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Lessons From Austin: How Michigan State Can Beat Notre Dame

The Spartans don’t take the field again for 12 days, so we have plenty of time to analyze.

NCAA Football: Furman at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Last night was one heck of a football game. By many accounts, it was the best game of the opening weekend of college football (this weekend is the opening weekend, btw. Cal-Hawaii happened in Australia so it doesn’t count.).

While many Spartan fans are wishing that Notre Dame would have won to make the week 3 matchup in South Bend more appealing to the selection committee the Longhorns delivered more than just a victory. They delivered a great deal of ways to beat the Fighting Irish.

Looking The Other Way

If you look at the box score, it will tell you that true freshman, Shane Buechele passed for 280 yards and 2 TDs on 16/26 passing. While that is not an incredibly high number given the Irish gave up 50 points, that 280 could have easily been 350 if you look at the passes that were dropped or overthrown. The Notre Dame safeties bit hard when the Beuchele looked off the coverage and that led to a lot of one on one coverage on the outsides.

This is obviously something the Spartans are going to want to take advantage of on the 17th, but it is not a particular strong suit for Tyler O’Connor. Against Furman, he was caught a few times staring down a receiver and it led to one interception and 2 PBU’s (one of which could have easily been a pick 6 has the DB held onto the ball). O’Connor is going to need to spend the next few days going through progressions and learning to use pump fakes and his eyes to get some go routes open for Corley and Madaris.

Contain and Control Kizer

The Irish went into the game planning on splitting snaps between DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire. They did go back and forth for most of the first half, but it was apparent when the second half began who Brian Kelly was going with for the rest of the game. Kizer was the best player on the field for both teams and unless something major happens in their game against Nevada on the 10th, you can expect to see a heavy dose of Kizer in South Bend week 3.

DeShone was responsible for 215 yards and 5 TD in the air, adding 77 yards and one score on the ground. The Notre Dame O-Line was physical and gave Kizer time to make plays with his arm and when they were not able to keep defenders out of the backfield, he made Texas pay with his scrambling. For MSU to have a chance here the DE’s are going to need to lock down those edges and give McDowell a chance to get pressure on Kizer.

Play Like 2013

5 touchdowns in the air. That is no cake walk and it seemed that Kizer did it with ease. More than one occasion you saw a completed pass to a receiver being covered by a corner with his back to the ball. That is obviously going to be an issue when looking at the probable matchup of Darian Hicks and whoever ND runs out to his side. Kizer put was hitting receivers with surgical precision on Sunday night, so any errors by the secondary are going to be an issue.

While the duo of Nicholson and Cox were strong against Furman, they are going to need to be smart in their play against a QB like Kizer. Copeland is most likely going to be facing the Irish’s number one receiver (will most likely be Torii Hunter Jr. if he is healthy enough to go), so he will need to be lock down to force Kizer through his progression. Going to need one or two takeaways in this game to get the W.

Keep the Irish On Their Heels

This week will undoubtedly be a week of running for the Spartans as penance for the poor play and unforgivable amount of penalties they picked up against Furman. That might actually come to help the Spartans as one of the weaknesses that Notre Dame showed was against the hurry up offense. Not saying we are going to magically turn into a team that is going to run 80 plays a game, but we can certainly make Notre Dame work harder than Nevada is going to.

Another weapon that Dantonio has that Charlie Strong used to perfection: Two quarterbacks. The passing threat of Tyler O’Connor and the running threat of Damian Terry might be just what the Spartans want to use against a Notre Dame squad that hard a hard time adjusting to the personnel changes Sunday night. The added bonus of that is the fact that Terry seems to have a better arm than Tyrone Swoopes and could catch the Fighting Irish off guard, especially in goal line situation.

No matter how you look at the match-up there are a few ways the Spartans will be able to handle the Irish and potentially be looking at a 2-0 record come the morning of September 18th.