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MSU 26, Western Michigan 13: Kneejerk Reactions

Immediate takeaways from the season opener.


1) The defense looks championship caliber, again.

Four takeaways - an interception and lateral by Jairus Jones to Kurtis Drummond for the opening score, an acrobatic one-handed pick by Drummond, another pick by Jones to set up a FG, and a sack-strip by Marcus Rush returned for six by Shilique Calhoun. Five sacks and at least 10 passes broken up. 204 yards allowed, under 3 per play. WMU's quarterbacks (starter Tyler Van Tubbergen left in the second quarter with an injury; Zach Terrell finished) combined for a 37.5% completion rate. I don't care who you're playing, that's pretty impressive.

2) They're going to have to be, because ...

... the offense also seems to be picking up where it left off in 2012. 297 total yards, even stipulating that conditions were messy for a decent chunk of the first half, is not going to cut it. 3.8 per play is not good. A combined completion percentage of 46% and 6.8 yards per _completion_ (not per attempt) is ugly, to say the least.

3) Indecision 2013, MSU QB Edition, is still ongoing.

Neither Andrew Maxwell nor Connor Cook really distinguished themselves in this one. Maxwell drew plenty of ire early with multiple third down throws to covered receivers well short of the sticks (although this did seem to improve late), finishing 11/21 for 74 yards, missing on his last 5 attempts. He was definitely not helped by a number of drops, though, particularly from Bennie Fowler. Cook's passing line, believe it or not, was even worse: 6/16 for 42 yards, and at least one of his passes should have been intercepted in the end zone. (To be fair, his next one should have been caught in the end zone.) However, Cook's running ability opened up a lot of options that didn't seem to be there with Maxwell; he had four rushes for 35 yards and the rest of the running game seemed to benefit from the fact that the defense had to account for him.

4) Jeremy Langford looks to have nailed down the featured RB spot.

Langford had 20 carries for 94 yards and a touchdown. Nick Hill (7 for 33) and Riley Bullough (5 for 12) also saw carries, but Langford got the most and was most productive with them.

5) Special teams was a mild plus.

Andre Sims Jr. had a couple of long punt returns, although early on he seemed to be lining up too shallow on the return, letting a few go over his head (his first long return of 21 yards came after a 60+-yard punt thanks to a long roll). Kevin Muma was 2 for 2 on FGs, both from close range. Mike Sadler had an unfortunately busy night, but he put 6 of his 11 punts inside the 20. Only negative was a bad snap on a PAT.

It wasn't pretty, and there are still plenty of question marks on offense. But it's a win, and there are a couple of weeks to hopefully iron out a few of the kinks before Notre Dame. The offense isn't going to have to be great for a big season, but it's going to have to be better than it was tonight.