, I know Mr. Rexrode, it's just-
"Very impressive and encouraging performance, but nothing to get too excited about. That's a bad FAU team."
Well, okay Mr. Kilbridge, but at least the polls should show that-
AP: 15 (17)
Coaches: 15 (17)
O hai, wonder what Drew Sharp wrote abou-
"I’m not a second-chance guy when it comes to athletes. If the decision were mine, Sims would have been gone with no opportunity for salvation. These players should appreciate the opportunities earned and if they blow it once, that’s too bad. But Sims’ touchdown explains why he got that second chance.
Sims was one of the Spartans’ top recruits two years ago, out of Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.
If he was a walk-on or a mediocre recruit, Sims likely wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity to prove if he learned from his mistakes."
EPIC FREEP TROLLFACE
Look, I get it. FAU is not a good football team. I agree. But I'm overreacting anyways, because that defense was amazing.
That was (and I'm going to try and choose my words carefully here) easily the most thorough, dominating performance of the Mark Dantonio tenure. It obviously wasn't our best win, because, come on, it's just FAU. But as far as just going out, executing, and crushing a team underneath your boot heel, it was the finest performance of Coach D's career here, and probably the most dominant performance in a decade or more for MSU (Seriously.)
-It was our first shutout since beating (who else?) FAU during a monsoon 17-0 in 2008.
-It was our biggest margin of victory since beating Illinois by 47 back in (wait for it) 2005.
-It was the fewest yards an MSU defense had given up since Biggie Munn roamed the sidelines (the mid '40s for those of you not up on your history.)
-27-1 MSU on first downs gained.
-In their first eight drives, before they completely shut the team down in the fourth quarter, the MSU offense went: TD, TD, FG, FG, TD, Missed FG, TD, FG on drives of 51, 73, 35, 46, 43, 51, 56, and 69 yards.Are you kidding me?
.-In the first 3 quarters the MSU defense gave up: Punt (3 and out), Punt (3 and out), Punt (3 and out), Punt (3 and out), Punt (5 plays, 2 yards), Punt (3 and out), Punt (3 and out), Fumble returned for TD, Punt (3 and out), and Punt (3 and out).
We're probably not fully prepared for this box score. This is only the second game I've done this, so there aren't really any other blowout games for us to compare this too, which means it might take a year or two to fully appreciate this defensive performance. But here it is anyways:
|MSU 44, FAU 0|
|Close %||52.63%||STANDARD DOWNS|
|Enemy Territory %||71.25%||9.38%||Success Rate||49.18%||16.67%|
|Close Success Rate||52.50%||11.76%||Success Rate||31.58%||0.00%|
|Close Success Rate||44.44%||11.11%||Points off turnovers||7||-7|
|Close S&P||0.906||0.176||BY QUARTER|
|Line Yards per carry||Q1 S&P||1.143||0.101|
|Close Success Rate||59.09%||12.50%||1st Down S&P||0.802||0.117|
|Close PPP||0.524||0.076||2nd Down S&P||0.813||0.092|
|Close S&P||1.115||0.201||3rd Down S&P||0.891||0.024|
|Big Plays||6||0||Yards Per Point||9.86||LOL, can't divide by zero yo|
|Yards Per Play||5.23||1.45||Penalties||3 for 20 yards||5 for 55 yards|
1. Enemy territory.
Seriously, look at how thoroughly we dominated field position. FAU crossed the 50 yard line for 3 out of 32 plays (3 plays! Past the 50!). MSU on the other hand, camped out in FAU's side of the field running 57 out of 80 plays in Owl's territory.
I said last week that if you don't let team's past your 30 yard line, they probably aren't going to score very often. Well, if you don't let them onto your side of the field, your kick off team might as well get out their lawn chairs, because really guys, your services are not needed today.
The other side of the coin is that if your offense is basically making sandwiches underneath the shadow of the other team's goalposts, that's gonna work out pretty good for you too.
2. Negative S&Ps
Negative. S. And. Ps. LOOK AT THEM. LOOK AT THEM! DON'T LOOK AWAY. I KNOW, IT'S A LITTLE LIKE STARING AT THE SUN, BUT IT DESERVES YOUR UNDIVIDED ATTENTION.
I've looked through a sizable number of Mr. Connelly's S&P box scores and I'm not finding negative S&Ps. I'm even conceding that maybe I'm doing something wrong in handing out negative EqPts for a fumble returned for a touchdown, but over the course of an entire game FAU went 0/20 on passing downs. They finished two quarters with negative PPP values which, I assure you, is extremely hard to do (mostly against our backups nonetheless).
FAU had only two 'successful plays' according to SR (out of 32 total) the entire game.
