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Football Season Breakdown: Offense

The horror, the horror....

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

Yesterday I took a look at the final stats and numbers from the defense to try and put into context how good that group was all season. Now it is time for the other side of the coin, the offense. This is going to be ugly, so strap in. If you follow me on twitter you have probably seen some of these numbers already. If not, boy do I envy you. The harsh reality is, that as good as the defense was, the offense was basically the complete opposite.

First the basic numbers:

The Spartan offense is 114th in the S&P+ rankings. They had the largest disparity of any team in the country between their offensive and defensive ranking.

Michigan State finished the season 123rd in scoring offense at 19.8 points per game. The five teams below them combined for six wins against FBS schools, with several of those coming against each other.

The 19.8 points per game is the lowest of any Mark Dantonio team.

MSU scored the sixth fewest touchdowns in the country, and the 26 offensive touchdowns are the least by any Mark Dantonio team, one fewer than the 2012 Andrew Maxwell led team.

MSU was 116th in rushing, at 122 yards per game, also their worst under Dantonio, with the previous low coming in 2015 when they were ranked 94th at 151.29 yards per game. The Spartans were even worse in yards per attempt, checking in at 119th overall with 3.49 yards per carry.

Somehow the Spartans managed to check in at 73rd in total passing offense at 221 yards per game. However, they were 124th in yards per attempt with just 5.8 yards per pass. In case you were wondering that is also a low for the Dantonio era. They also finished the year with more interceptions thrown (13) than passing touchdowns (12). Only the 2008 team had fewer passing TD’s with eleven.

The Spartans were 118th nationally in third down conversions at just 33.15 percent.

In the red zone, the Spartans once again check in at 118th in the country with a 52.63% touchdown conversion rate.

They were 117th in the country in plays of 20+ yards and 124th in plays of 30+ yards.

MSU was also turnover prone, giving the ball away 21 times, ranking 94th in total turnovers.

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Individually, Connor Heyward led the team with 520 yards rushing, the fewest yards to lead the team since Larry Caper had 468 yards for the 2009 team. Of course Le’Veon Bell had 427 yards of his own that season, while the second highest total this year was La’Darius Jefferson at 255 yards.

Matt Coghlin finished the year with more rushing TD’s than L.J. Scott and Rocky Lombardi.

MSU failed to have a 500 yard receiver for the first time since 2004. Cody White will likely get there with the bowl game assuming he plays as he leads the team with 491 yards.

As a team, the Spartans failed to score 20 points in half their games. They didn’t make it to 25 points in nine of their 12 games, including the last eight in a row. They were held to single digits in points the same amount of games that they broke 30 points, three.

In their last seven games they only averaged five yards per play in one of them, the win over Maryland. They did not average more than 6.03 yards per play in any game this season, and that high water mark came in the season opener. They wouldn’t get to six yards per play in a game again after that.

Oh, I forgot to mention above that MSU was 125th in yards per play. Which was still somehow better than two other Big Ten teams, one of which is playing in Indianapolis next week. Go figure.

This was, without a doubt, the worst offense of the Mark Dantonio era. The last Michigan State team to really compare is the team from my freshman year in college, the 2000 team. That group averaged 17.9 points per game and 5.1 yards per play.

Injuries were certainly a factor. Of the skill position players, only Connor Heyward, Brandon Sowards, Matt Sokol, and Matt Dotson appeared in all 12 games. There were numerous injuries on the offensive line as well.

However, it is not like MSU played all season without most of their skill players. And with the exception of Jefferson and Jalen Nailor, it’s not like the field was riddled with true freshman.

The bottom line is this team was flat out terrible on offense. And if you read my previous post then you know that this isn’t just a flash in the pan problem. This has been an ongoing issue for the last three seasons, it just happened to bottom out this year.

Whether or not the program, and Mark Dantonio specifically, will address this at all remains to be seen. What I do know, is that it is really hard to tune in, show up, and watch a team that is this bad offensively week after week.

And it’s even tougher when you consider the defense was good enough that with a middle of the road offense, we would be previewing the Big Ten Championship game this week instead of talking about how they were barely able to score two measly touchdowns to beat RUTGERS at home.