Hello, fellow fans of 7-0 teams, how was your weekend?
I’m sure it was stress-free. NEVER a doubt during that Michigan State versus Indiana game on Saturday.
Let’s dissect the latest edition of a Spartan victory as we settle into the bye week.
You know what we are NOT going to do? Apologize for this win. It is very, very, VERY hard to run a season and play every game perfectly. Michigan State’s high-flying offense hit a snag against a desperate Indiana team playing in front of a homecoming crowd off of a bye week. A 20-15 win is nothing to feel bad about, at all.
Yes, the offense was short-circuited. I think there’s more things that don’t concern me versus things that do concern me long-term. And, also, just because the offense didn’t click on Saturday doesn’t mean it was a total dud, because...
WHOA BOY DID THE DEFENSE EVER BALL OUT OR WHAT? The defense let up just 3.7 yards per play — that’s elite-level good. The Spartans held Stephen Carr to his second-lowest yards per carry clip of the season with a mark of just 2.8. The defensive unit flexed its “bend-don’t-break” mentality right off the bat as the Hoosiers’ first two trips inside the 10-yard-line turned into field goals.
Oh, and was Cal Haladay in the Indiana huddle for this play call? He read that whole play like it was a Dr. Suess book.
Cal Haladay pick six! From a four-time all-stater for Southern Columbia to having one of the best breakout seasons in college for Michigan State. pic.twitter.com/YiAf9n8Y1v— Marc Malkoskie (@marcmalkoskie) October 16, 2021
And another interception was credited to Darius Snow (duh, he caught it), but Jacob Slade was the man who engineered it. He played fantastic all game, and getting after Jack Tuttle to heave the ball up to where Snow was standing was a great curtain call for his solid game-long outing.
Matt Coghlin earned himself on the short list of MVPs for the game. That’s what happens when you bury 100 yards worth of field goals in a five-point win. And those were not easy kicks — windy day, on the road and from 51 yards and 49 yards out, respectively. That’s the second time this season where Coghlin made every kick he had, but the other one was a two chip shot game against Western Kentucky.
Saturday’s game was certainly on the list of Coghlin’s best games of his career here, and what a fantastic game to have from a confidence standpoint. Kicking isn’t easy — especially in college — but he was as cool of a customer as you could ask for on those two kicks right down the middle. Oh, Coghlin also won Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week, and moved into second place all-time in the Big Ten for career field goals made with 74.
All right, let’s finally talk about this play...
w o a h— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 16, 2021
What a catch by Payton Thorne pic.twitter.com/UUr68e1MU1
That catch by Payton Thorne was a certified 10-out-of-10. The awareness to get the foot down. High-pointing the ball. Coming down with it. But yet...WAS TYLER HUNT’S THROW SOMEHOW EVEN BETTER?
Hunt was getting chased down, throws it off his back foot and drops it in a BUCKET between two defenders 30 yards away. That whole play was insanity, and it was great to see Hunt get rewarded for that one later on that drive with a touchdown.
While I’m not overly worried about the offense performance (or lack thereof), there are a few things that have me a tad peeved.
Like the offensive line did not have a good game at all, and I’m really starting to wonder if this whole platoon system is the right call for the rest of the season. I’m now starting to float to the side of “find your best five players and roll with them” instead of this whole line switch. I don’t know, Saturday was not good at all. Kenneth Walker III is great at erasing some of the hiccups the offensive line has at times, but he wasn’t even given the chance to do that at times.
Indiana’s defensive front — which came into the game in the lower half of the Big Ten for yards per carry allowed — looked like Georgia’s front. Bad games happen and we’ve seen the offensive line play fine up until this point, but it might be time to tighten up the rotation.
And credit to Indiana’s game plan to stop Walker too — the Hoosiers were very disciplined on containing the edge and not letting him bounce any run outside. It wasn’t all MSU’s line — the Hoosiers’ game plan deserves a nod too.
The penalties were out of control on Saturday as MSU racked up 12 flags for a total of 134 yards. Yes, the Jacub Panasiuk roughing the passer call is absurd, but that’s sadly how the game has been called the last few years. Another week of pre-snap penalties on the punt unit, this time with an illegal formation that erased an incredible punt by Bryce Baringer.
The punt team penalties are irritating. The offensive line penalties stalled every drive Michigan State was trying to get on. It was a rough outing, and that won’t fly for much longer with this schedule ahead.
Starting to get a little concerned about the game management. We talked about the list of errors last week after the Rutgers game, but going for the end zone with 3:14 left in the game while you’re in field goal range was ridiculous. An incompletion would’ve been bad enough when you could’ve ran the ball and shaved off more time, but it was even worse when the worst case scenario (an interception) went down. I get it was an audible, but someone has to step in and call a timeout to assure the offense that, UH, WE ARE GOING TO RUN THE BALL HERE.
As mentioned, Coghlin won Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week. It’s the fifth time this season, a Spartan has earned Big Ten Player of the Week honors. Awesome to see Coghlin recognized here.
The AP Poll is all over the place, man. Michigan State checks in at No. 9, moving up one spot (and that’s fine, no complaints there). Michigan moves up two spots to No. 6 after beating...the bye week? OK, a little weird, but what really puts it into the “LOL” bin is the fact the Wolverines also jumped Penn State...WHO WAS ALSO ON A BYE WEEK.
The Associated Press Poll voters somehow found a way to compare two teams’ bye weeks and rank the difficulty of getting through said week off. Like, I knew the media loves their Wolverines, but even that was something else.
Great to see Joe Milton thriving at Tennessee. Nothing like a 21 yard scramble coming up short out of bounds with no time left on the clock.
Last play of the game. Same Joe Milton who said after the Michigan State loss in 2020 that MSU's best defensive player, Antjuan Simmons, "wasn't really on my radar." Awareness is apparently not his strongest trait. pic.twitter.com/dVWAmEB9YB— Rainer Sabin (@RainerSabin) October 17, 2021
It’s time for my favorite part of the week...BOWL PROJECTIONS:
247Sports: Citrus Bowl vs. Kentucky
Action Network: Outback Bowl vs. Texas A&M
Yahoo: Outback Bowl vs. Texas A&M
There’s also maybe a 21 percent chance this is real, but the hilarity still remains. Have a tough time believing a guy just has around $200,000 laying around for motel rooms but doesn’t have a lawyer he can call on a whim. But, still, very funny.
As always, CELEBRATE THAT WIN. 7-0. GO GREEEEEEEEEEEN.