Two weeks after only scoring 13 points against Arizona State, 35 points is more than welcomed for the Michigan State Spartans – no matter how they got it. However, getting deeper than the box score shows the offense is anything but a finished product.
If nothing else, it can be said that the Spartans are learning to succeed with what they have. In this case, that meant pulling out all the tricks to beat Indiana.
It’s hard to think of a quarterback who can do more to prove both supporters and detractors correct than Brian Lewerke. On a night that saw the Spartans quarterback throw for over 200 yards with a pair of touchdowns on the road, Lewerke finished with a quarterback rating of only 42.1. Which is, ya’know, not good.
Lewerke’s biggest problem is his inability to complete passes down the field. Completing only 56 percent of his passes against Indiana, Lewerke averaged only 8.5 yards-per-completion. He added two more interceptions to make matters worse.
The solution to Lewerke’s issues may be a bit counterintuitive. The Spartans passing game has been missing the big play. There may be a number of reasons why Dave Warner hasn’t looked to take chances down-field, but early attempts at taking the top off of the defense can do wonders for the entire offense. Lewerke has proven he can make plays out of the pocket and the receivers can make plays. It’s time to start taking big shots.
Who better to take some chances against than Central Michigan?
Man, who else misses the days of blaming LJ Scott for not making big plays? The star running back missed the entire Indiana game and has shown his value more than ever now that he’s not on the field. Without Scott, MSU running backs could only muster a measly 57-yards.
Until Scott comes back, the Spartans have nothing resembling an interior running game. Heyward is clearly at his best on the edge, and while La’Darius Jefferson has shown promise, but isn’t nearly the caliber of Scott.
Mark Dantonio said Scott is still questionable for the Central Michigan game. Resting Scott one more week may not be the worst idea. He will be needed more than ever in Big Ten contests.
On a brighter note – hello Jalen Nailor!
The freshman wide receiver scored two of the three true offensive touchdowns. The first came on MSU’s second drive, when Nailor caught a Lewerke pass and trucked an Indiana defensive player before reaching the end zone. The second came in thrilling fashion, as Nailor took a handoff 75-yards for the game-clinching touchdown.
If Nailor continues to be a productive member of the offense, the MSU passing game is going to have enough weapons to justify passing in any situation. While Connor Heyward had a quiet night, Cody White and Felton Davis III went for 77 and 79 yards, respectively.
Cole Chewins returned to action in an extremely limited capacity, but it didn’t do much to help the offensive line.
In addition to the minute rushing yards, the offensive line allowed three sacks. This is still the biggest glaring hole in Michigan State’s game. While CMU shouldn’t offer the same challenges previously faced, the thought of the current Spartans offensive line up against the best of the Big Ten is scary.