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Kneejerk Reactions: Michigan State 45, Jacksonville State 7

Quick thoughts after an excellent start to the season.

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

The Good

Connor Cook. Hard to do better than 12 for 13, 285 yards, 3 TDs in the first half. The first touchdown was a strike to Tony Lippett as he got hit; the second was again to Lippett who was wide open after a blitz. The third was a beautiful fade to A.J. Troup.

The defense is a screaming death machine again. Jacksonville State ended the third quarter with negative rushing yards, thanks to a fourth-and-goal play in which Max Shortell ran around forever and eventually took a 24-yard sack from Shilique Calhoun. The final tally was 22 rushing yards, 244 total. Kurtis Drummond, Darian Hicks, and Nick Tompkins each picked off a pass.

No major mistakes. No turnovers and just two penalties (a false start and an offensive holding penalty).

The ... "Bad" Would Be a Strong Word, So Let's Go With "Less Good"

Special teams looked shaky. Michael Geiger missed a 41-yard field goal in the first half. Mike Sadler's Heisman campaign got off to a rocky start with just a 33 yard average on four punts, although two were inside the 20. A potential big punt return for JSU got blown dead for an "illegal fair catch signal" which appeared to be nonexistent on replay. Kickoff coverage was generally strong, however.

The secondary isn't quite all there yet. This feels like nitpicking, considering the whole "7 points allowed and three interceptions" thing (it's completely unfair to hold them to the standard set last year, which was statistically absurd), but there were a few plays early on where I couldn't help but think Oregon would have gotten a huge gain out of it, if not a touchdown, where Jacksonville State simply missed. This may have just been first-game jitters, as things cleaned up pretty well in the second quarter, but we won't get away with lapses like that next week.

The running game was uninspiring. Not awful, but not great. 204 yards sounds good, but it's on 4.3 per carry against an FCS defense. On the bright side, five guys had a carry of at least 15 yards (Nick Hill, R.J. Shelton, Aaron Burbridge, Macgarrett Kings Jr., and Damion Terry, plus a 14-yarder for Jeremy Langford), but that means an awful lot of very short gains on the rest of the rushes. The offensive line didn't seem to be getting much push.

The Ugly

Injuries. Cook looked shaken up by the late hit on his first TD pass, but he didn't miss a snap. Langford went out after getting rolled up on his left ankle. Travis Jackson left with apparent back spasms. The worst, however, appears to be Kings. I don't want to speculate, but he eventually left the sideline on crutches, which is rarely a good sign.