The Michigan State Spartans square off with the Miami (FL) Hurricanes at noon on Saturday. Let’s break down the 3-2-1 preview for the matchup: three things we want see, two key stats and one best bet.
3 THINGS WE WANT TO SEE
I spy Quavaris Crouch on D’Eriq King
One of the keys to the game will, no doubt, be limiting what Miam quarterback D’Eriq King can do with his legs. So far this season he’s been limited with his legs, with a 10 yards on nine attempts game against Alabama, and a 79-yard performance on 19 attempts against Appalachian State. However, if you take away his long run of 29 yards last Saturday, that is a 50-yard day on a whopping 18 attempts.
Linebacker Quavaris Crouch is as good an athlete as they come, and has had a solid start to the season. So solid, in fact, that Pro Football Focus has him very highly regarded amongst all linebackers in the country.
MSU’s Cal Haladay is the 9th highest graded LB in the Nation with a PFF Overall Grade of 82.2. His 83.9 coverage grade is 6th.— Al Karsten (@bigalfredosauce) September 13, 2021
Meanwhile fellow MSU LB, Quavaris Crouch, is 2nd Nationally among LBs with a Pass Rush Grade of 91.8 and 12th with a Tackling Grade of 86.0.
King can absolutely get it done with his arm (more on that later), so limiting the complete dual-threat attack will be crucial on Saturday. If Crouch is the guy to spy King, his athleticism should be enough to contain the damage if his discipline is there.
Michigan State cornerbacks finding their stride
King is great at extending plays and throwing on the run, so the secondary will need to stick to the Hurricanes’ pass catchers a little longer than usual.
Miami’s receiver corps features Mike Harley (a senior that grabbed seven touchdowns last season), Oklahoma transfer Charleston Rambo and a pair of three-star-rated freshman in Xavier Restrepo and Key’Shawn Smith. This will be, no doubt, the most difficult unit the Spartans have gone up against in this young season.
With how good King is on the move, I don’t think pass rush will win it for the Spartans. If MSU wins, it will be because of coverage sacks and forcing tight windows downfield — way easier said than done.
Kenneth Walker III eating again
That goes without saying — of course we always want Kenneth Walker to go for north of 200 yards. However, the reason I say it for this game is to set up the ol’ bait for the play action game.
I believe that — despite the athletes Miami has — that Jayden Reed and Jalen Nailor have the speed to give the Hurricanes a test. If Miami starts selling out on the run, that will open up shop for Payton Thorne to show everyone those beautiful deep passes last week can be sustained all season.
If Walker eats, this whole offense eats. How well the run game does will predicate what the pass game can do as well.
2 KEY STATS
That’s King’s completion percentage in two games this year, but that’s also a good mark of how he’s been at Miami going back to last season too. Last fall he slung it at a 64.1 percent completion rate, too, throwing 23 touchdowns against five interceptions.
Of course, there’s always a good number of quick, easy passes when a percentage like that comes in, but make no mistake — King is as solid as they come in the passing game. Nice touch on his deep balls, really well throwing on the run, etc. It will take more than the peskiness of a pass rush to throw King off his game, so there will be a lot to ask from the cornerbacks in this one.
That’s the yards per carry running back Cam’Ron Harris had in his sophomore and junior seasons. And, guess what, his senior year hasn’t started too shabby either, as he’s at a 4.7 yards per carry clip — not bad when you consider a game against Alabama is in that two-game mix.
With backup Donald Chaney out of the mix for the rest of the season, more of the responsibility could shift to Harris.
Harris’ running style is reminiscent of our own Kenneth Walker — reads patiently behind the line of scrimmage for a beat, finds his hole to strike at the right time and WHAM, rips a good chunk of yardage out of the defense.
1 Best Bet
MSU +6.5, over/under 56.5
All right, water is going to find its level this week (maybe). Rough start on the season after two straight years of posting an above-.500 record, BUT HERE WE ARE.
This spread...I have no idea who to take and I have no interest in even touching it. I could see MSU winning by 20 as easily as I could see the Spartans losing by 20. SO, we will be picking a total here.
We will be taking the under here. I think the world of D’Eriq King on Miami’s end and I like what I’m seeing from MSU on the Spartans’ end. However, the Hurricanes are coming off two physical games and the Miami offense has left a bit to be desired. And, point blank, MSU hasn’t played a roster as physically gifted as Miami’s is to this point.
56.5 is a big total — a few points too big I think.
Pick: Under 56.5
What’s your best bet for Saturday’s game?
This poll is closed