Wow, that felt good.
For the first time in eight weeks the Spartans won a football game and did so in convincing fashion. No longer are they mired in a seven game losing streak and no longer do they have to endure a miserable post-loss week of practice.
Before you say “it was Rutgers” take a moment to enjoy life and not get caught up in the details because at this point, who cares? A win is a win. Enjoy it.
Controlling The Lines
The running game looked as good as it has since Notre Dame. LJ Scott went over 100 yards for the third time in his last four games, Madre London scored his first two touchdowns of the year and Gerald Holmes chipped in 50 yards before leaving the game with an injury. Mostly though, the running success was thanks to the offensive line.
The opponent certainly has something to do with it, but the strong line play was still a welcome change. Having a healthy Kodi Keiler made a noticeable difference but the most exciting part was how well the left side combination of tackle Cole Chewins and guard Tyler Higby played. Both are redshirt freshmen and probably starters in 2017. The experienced gain down the stretch this year will surely give them a leg up.
On the other side of the ball, while they didn’t get to the quarterback, the youngsters held Rutgers offense in check all day. The Scarlet Knights couldn’t pass (40 yards) or pass (109 yards) mostly because the linemen where where they needed to be. Considering that Malik McDowell didn’t play, that’s exciting.
Freshmen Decided The Game
Mark Dantonio has played more freshmen in 2016 than any other year and that in game experience showed up today. Offensively, in addition to Chewins and Higby, Trishton Jackson scored his first touchdown. On defense, Justin Layne played tight coverage all day and all of the lineman — Josh King, Mike Panasiuk, and Raequan Williams — more than held their own. Joe Bachie and Tyriq Thompson both made a few nice plays late and, as he has all season, Donnie Corley made plays on both side of the ball with the highlight being his #TruckStick of a Rutgers tight end.
These are the foundational parts of the 2017 roster. Seeing them all make an impact has to make the fans and coaches alike feel pretty good.
Disciplined Football, Finally
The Spartans have been one of the most penalized teams in the Big Ten this season but a fairly clean game. It wasn’t perfect — MSU had five penalties, including a flag for having two players with the same number in the game at the same time — but the back-breaking drive killers were pretty much non-existent. This is a team that cannot afford mistakes if it wants any chance of beating Ohio St or Penn St in the next two weeks, so this was a nice step in the right direction.