EAST LANSING — It’s been three days since the now unranked Spartans, lost to Michigan 21-7 Saturday afternoon and one day since Jim Harbaugh doubled down on his “bush league” comments towards MSU.
According to Mark Dantonio it’s time to move on. He approached the podium Tuesday morning in a very Bill Belichick type of way, wanting to address things as quickly as possible.
“So I’ll take no other questions about that, and we’ll get on with Purdue. Otherwise this will be the shortest conference and you guys all drove up here for nothing,” said Dantonio in reference to Michigan. In light of his statement, everyone stayed away from anything as it pertained to their recent loss to U-M and Jim Harbaugh.
#Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh doubled down on his postgame comments about the pregame spat with the Spartans, saying it was mild to call it bush league. Story and video to come.— Larry Lage (@LarryLage) October 22, 2018
Unfortunately, there are still a few things we need to address. The Spartans have suffered a large amount of injuries in the first seven games of the season to key players. MSU was tied for the most returning starters, but nine of those guys have missed time. Seven of them are on offense, including Felton Davis III, who will now miss the rest of 2018 after injuring his achilles before halftime against Michigan.
It was later revealed to the public that Brian Lewerke didn’t practice all week leading up to the game against U-M. After hearing this, everything made a little more sense to Spartan fans, although his injury wasn’t the reason MSU lost the game. Michigan played a great game and was simply better — but less than 100 yards of total offense is unacceptable regardless of injuries (their worst offensive output since 1947).
It doesn’t get any easier for the Spartans with Purdue coming to town this weekend. After opening the 2018 season with three straight losses, they’ve since fired off four wins in a row, including a huge upset against Ohio State — which really shook up the Big Ten East rankings. It’s their longest winning streak since their run of five games in a row back in 2007. If the Boilermakers beat the Spartans they’ll have three consecutive conference victories for the first time in twelve years.
“Now they’ve gone on a four game win streak — playing very well right now,” said Dantonio. “Offensively, I’ve been very impressed with their quarterback. He dishes the ball to the correct people.”
During their string of wins Purdue has put up some impressive numbers, offensively. The Boilermakers are averaging 41.8 points, 163 rushing yards, 346.5 passing yards, and 509.5 yards of total offense per game. They’ve also managed to outscore their opposition 167-68 in their last four contests.
However, Michigan State has won a school-record seven straight in this series, all thanks to Mark Dantonio. He is 7-0 against Purdue, including a 24-21 victory in their last meeting. Purdue’s last win actually came in 2006, when they defeated the Spartans 17-15, in East Lansing.
Defensively, Purdue is holding opponents to 17 points per game, with their red-zone defense being the main reason. In their last four games the Boilermakers have had the opposition score on 55 percent of its trips, with only 36 percent of those turning into touchdowns. This could mean trouble for the Spartans if they don’t have a healthy Brian Lewerke under center.
Mark Dantonio knows he’ll be putting the best players on the field at all times. During the Michigan game he felt his best option at quarterback was Lewerke despite being banged up all week, but is still undecided when it comes to their upcoming game against Purdue.
“Yeah, you know, first of all, Rocky gets all the reps. He got all the reps last week as well as Theo Day. Brian has got to be able to practice,” said Dantonio. “That’s obviously noticeable from last year, last week’s performance.”
He’s not opposed to playing either of these guys at quarterback, saying he’s got a pretty good feel for what both guys know and can accomplish. It’s up to him and the coaching staff to allow it to take shape on the field.
- LJ Scott played in the game against Michigan and will continue to play moving forward. Dantonio says he hasn’t played football in six weeks so it’s going to take time for him to get back into shape.
- Josh Butler is very close to being ready to play.
- Josiah Scott is going to practice with the team this week. He has to sit out one half of football and Dantonio is looking into redshirting him. So he’d play four out of the next five games if possible.