Many things come with the beginning of football season. The changing of the leaves and the crispness of the air. The time spent wearing that favorite State hoodie goes up and the time working on those “weekend projects” goes down. (It is fine, the garage can be cleaned in the spring)
One thing you can be sure of seeing a lot of this fall is hot takes and takes that should probably spend some more time in the oven. This article is going to be filled with a few of those that have been rattling around in my brain since the final whistle blew in East Lansing Friday night (and after I watched the full Big Ten slate of games this weekend)
The O’Connor- Madaris Connection
One of the bright spots in the game this Friday was the catch total for Monty Madaris. In his previous two seasons, he had a TOTAL of 7 receptions for 103 yards. Friday night he pulled in 5 catches and 85 yards and it was quite obvious (to both the crowd and the Furman D at times) that Tyler O’Connor had a favorite target and Madaris was it. With a big frame (6-1, 207 pounds), he is a nice sized target for a QB in O’Connor that can always use some quick receptions to help gain some confidence.
Dantonio made some noise a few weeks ago when he compared Monty to former Spartan and current Denver Bronco Benny Fowler, while Madaris himself said that he preferred being compared to perennial pro-bowler Dez Bryant (Probably not true, but it would be fun if it was, right?). I mean, who wouldn’t want to compare themselves to one of the NFL’s top 5 receivers? If O’Connor can work on looking off some safeties and not zeroing in on number 88 from the snap, we could see these two break out together this year.
Comma Club for Scott
I am HIGH on LJ Scott right now. I went back and watched all the snaps from this past week and looking at the way he was running I could not help myself from thinking about how much he looks like a young Bell or Langford. He was explosive out of the holes, running through defenders, never stopped his legs from moving and it looks like the coaches were noticing that too. Out of the 40 total rushes, Scott had 20 for them (15 of those 40 were from sweeps and QB scrambles) so moving forward it seems like Scott is the go to back. Just look at him go:
Since I like making bold predictions about this team on this blog and in podcasts, I will throw another one out there. LJ Scott will rush for over 1,000 yards and 10+ TD’s this season. He is the “hot hand” at the moment and baring injury, the coaches will continue to give him the rock. I expect for him to be top 3 in the conference for rushing this year and with the fact he is not eligible for the draft next year, he will be doing it again in 2017 (and be on some outside Heisman lists)
EDIT: A previous version suggested Scott would be back in spite of draft potential. The writer was informed that LJ is not eligible until after next season and after multiple Tiger Woods-esque fit pumps, he fixed this section.
Nice Work, Jake
You are not going to see a lot of articles written about this, but I have to give a shout out to Jake Hartbarger for his performance Friday night. While we all wished we would not have to see Jake trot out onto the field, he did come out a total of 3 times and was impressive each and every time. All three punts landed inside the Furman 10 (his first punt was 58 yards to the Furman 9 and was returned for 5 yards). Vannini and I joked around on the podcast this past week about what it would be like to have O’Connor listed as a starter on the depth chart for punting, but in all seriousness we are glad to have Jake punting well.
Speaking of punting, we tweeted about this, but shout out to Nebraska and the classiest move of the weekend in honoring Sam Foltz. ICYMI:
Nebraska winning was cool. Nebraska honoring Sam Foltz was perfect. pic.twitter.com/uvvdQiytuP— SB Nation (@SBNation) September 4, 2016
Wisconsin Is Better Than People Thought
When I took a look at this years schedule, I personally circled three games. Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State. Those seemed to me to be the biggest challenges, but looking at the game that Wisconsin played against Les Miles and the Tigers from LSU, I think a lot of people are going to be paying a lot more attention to what Chryst and the Badgers are doing in Madison this year. The QB, Bart Houston had some ups and downs, but he looked good overall and the Badgers defense played some PHYSICAL football.
Michigan State hosts the Badgers on September 24th (another game I am glad we have at home and not on the road) and if this weekend was any indicator, it is going to be a hard fought affair. If you are into those 16-13 final scores, you are most likely going to be in for a treat. #BigTenFootball at it’s finest. Three yards and a cloud of dust, anyone?
College Football Is Like IU Football: Complete and Utter Chaos
We saw LSU (ranked 5th in the nation) get punched in the mouth by an unranked Wisconsin team. The Volunteers from Tennessee almost pulled a 2007 Michigan in their game to Appalachian State. A Houston team gave Bob Stoops & Baker Mayfield nightmares (and Nick Saban flashbacks) when they upended the #3 ranked Sooners. Last night gave us a rotation of 4 quarterbacks (3 if you take away the forgettable drives of Malik Zaire), some of the best passes I can remember seeing, a Vince Young lookalike, a true freshman owning a stadium of 102,000+, another questionable non-call in the “targeting or not targeting” debate, a blocked extra point that scored two points to force overtime, a SECOND overtime, and another top 10 team falling on the opening weekend of the season. Plus, we still have another game on tonight.
We may not be happy with a 28-13 win over Furman, but you know what it is? A win. It is survive and advance time, ladies and gentleman. Go out there and handle your business and you live to be talked about in the playoff conversation another day.
Good lord, I love college football.