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Offensive Breakdown: Maryland Week

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Coming off of a surprising performance against Purdue, how will the MSU offense respond to a difficult Maryland defense?

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

So, that was interesting.

With arguably the tow most important players on the offense hurt, the Michigan State Spartans found a way to do just enough to beat Purdue last week at home. Despite only reaching the end zone twice, the Rocky Lombardi and the Spartans had five scoring drives.

Heading into this weekend’s game against Maryland, things will get much harder. While hopefully the offense can get a little healthier, winning on the road will be a big hurdle no matter who is playing.

Quarterback

Officially, Brian Lewerke is still listed as questionable. How much that qualification has to do with the performance of Lombardi is up for debate.

While the redshirt freshman was far from perfect, the talent is undoubtable. Lombardi has the arm to make just about any throw and can squeeze the ball into the smallest windows. However, Lombardi hasn’t developed the touch necessary to be an elite passer, and created more than a few drops by throwing his fastball on short passes.

Maryland’s passing defense has been hot and cold all season. Despite allowing a good amount of passing yards, the secondary has gotten at least one interception in nearly every game. With inexperience in the passing game, this could be a major concern for the Spartans’ quarterback.

Judging by the way Lewerke’s injury hurt his accuracy against Michigan, this is not the secondary to rush him back to face. Assuming Lombardi is the quarterback, it will be an exciting chance to see his growth.

Playmakers

LJ Scott may not be 100 percent healthy, but just having him back on the field is clearly making a difference for the MSU offense. Scott led MSU with 52 yards on the ground, and in touches.

There is a chance for Scott to have his breakout game this weekend. Maryland’s defense has allowed a 100 yard rusher almost every week. Scott’s production appeared to slow in the second half, but another week of practice on his ankle should have him ready for the work-load.

The wide receivers are still getting healthy. Cody White is again listed as questionable, as is Laress Nelson. Last week, Lombardi did a good job of spreading the ball among his young receiver options. Jalen Nailor, Darrell Stewart Jr., Cam Chambers, Matt Dotson and Brandon Sowards all had at least three catches and all went for more than 40 yards.

Dotson as emerged as the top receiving tight end, which will only improve with time. Most impressively, the team has gotten creative as to how to get Nailor the ball. An explosive ball-carrier, any chance MSU can get him the ball in space there is a chance for a touchdown – just ask Purdue.

O-Line

If someone could explain the offensive line, everyone in and around East Lansing would be much appreciative.

Matt Allen is going to miss the game again this weekend and David Beedle is doubtful. Despite that, the offensive line only allowed one sack last week. Maryland has 11 sacks on the season, so they can get after the quarterback, but there isn’t any elite level talent rushing the passer.

The line is still struggling to create running room. Some of that is negated by the return of Scott, but when he’s not on the field, there are almost no holes for interior running.

Maryland has the ability to be a stingy defense, but have been let down by an offense that can’t hold up its end of the bargain. Because of this, the Spartans offense will have all the opportunities they want to score. Once again, all eyes will be on Lombardi, even if the bar is still low for the entire young offense.