Sunday, September 28, 2008

Indiana - The Aftermath, and the rest of the Big Ten

It was messy, it was nerve-rattling, it was scary, but in the was a win, and that's all one can ask.

ALL YOUR SPITOONS BELONG TO US. (Photo by Rashaun Rucker, Detroit Free Press)

My thoughts:
  • Indiana did a good job for the most part restraining Ringer, but once again, he broke his biggest runs in the 4th quarter. I'm going to quit asking how the increased work load is going to affect him down the line this year, as it hasn't seemed to affect him yet. I'm more worried about the OL whiffing on blocks and allowing linebackers to tackle him unfettered.
  • On that note, though, would it kill the staff to get Andre Anderson more time at tailback? I know he's small, so blocking for passes may be an issue, but he's looked good every time I've seen him.
  • Hoyer did what he had to today: Make a few big plays, not turn the ball over (although he came real close a couple times), and run the offense efficiently to the tune of 40 points (not counting the safety). I don't understand why others are complaining. I sincerely believe there are some portions of the MSU fan base that won't be happy unless Hoyer completes all his passes in a game, run for three touchdowns in said game, and rides a unicorn into the sunset.
  • Brett Swenson: money. There's nothing else to say, he nailed all the field goals today, three of them from 45 yards and out. The best performance I've seen by a Spartan kicker in a long time.
  • Aaron Bates: not as money as Swenson, but still money. He was athletic enough to cover the blocked punt to stop the Hoosiers from getting five more points, and his punt to the IU 1 set up the MSU safety. He shanked a 29-yarder in the game as well, but for the most part, he was effective.
  • The defense...meh. On one hand, the big plays. Oh, the big plays. There were a couple times when Marcus Thigpen ran unobstructed into the end zone, a failure on both the linebackers and the safeties' part. On the other hand, they came up with turnovers when they needed them, with interceptions by Ross Weaver and Danny Fortener setting up scores, and Rucker's forced fumble sealed the game. I'll be nervous if this continues, but I'll give them a mulligan this week.
  • Otis Wiley...hey, we all have bad days, and Otis had one yesterday. His whiff on Thigpen gave up a touchdown, and he muffed two punts. He atoned in part for these mistakes by recovering a fumble late in the 4th, but overall, not the best of days for him.
  • The defensive line could get a little more pressure, but I'm pleased with their performance. Trevor Anderson had a sack, and it's hard to get hits and sacks when the opposing QB keeps running out of a three-step drop.
Michigan State, despite the flaws, goes to 4-1 in the Big Ten, and gets a 3-2 Iowa team for homecoming. Despite the starting time for the game (Noon), I'm excited for campus to grow by thrice its size this coming Saturday.

As for the rest of the Big Ten:
  • Welcome to the real world, Golden Gophers. You made that game look closer than it really was, but in this game, you were the dead frog, and Ohio State was the high school biology student. Consider yourself dissected. In other news, It's become clear that Tressel's going to have Pryor throw just enough to win, which is about 12-15 times a game. In the Big Ten this year, that should be enough to beat everybody but Penn State.
  • Note to Iowa - any time you turn over the ball five times, you do not deserve to win. Northwestern wins unimpressively again, but they're 5-0, and that's the only stat that matters. Wildcat fans also have to be happy that they've got C.J. Bacher back after he went missing for the first four games. The question I have is this: Is it better to have a bye week and prepare for the MSU game, letting the hype build, or would they be better serve by playing immediately again and keeping their hot streak? We'll see.
  • Wisconsin - see the note to Iowa, with this addendum - any time you let Steven Threet break a run for over 50 yards you definitely don't deserve to win. The way the Badgers choked that game away gave me flashbacks to the 2004 UM-MSU game. The game also served as a template to how Michigan will win most of their Big Ten games this year: let the defense recover a turnover in good field position to facilitate scoring, and don't let the offense cough up the ball. That said, if the Wolverines allow a team to score more than 24 points on them, they'll be in big trouble.
  • Purdue - shameful performance allowing Armando Allen to run for more than 100 yards the week after MSU held Notre Dame to 16 yards on the ground. I knew the Boilermaker defense would be mediocre, but having the offense score 14 points? This loss definitely dropped Purdue to the bottom tier of the Big Ten.
  • It took Derrick Williams a few years to do it, but he finally proved why he was the #1 recruit in the nation. Penn State gave up a decent amount of yards to Illinois, but against that offense, it'll happen. The main point is that the Spread HD (remember when that name used to be mocked a month and a half ago? Good times.) worked to the tune of 31 points. Add in a kickoff return for a TD, and 38 points will be enough to beat most teams. More and more, it's looking like the October 25th game pitting the Nittany Lions against the Buckeyes at The Horseshoe will be the de facto conference title game.
That's it. This week I'll get around to a Big Ten Round Table post and an Iowa preview, but that'll be about it, life is once again wedging its way in time-consuming positions. Have a happy homecoming week, y'all.


DP99 said...

A little concerned after this last game. MSU had an absolute obligation to win the way IU kept killing themselves. Even so, MSU was a few plays from losing. The defensive miscues brought back memories of the bad old days. Along with the suggestion of having Anderson take a few carries: would it kill teams that run traditional offenses like MSU add shotgun run hand-offs from spread formations? Thigpen kept busting out long runs from what looked like about the same play, that little inside hand-off from shotgun, then run straight in between the guards. It was just about what Jaren Hayes and Jason Teague used to run in 04-05, very effectively, by the way. Finally, can we get the guy who gets 40 touches a game off the kick return game??? Why are we getting him hit a few more times a game for no appreciable advantage?

Finally finally, nice note on Hoyer. There is no reason to get nasty on the guy. To me he is a kid who plays as best as he can, and while limited on talent and ability, he manages to keep things under control for most part.

witless chum said...

We do run that play from the shotgun and ran it against Indiana, with Brian Hoyer executing the least respected run fake in the history of the universe. (That might be good for Threetesque scamper some week. I can see the defense not believe its eyes that Hoyer has the ball)

Hoyer is good enough to win a lot of games with. MSU fans (I can't believe I'm typing this) are spoiled. Smoker and Stanton were both guys that you felt like could pull a game out of their ass and win. (Drew didn't actually do this as much as we seem to think IMO) Hoyer doesn't give you that feeling, but he is a solid QB.

The defense kind of looks like we're built to stop teams like us, but we're faced with only two prostyle opponents left on the schedule. I don't know where those huge lanes disappeared to.

I tend to agree with the commentators who were down on Coach D for packing it in at the end of the 1st half. IU was looking explosive already and Hoyer looked sharp. Should have at least tried a screen to Ringer, or something more aggressive, especially with the Hoosiers getting the ball in the second half.

Lack of QB pressure, even on the non-three step drops is still very worrisome. C.J. Bacher, especially, standing back there unmolested is espeically scary. Anderson's sack was nice, though, in that he got it with a three man rush.

DP99 said...

Yeah, that pack-it-in at the end of the half drove me nuts. But that was standard Tressel 01-04. It's a little bit of an indictment of the coach not trusting his QB completely.

Dr Huxtable said...

I'm sure Hoyer's a great kid, and I'm sure he's playing his ass off every game, but he doesn't inspire any sort of confidence. I root for him to put it all together each weekend, but since he still can't correct basic issues (locking onto receivers, throwing behind them) I'm going to get nervous when he drops back to pass.