3. Yards Per Play
Doubling a team in YPP is good. Tripling a team in YPP is really good. MSU got 3.6 times more yards per play on average than FAU. Elite. And our offense wasn't even anything better than 'good' this game! I think Roushar didn't dial up a Cousins to Cunningham deep ball specifically to keep my computer from exploding.
FAU's longest play went for 14 yards. Their second longest play went for 8.
4. Progression of downs
FAU got worse every down they got further away from first down. MSU got better. This might not really mean anything, but I think it's kind of cool anyways.
5. Calling off the dogs
Give Coach D some credit for class. The claim that a team could have 'named their score' gets thrown around a lot, but was probably more true on Saturday than it has ever been for an MSU team. I have no doubt MSU could have put up 50, 60, 70 if they'd wanted to. I also have no doubt there are more than a few coaches in America who who have done just that (I'm not saying it's Brett Bielema. It's Brett Bielema).
But they didn't. They dominated, but didn't disrespect, a over matched coach with an over matched team. The team's run-pass distribution and clear throw-in-the-towel 4th quarter performance support that. I for one, appreciate that in this situation.
Counterpoint: Who cares, this was a cupcake and isn't going to have any effect on the rest of the season.
This is unconvincing to me for a couple of reasons.
Look, MSU (and everyone other BCS team) plays one, two, three of these games against cupcake teams a year. I've seen a lot of games that MSU (or other BCS teams) win by scores of like, 35-7, 48-14, 42-10, 45-3, 51-17, etc. These scores happen all the time and usually involve a team giving up somewhere between 100 and 300 yards.
I've seen us play that game a bunch of times, heck, I watched us play it last weekend against Youngstown State. We've played lot's of bad teams over the years. I not sure I've ever seen an MSU team come out like that. It was incredible. It was impressive. It almost certainly represents something, even if it's just something small.
Yes, FAU is bad. They are almost certainly one of the twenty worst teams in football this year. They might not win a game this year..But you know what? I think we can all agree that Florida's defense is pretty damn good. And they had a great, but not exceptional, performance: 137 total yards, 3 points. Florida, against this same team, played what you expect to see against a cupcake. MSU, at least on this day, looked to be a step above that.
So what does that win mean?
Here's my best guess:
We've seen this defense's ceiling and it is high above our heads. They are young, and potentially really, really, good. I doubt they reach the heights of this game again this year, but after another year of seasoning, when we might return like, 80% of our two deep? I've been waiting for four years for Mark Dantonio to install the type of swaggering, ass-kicking defense that lead OSU to a national championship. Despite this game, I'm pretty sure it's not coming this year, because a defense like that doesn't spring up overnight. But I saw a glimpse on Saturday. A fleeting, tantalizing glimpse of speed, athleticism, and sure tackling (and no penalties!). That's exciting.
We saw the defense play tough against Iowa in '09. We saw it play tough against Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan last year. Now, there's another real sign a leap forward might be possible, next year, if not this year.
What was the worst thing you could say about this game? The missed field goal? The three offensive line penalties? The sort of low YPC? Or (my pick) the three fumbles (that we luckily all recovered). Guys, my biggest gripe is, "Gosh, it sure did suck that we recovered those fumbles, huh?" It wasn't a perfect game, but uh, it was pretty effin' close.
I'm sure some opposing fans will be like, "Hurr hurr hurr, look at Sparty beat his chest over FAU lol." But screw them. I watched something special, regardless of the quality of opposition. It wasn't a fluky performance filled with FAU arm punting turnovers and fumbling the football. It was three and out on loop and it was glorious. Maybe it doesn't say a lot about our football program the past 20 years or so that I think this is a big deal. Maybe some team's fans get to see games like that all the time. So be it. But that type of performance doesn't happen at Michigan State, or should I say, didn't happen at Michigan State.
There are still going to be ups and downs this year. This doesn't mean we win a Big Ten title or get to the Rose Bowl. Not even close, it's a long season. It probably doesn't mean a damn thing in relation to this weekend's game at ND. Giving up 400 yards to a good Notre Dame offense next week is eminently possible, maybe likely.
But the offense looks good and we just saw a performance against a real, live, D1 opponent that suggests something stifling might be growing in East Lansing. Even if the defense doesn't get back to that level this year, that level exists. I just saw it for the first time since WW II.
Maybe I'm wrong and that game was just a random, meaningless, blip in a long line of average Narduzzi defenses. But maybe it wasn't. People better hope FAU is the worst football team we've played in the past decade. Cause if they're not...
|Zeke the Wonder Dog|
|Frisbee Success Rate||13/14|
|S&P||WHOSA GOOD BOY?
WHOSA GOOD BOY?
ZEKE'S A GOOD BOY.
YES HE IS.