Every weekend, The Only Colors co-managers Dom Garrett and Austin Smith talk about the events and what they learned from the week in Michigan State Sports. This is the back and forth email chain, right from their inbox.
Austin: Hello fellow manager, that was quite an eventful weekend, wasn't it?
Lots to talk about but lets go chronological and start with hoops. The Spartans regular season began Friday night against Arizona. They lost by two in heart breaking fashion but there were some real positives to take away. The most obvious being that Miles Bridges appears to be the real deal.
What did you think of the opener?
Dom: Hello there, co-manager. What a weekend indeed. I honestly did not have the best of weeks and I was looking forward to the distraction of a weekend full of sports and it did not disappoint. Friday was a great time though it was not the ending I was hoping for. The eternal optimist in me sees all the positives I can and that positive is named Miles Bridges. That kid (read:man) can play the game of basketball. I had friends texting me with the hottest of takes during the game, most of which said "Miles Bridges is good at basketball".
I am thinking that he has a legit shot at being the best player in the conference this year. Now if we could just get those turnovers and fouls under control...
What are your thoughts?
A: The result certainly wasn't ideal, but what I saw was a young team with a boatload of potential.
To me, the most impressive part was how they hung in there on the boards despite a major size disadvantage in the front-court. That's going to be the case more often than not until Gavin Schilling and/or Ben Carter return from injury and -- aside from soul-crushing dunks -- is where Bridges can make the biggest impact. His out of this world athleticism allows him to play far above his 6'7" frame and when your starting center is 6'6", that's crucial.
Offensively, he needs to work on being a bit more efficient (9-19 including 1-6 from the 3-pt line) but that will come with time. Aside from Miles, I'd also like to see Eron Harris be more aggressive. He only played 20 minutes and took just eight shots, which for the presumed scoring leader and team leader, is not enough. Arizona's defensive length may have bothered him but still, he needs to be a go-to guy.
So, other than Bridges did anyone stand out to you?
D: Over the course of the last 4 years, I have yelled out "DAMMIT, COSTELLO!" more times than I can count. I have no doubt that I am going to be replacing "Costello" with "Eron" this year. He is they type of guy that you would think Izzo would lean on for his wisdom being he is older than the other dudes but he is right with them making mistakes. There is a reason that Izzo took him out for stretches, he needs to be more disciplined.
No one stood out like Bridges, but I liked the line-up for freshman we did have. Ward, Winston, Bridges and Langford have the potential to be a GREAT starting line-up and I just want to see them calm down. Going to be hard to calm down when they are playing UK in the Garden this week though. I am worried about that size, but I think it is a game we can steal, especially if we start like we did on Friday.
Even if the young lineup is not a go to, I have a sneaking suspicion that Langford is going to end up with Tum Tum's job. Just a gut feeling with how this season will shake out. Think that UK is going to be a close one Tuesday?
A: I agree about Tum Tum needing to hit the bench. He was nearly the hero against Arizona but he got quite the fortuitous roll on that last second shot, which was a questionable decision to start with. He's clearly not confident in his offensive game and maybe that's because it hasn't improved. He could be a dynamite defensive player in spurts, but is still too much of a liability to be counted on as the starter.
Langford is a good enough ball handler but I don't see him taking over the point, that will fall to Winston once he gets a hold of Izzo's set-based offense. I would wager he is the starter by Big Ten season, if not sooner.
As far as Tuesday, no, I don't think it will be much of a game. UK has even more size and athleticism than Arizona and is healthier too. They should dominate MSU's front-court on the glass which usually leads to winning games. The only way it will be close is if MSU shoots the way they did to start Friday's game. McQuaid, Langford, Harris and Bridges all have to be on from outside to neutralize that advantage, otherwise we might be in for a long one.
Enough about losses, MSU actually won a football game this weekend! It was Rutgers but still! Do you think this was more of a reflection of just how bad New York's Big Ten team is or some actual improvement from the Green and White?
