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Film Room: Michigan State vs. Ohio State

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The Spartans were dominated but at least we got to see a little of what Payton Thorne can do at quarterback.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Michigan State Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Well that was about what we expected wasn’t it? Actually it might have been worse. Either way it was a rough day at the office for the Michigan State football squad as Justin Fields and Ohio State did pretty much whatever they wanted all day long. Let’s take a look at the carnage.

Rushing Defense

We have seen the MSU rush defense be a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde situation this year. In three of the games this season, the unit has held opponents to less than three yards per carry, including the last two before this one.

But twice now we have seen them get absolutely run over. Against Iowa the defense gave up over 5.5 yards per carry and 226 total yards. And then Ohio State put up 322 yards on 6.71 yards per carry. It was the most yards and yards per carry since...last year’s Ohio State game. In fact, you have to go back to 2012 to find a game where some team not named Ohio State ran for 300-plus yards against the Spartans when Nebraska did it.

This was almost first score of the game, and it shows you how easily OSU was getting what it wanted on the ground. This is just an option read that is handed off to Master Teague. The snap is high but Fields is able to bring it down without disrupting the timing too badly.

Teague is going to work between the tackle and guard on the left side of the line, and a huge hole is opened up. The tight end (orange) comes in motion at the snap and seals the edge on the left side.

Noah Harvey (red) goes unblocked up the middle and has a chance to make a play for negative yards, but he whiffs on Teague. It all falls apart from there. Antjuan Simmons (green) gets caught watching Fields on the option, and doesn’t fill the gap. By the time Simmons figures it out, it is too late. That allows Teague to burst through and he’s off to the races.

You can see Harvey miss in the backfield at the start of the play, followed by Simmons late reaction after that. You also see a less than stellar route to the ball carrier by safety Tre Person, who was really the only other defender that had a chance to stop this play before it went for a big gain.

Lots of good lessons for the coaches to point out in this one.

Payton Thorne Touchdown

Payton Thorne came into the game and really played pretty well. He had a couple of hiccups, a fumble late in the first half and an interception, but he did complete his first 11 passes and seemed to get the offense into a rhythm. For the game he was 16-25 for 147 yards.

He also showed once again what he can do with his legs. While he technically only had 42 yards on nine carries, the total would have been higher if you take out the sacks.

Here we see MSU get on the board thanks to a very good read option run from Thorne.

Thorne is going to fake the handoff to the running back, who works up the middle. The tight end (red) is going to come down and block the linebacker at the next level. This is what really springs the play open for Thorne. He also gets some good downfield blocking from his receiver on that side.

Thorne does a great job both selling the fake and getting out quickly to the edge. He also has shown a good ability to follow the blocking, as he hits the lane and bursts upfield here.

Overall I think this is an area that Thorne can really add something to the offense. He is quicker at making the decision on the read, and seems to have a better feel for running the play than Rocky Lombardi does.

The other area that Thorne has shown quicker decision making is in the passing game. He was making quick decisions and throws and working through progressions quicker than we have seen from Lombardi. The deep shots aren’t likely to be as good as Rocky, but the ball was moving much more consistently with Thorne.

Hopefully Payton gets the start next week against Penn State, because I think we know what we have with Lombardi, but we need to see more of Thorne.

That’s all for this week as there really isn’t that much worth watching. Hoping for a better outcome against Penn State next week.