This week, MSU hosts South Florida. Collin Sherwin from SB Nation's USF blog, Voodoo Five, was kind enough to answer some questions about the Bulls and what the hell happened last week.
1. When you lose 53-21 to an FCS team (McNeese state), there's no one thing that went wrong. Was it as bad as it looked? What happened?
Oh it was far, far worse than it looked. Picture playing one-on-one vs. a 7-year-old, and having them just shoot MJ-like fadeaways in your grill for about three hours. The worst part is we didn't see it coming since our second play from scrimmage was an 80 yard run for Marcus Shaw, so we thought it was the usual "beat down an FCS to open the season."
And then the offense couldn't move it an inch when they weren't turning it over, and our vaunted front seven (The Green Plague is what Notre Dame transfer Aaron Lynch named them... he can take that back now) was getting PUSHED BACK by an FCS team over 99% of our fans couldn't find on a map. At the end, it turned into a quit fest, highlighted by a 78-yard McNeese passing TD that made it looked like the game was fixed. Guys practically running away from tackles and taking angles so poorly this should have been playing over the P.A.
2. Offensively, your starting QB had terrible numbers in his career, and that continued against McNeese Statebefore being pulled. And the offense did little after a big play to start the game. Who are some key players to watch, and what are the strengths and weakness of the offense?
Andre Davis is a legit NFL wide receiver. Put up almost 200 yards vs. Nevada last year and had some superb highlight catches all year long, so of course Skip Holtz buried him on the bench because Skip Holtz is a malignant tumor on football. Davis is a true impact guy, and with our inability to throw the ball I'd double and shade coverage to him all day and make someone else beat you. Remember Calvin Johnson having Reggie Ball as his QB at Georgia Tech? That's about what Davis is going through at USF.
Marcus Shaw is undersized, but can be a playmaker out of the backfield. He can run it or catch it, and has some speed and elusiveness. He also gets excused from what should have been a team wide hari kari that should have taken place immediately after the final gun last week.
Another strength of the offense is that most of them won't be playing for the offense next year.
3. Defensively, MSU fans still have nightmares about Aaron Lynch, and now he returns. But most reports are that he did little, and the rest of the defensive numbers speak for themselves. MSU's offense has been atrocious for 14 games now. Should we be hopeful we might actually score some points? Can your defensive problems be solved quickly?
You've seen as many USF games under Willie Taggart as we have, so the game-to-game adjustments we just don't know about right now. There's a chicken-and-egg debate happening here as to whether Willie underprepared the team and didn't adjust, or whether Malignant Tumor just left him with so little talent that Vince Lombardi would have gotten whupped last week. I tend towards the latter as there were 24 seniors on last year's team, most of them starters. That team went 3-9 and gave us all snorted-Ambien levels of nightmares all season long. So how bad were their backups??
I'd say the defense plays better this week, if only because worse would involve sending Stephen Hawking out as the nickel back. Our defense last year was absolutely fucking atrocious under Chris Cosh (his hire ended up being the nail in Tumor's coffin), and our new DC Chuck Bresnahan hasn't coached college in 20 years. You can see why we're totally panicking around here, and the reasons we'll be serving paint thinner at our East Lansing tailgate.
And if Aaron Lynch is good, he sure didn't show it last week. I can't imagine that kind of talent just dries up though, so I assume they find a way to get him to make an impact before the season is half over. But I'm an Eagles fan that went through the Nmandi Asomugha Era so yeah there's that too.
4. What are three keys to victory for the Bulls?
1. Michigan State's team busses are hit by meteors on the way to Spartan Stadium.
2. Last week was indeed Black Sox/CCNY levels of rigged, but we're not throwing every game if only to keep the odds reasonable for the rest of our crooked season.
3. I mean... divine intervention? Willie intentionally crapped the bed last week as a psychological ploy to win this one?
No one that saw USF play last week and doesn't abuse hallucinogenics should believe our problems could ever be solved in one week. But this is sports and weird shit happens I guess. When "weird shit happens I guess" is your best argument for winning, I'd say victory might be tough to foresee.
5. Give me a score prediction and why.
Michigan State 34, USF 10. Your defense is obviously stout, so I don't see us getting much outside of garbage time in terms of points. But I think even your inept offense will find ways to score on our clown car D. Just get to the second level and distract our DB's with shiny objects or perhaps Beanie Babies.
Thanks again to Collin for answering some questions. Check out Voodoo Five for all things USF.