So this is going to probably be the shortest film room piece this year. Partially because there just isn’t a whole lot to break down, especially from a Michigan State perspective. Offensively the problems weren’t so much X’s and O’s as it was execution, and a quarterback that just couldn’t perform the way he’s accustomed to.
Defensively, the Spartan defense played pretty damn well, and kept MSU in it much longer than they should have been.
So we will hit a couple plays here, and then move on to the next week.
Now I know plenty of people online are going over video from what happened before the game like the Zapruder Film, but I will not be doing that here. Anyway, on to the actual game video.
We are starting off on the one high note for MSU in this game, the touchdown they scored following recovering a Michigan fumble inside the UM ten yard line.
This is probably a play MSU was saving specifically for this game. They have clearly worked on it and it was executed perfectly. It was a great call at the time, especially considering it came two plays after running wildcat on third-and-17 from the edge of field goal range.
Pretty simple set up here actually. It’s second and goal from the four. MSU has an unbalanced line to the left side. Lewerke is going to pitch to Scott like a toss to the far side, where pretty much everyone is. Stewart is going to come behind him and get the ball from Scott, while Lewerke leaks out the near side.
The entire play is set up to get UM going one way off the snap and then throwing back to the vacated side. It does exactly that.
Here it is right at the moment Scott pitches to Stewart. UM’s entire defense is going the one way with the exception of the one defender responsible for Stewart. But he has no chance to get across in time to cover Lewerke before the pass. At this point all that needs to be done it pitch and catch.
In fact the misdirection works so well that Stewart might be able to run it in himself, but the throw is so open and they connect for the score to tie the game.
We have talked about the offensive struggles inside the red zone and in goal to go in these pieces a lot this year so this was actually quite refreshing to see. It won’t work every time, but this was the perfect spot for it.
This was the blow that MSU’s defense just couldn’t afford to give up. Giving up the big play has been an issue, especially the last few games. Last week it was in the run, but this week it went back to being in the passing game.
It is first-and-10 for Michigan on the MSU 21-yard line. The Spartans have nine in the box within nine yards of the line of scrimmage. They are expecting a run, as UM is prone to do on early downs.
Patterson is in shotgun with two wideouts and one back in the backfield. The play is a pass from the get go, with the RB flaring out of the backfield, two tight ends running underneath routes and the WR’s going deep.
The safeties play the tight end routes underneath, leaving the corners on an island with the wide receivers. Donovan Peoples-Jones fights around the press coverage with relative ease and gets a step on the defender.
Patterson makes a perfect throw, hitting Peoples-Jones in stride. Person makes a last gasp tackle attempt at DPJ’s ankles but the Michigan wideout is too strong and he is gone for the big touchdown.
There were quite a lot of people on twitter during the game pointing out that this play felt ineviatble because MSU had been playing the safeties up to stop the run all day. Michigan was able to capitalize on it on this play and while it looks like an easy pitch and catch, the fact Patterson hit him in stride is the difference between a big gain and a touchdown.
And that is basically it for this week. There isn’t much else to dive into here because what happened was pretty simple. MSU had 94 yards of offense. NINETY FOUR. Michigan had more penalty yards than MSU had on offense. It was the lowest total in the Dantonio era.
Michigan State was 0-for-12 on third down. The last time they went an entire game without converting a third down was actually the last game of the regular season in 2013 when they beat Minnesota 14-3 a week before beating OSU in the Big Ten Championship game to go to the Rose Bowl. They were 0-for-8 that day.
The Spartans were 7-for-28 passing. That’s a 25% completion rate. Lewerke was even lower, at 5-for-25 for just 20 percent. The closest I can come to this in recent years is a 9-for-37 (33.3%) performance against Nebraska in 2012 in a game MSU lost 28-24.
This was the worst offensive game of the Dantonio era, and possibly farther back than that.
Nothing left to do now but pick up the pieces that are left and move on to the next one.