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Film Room: Bowling Green

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It wasn’t always pretty, but MSU did some good things in their opening game.

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

Each week we will take a look at a couple of the big plays from Saturday’s game and break them down to see what went right, or wrong for the Spartans. There was much more good than bad this week for the Spartans so let’s see what worked well against Bowling Green.

Madre London TD Run

It looked like the Spartans were going to find the endzone on their first drive of the game, but L.J. Scott’s fumble on the goal line put an end to that. It would take a few more possessions but eventually it would be Madre London toting the rock across the goal line for the first Spartan TD of the season. Let’s take a look.

It is 2nd and 4 from the Bowling Green 7-yard line. MSU is in a tight formation with just the single WR flanked out wide on the near side. London is the deep back. The WR tight at the top is going to come into the backfield for a fake following the hand-off.

Noah Davis is the tight end (circled) behind the line who is going to come across the formation and seal off the outside end on the near side. The rest of the offensive line is going to crash down on the right (far) side.

Here we see the play working to perfection. The O-line crashing right seals off that side, while Davis (yellow circle) takes out his man off the near side. The lone unaccounted for Falcon (red circle) has over pursued and won’t be able to recover. London has a nice little lane to blast through and by the time the safety reacts, he’s into the end zone untouched. Link to the full play here.

Felton Davis TD Catch

This was the third touchdown of the game for the Spartans that came early in the third quarter and was really when they started to pull away.

It is 3rd and goal from the Bowling Green 8-yard line. MSU comes out in shotgun in a four WR set with one back in the backfield to Lewerke’s left. Davis (yellow circle) is in the slot on the left (far) side.

The WR on the far side runs to about a five yard route and stops. The two receivers on the near side run in routes toward the center of the end zone. Davis make a little hesitation move at the line, and then runs more or less straight out with a little fade towards the sideline.

Bowling Green gets caught with two players (red circle) covering the near side slot receiver, which pretty much leaves the two corners up top on an island. That is a match-up MSU will take whenever they can get it.

The ball (red circle) is already on its way here and we see that Davis has the position he wants against the smaller corner, who hasn’t had a chance to turn around to look for the ball. Lewerke’s throw is perfect and allows Davis to use his size and position to go up and get the ball, which he does.

This play is an example of not so much a perfectly drawn up and executed play, as much as it is an example of finding the right match-up within the play to exploit. From there it is up to the players, in this case Lewerke and Davis, to execute the play and take advantage of the mismatch. Full play here.

Tyson Smith Pick Six

This turned out to be the play of the game, and one of the best stories of the young college football season. Tyson Smith, who suffered a stroke nine months ago, jumps the route and takes it to the house to put the game on ice for the Spartans.

Now you cant even see Smith on this angle pre-snap, as he is on the near side out of the picture. Bowling Green is going to fake the hand-off out of the shotgun and then the QB is going to stare down the WR on the near side. Now the near side slot receiver is going to run a short out route, while the wide out on that side is going to go out about eight yards and turn around. That’s the receiver that Smith is covering.

Meanwhile Michigan State blitzes two linebackers to try and create some pressure.

Here is your result of the stare down, as Smith is the one going up to make the play on the ball while the Bowling Green receiver is hopelessly out of position.

Smith gets the one block he needs on the only player who could get to him and he is gone to the end zone for the touchdown. A great play, and a greater story. Full clip is here.

That’s it for this week, hopefully there will be some more that we can learn next week as the Spartans take on a Western Michigan team that gave fourth-ranked USC a run for its money this past Saturday. This week wasn’t a technical showcase for MSU, but then again the first game rarely is. There certainly is some work to be done for next week.