D: What a freaking game. This is the team I have been waiting to see this year and it felt a little bittersweet to have it come this late in the schedule. To answer your question, I think it was a healthy dose of both. The line was protecting, the backs were finding holes. The defense was tackling well in open field but more than anything, mistakes were kept to a minimum. Season low in penalties and opponent third down percentages tend to lead to a good afternoon.
I know we have been burning red shirts for heat on the sidelines, but seeing Trishton Jackson pull in his two passes was encouraging. So was seeing our two-way phenom Donnie Corley lower the boom on D. I know he is going to be a receiver mainly, but those young dudes along with LJ having ANOTHER 100+ game could make for a pretty fun offense to watch next year.
Now the question I have for you is this. What do you think it going to happen at QB next year? Will #TeamTerry ride again?
A: LJ Scott has been in beast mode recently. It's so much fun to watch #3 run angry for an entire game, and MSU is gonna need him to if they want any chance of winning either of their next two games. Another thing they need is an offensive line performance like this one.
You're right, they looked as good as they have all season. Unfortunately, Tyler Higby broke his ankle in the game and is done for the year. Hopefully he can make a speedy recovery because he and Cole Chewins looked like a nice duo on the left side.
To answer your question, I think it's going to be a long battle for a few reasons but mainly because of Brian Lewerke's injury. If healthy, Lewerke is the guy. He was already chosen to start games over Terry and looked more comfortable and confident than Terry ever has. The question is will he be healthy enough to truly compete for the position. He's supposed to be ready for the spring but will have to be eased in, which will leave the majority of the snaps for Terry and Messiah deWeaver. If either of them takes a major step, Lewerke could slide down the depth chart heading into fall camp.
Personally, I'm hoping either Lewerke comes back and takes the job or deWeaver is too good to keep off the field. No offense to Terry but finding a 3-4 year starter to grow with the young receivers would be better for the long term health of the program. But, hey, I'm open for starting whoever can win ballgames. If that's Terry then I'm on #TeamTerry.
What say you?
D: LJ Scott fan club for sure. The dude is an animal and I want him to get scary strong this offseason. Some anger in his belly should help with that. Should help with all of them, tbh.
As fas as QB goes, I think that Lewerke is the truth. He makes the throws, he has the confidence and I think that he is the guy everyone hoped he would be. That pesky broken leg though. Anytime you have something like that happen, you have the fact it could happen in the back of your head. I was a diver in high school and in 11th grade I busted myself against the board. Call it the yips, call it being a little pansy...I was never the same. Didn't attack with the same confidence.
Not saying that Lewerke and I share ANY traits, but that might be an issue if he is not the same with the pocket collapsing. Only time will tell. The only thing I do have a feeling on is that Terry seems destined to play second fiddle. He just doesn't seem like the attack dog you want as a QB. Never felt super good with him back there.
So we have two massive games coming up and we have the potential to really determine some major things in the conference. Think we can play spoiler to OSU this weekend?
A: The yips are a very real thing and, given the state of the offensive line, will definitely be a mental hurdle for Lewerke to overcome. (Somewhere Chuck Knoblach is nodding in agreement). If he can't then it's wide open.
As for this weekend, I am very skeptical MSU can win. As good as they looked against Rutgers, it would take a miracle bigger than the one they pulled off a year ago in Columbus and they'd have to do it with a much more flawed team. Also, the loss to Penn State appears to woken the slumbering OSU giant because the Buckeyes are ROLLING right now. They've won their last two games 62-3. That's not a combined score, they did it in each of their last two games. Plus, they surely want revenge for last year.
The Spartans will have to find a way to hang up front if they want any chance. Honestly, it wouldn't be a surprise to see them deploy a strategy very similar to the one they used last year in Columbus. Keep the ball for as long as humanly possible and hope to get a few stops. I don't like their odds but hey, anything can happen.
I don't want to give away too much of the preview, so I'll leave it to you to close this one out. Do you think they can shock the world?
D: Logical brain says no.
But my heart says: