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Ask a Spartan Anything about Michigan State - MSU - UGA Edition

  • truckdynasty

    Spartan, thanks for being a sport with us. Think what made our season was beating Florida. When we can go to Jax and win, you feel like you can catch a 45 caliber bullet without the blowing your hand off part. That might just be because we previously lost 18 out of the last 22. Any year we beat UF though, watch out! You guys weren't bad in 2008 and you aren't now, just overshadowed by the "media" loved boys...

  • SpartanRocky said... (original post)

    SpartanRocky, I have enjoyed this thread very much and have appreciated your candid answers with our questions and concerns with MSU. I wanted to tell you thank you for sticking with us replying back promptly and with plenty of information regarding the Spartans. Went to our thread on your site and it was a tad bit off subject. However, I understand there is a larger population on that thread which means increasing the number of fans off topic.

    From what I have seen of MSU this year, they have been exceptional and I look forward to what could be the best bowl game of this entire season. I suppose I was hoping to guide the discussion in the direction of your bowl practices.

    Have they started, and are there any significant injuries for any Spartans that may cause them to miss this game?

    Also, just wanted your thoughts on our Jarvis Jones. Have to say I love this kid and he something special. I know from reading that your OLine has had some issues this year with starting talent being available. How good are your tackles feet? I managed to catch a couple of your games, however one happened to be the ND game and the other was your first game with Wisconsin (great hail mary by the way), however, I wasn't really impressed with most of the OLines ability to get into the second level.

    Is this a work in progress, or have enough strides been made to where you feel comfortable? Not that I'm trying to be overly nice here, however, I have one of my junior marines here with me for the holidays and he happens to be a MSU fan, so for the sake of keeping it civil I figured I would congratulate you on a good season this year and hope to have my questions answered.

    1) No problem; our board was independent for a long time (started in 1995) and people came to it for general discussion. That makes the population a bit different than many 247 boards who are mostly recruiting focused.

    2) Bowl practices just started; due to finals and the Big 10 CCG, the Spartans will not be able to use the full 15 practices. Just not enough time. Because of that, the bowl practices will be used more to focus on how to beat UGA than the traditional bowl prep/ get a look at the youngsters approach in years past. IMHO, that may actually help MSU (0-4 in bowls under Dantonio, so something should probably change lol)

    3) I assume the questions about injuries has to do with guys who played most of the regular season; several guys like DE Tyler Hoover (6'7 290 . . . MSU had high expectations of pairing him with 6'7 283 pound DE Will Gholston), Blake Treadwell (C), Skylar Burkland (RT), etc. were lost for the season early on.

    So, injuries to in-season contributors boil down to 2: NT Kevin Pickelman (6'4 290), RS SR, who took over the starting NT job from the Wisconsin game on and DT (3-tech) Jonathon Strayhorn (6'0 280), RS SR Walk-on, who's Jerel Worthy's primary back-up. That leaves Worthy (6'3 310) and Anthony Rashad White (6'2 316, NT) as the 2 main starters left in the defensive interiors. The coaches moved OG/DT/OT Micajah Reynolds (RS Soph, 6'5 320) from the DL to the OL earlier this year (nearly won the LT spot after a great couple of games against Central Michigan and Ohio State) back to the DL to shore up the rotation. Still, that leaves MSU a man too thin at DT.

    4) Jarvis Jones: outside of dealing with Courtney Upshaw again, this was one guy I was hoping MSU didn't have to see this post-season. That said . . .

    5) The offensive line is much better now than when you watched them against Notre Dame and Wisconsin. Here's the best illustration I can give you: Against Wisconsin back in October, the Spartans rushed for 109 yards, 3.4 yards per carry and Kirk Cousins was sacked 4 times. Keep in mind that this game was at Spartan Stadium.

    2 months later, the teams squared off in the Big 10 championship game. Michigan State ran for 190 yards, 5.6 YPC and Kirk Cousins was not sacked once.

    Kind of rare that you play a team twice in the same season, but it's nice for comparative purposes. The OTs especially have improved immensely. Dan France, the LT, is a converted DT and played TE in HS. The guy has all of the athletic tools to be an all Big 10 OT, just had never played the position before making the switch in the spring. Given that the other OT is a JUCO transfer (Fou Fonoti, 6'4 300), he also needed time to adjust to the speed of the college game.

    In short, when you saw the MSU OL earlier in the season it was as bad as it was going to be. The only good thing about having those inexperienced players was that they were only going to get better. I'm not saying that MSU's OL is now one of the top 10 nationally, but I do not think it's a weakness anymore.

    That said, UGA's front 7 IS one of the best 10 or so in the country. I'd anticipate them getting the better of the Spartan's OL .

    Michigan State does not and will not run the 3-4 defense.

  • meansonny said... (original post)

    It is amazing how many similarities these teams have.

    But I've identified a few differences that could play major roles during the game.

    Mich St has done an awesome job pass protecting Cousins. 16 sacks allowed during the season. UGA on the other hand has allowed 29 sacks.

    The obvious follow up stat is how much more efficient Cousins has been. 65% completion and only 7 INTs.

    On the flip side... Murray's legs have converted 21 first downs (Cousins 4). UGA has been a lot more efficient on third downs converting 43.5% (over 50% since the beginning of Nov). Mich St has managed 39% (43% since Nov 1). UGA has gotten teams off the field on third down at a 28% clip (33% clip since Nov 1) Mich St is 33% (36% since Nov 1) Georgia is dedicated to the run game with 543 rush attempts. Mich St has attempted 460 rushes.

    What I'm getting at is that UGA's style allows it to control the ball. The better the Dawgs can keep the ball out of Cousins hands, the fewer points Mich St will throw up on the board (they've been scoring a lot the last part of the season).

    On the other side of the ball, Michigan State is going to put a lot of pressure on Murray. How Murray handles it will probably determine the outcome of the game. UGA has the weapons. But can we make the plays against a legitimate opponent when the outcome of the game is on the line?

    MSU has actually allowed 15 sacks on the year, with 1 of them coming from a sack on back-up Andrew Maxwell in the 4th Q of some blowout, I think Central Michigan wink_msu

    I've seen the same stats; great research man (they pay me to do it for the site lol). I do think Special Teams will play a role in this game, and feel that that area is favoring MSU at the moment.

    Michigan State does not and will not run the 3-4 defense.

  • DICK HEAD said... (original post)

    Hey Rock:

    I'm so tired or my UofM friends making fun of Sparty's outfit. What do I say to these eunuchs when they say he wears a skirt. I get soooo mad I want to punch 'em in the dick.

    VICTORY FOR MSU

    1) keep it to MSU and UGA Please

    2) The simple answer is that Sparty's balls are too big to fit in a normal pair of pants. As I'm sure you're aware, Sparty was modeled after Coach Dantonio.

    Michigan State does not and will not run the 3-4 defense.

  • SpartanRocky said... (original post)

    Your offensive coordinator will continously being doing this...banghead. Our D shut down the number one team in the nation...for a halfbanghead and didn't allow a first down that half. In 2008 it was about the RBs, I guess this year it will be about the Ds and QBs...HA we got the edgewoot

    You did allow a PR for a TD though that made it 10-7 at the half wink_msu

    Keshawn Martin is one of the best PR in the country.

    Should be fun.

    Michigan State does not and will not run the 3-4 defense.

  • SpartanRocky said... (original post)

    Spartan, thanks for being a sport with us. Think what made our season was beating Florida. When we can go to Jax and win, you feel like you can catch a 45 caliber bullet without the blowing your hand off part. That might just be because we previously lost 18 out of the last 22. Any year we beat UF though, watch out! You guys weren't bad in 2008 and you aren't now, just overshadowed by the "media" loved boys...

    I seriously was just taking a break from work (real job lol) and have spent the past 40 minutes responding to you guys. That's a compliment; your fanbase has been nothing short of fantastic over the past few weeks. Looking forward to keeping it going till the game.

    Thoughts on Urban Meyer?

    Michigan State does not and will not run the 3-4 defense.

  • truckdynasty

    SpartanRocky said... (original post)

    I seriously was just taking a break from work (real job ) and have spent the past 40 minutes responding to you guys. That's a compliment; your fanbase has been nothing short of fantastic over the past few weeks. Looking forward to keeping it going till the game.

    Thoughts on Urban Meyer?

    He's a puss. When Tebow left, you knew, I knew, he knew, and the media knew he was on the way out. I'll stand to that point every day that Tebow made what Florida was during the time they were both there. UM didn't want to give it the one year(after tebow era) he did, remember...health reasons. He came back, finished below his expectations and QUIT on the team. I pull for SEC teams in bowl games, but I hope UF mops the floor with him.

    O...and don't let me forget. In 2007 when we rushed the field and made him cry about that. Richt even apologized to Mike Slive (SEC Comm) and Florida, then in 2008 he calls three consecutive timeouts in the final seconds...yes you can say I don't like him.

    This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by truckdynasty 3 years ago

  • SpartanRocky said... (original post)

    Thoughts on Urban Meyer?

    Good coach with the right personnel, but honestly, the guy is about as slimy as they come. You need a shower if you walk past him. Not to mention the fact that he'll tell a recruit just about anything. One of his famous tactics is telling a kid that he had a dream about them winning a the MNC together. Seriously. Just you wait.

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    Michigan State does not and will not run the 3-4 defense.

  • truckdynasty

    Crowell has had that ankle sprain to deal with and he's probably just getting back into form. If he was healthy then he'd most likely get 25 carries, but we do rotate our backs out to keep them fresh.Current order of backs is Ken Malcolme, IC, Brandon Harton...compliments of G. Expect to see Richard Samuel as well IMO.

  • SpartanRocky said... (original post)

    Crowell has had that ankle sprain to deal with and he's probably just getting back into form. If he was healthy then he'd most likely get 25 carries, but we do rotate our backs out to keep them fresh.Current order of backs is Ken Malcolme, IC, Brandon Harton...compliments of G. Expect to see Richard Samuel as well IMO.

    Gotcha.

    MSU just started practicing (CCG week, then finals kind of knocked them out of their normal routine), so they'll only have 10 or 11 practices instead of the full 15. The focus is going to be on UGA rather than young player development, as it has in the past. There have been no new injuries so far, and the only position switch was OG/OT Micajah Reynolds (6'5 320) to NT for the bowl game. This is due to 2 of MSU's 4 regular DT/NT players being out for the bowl.

    Michigan State does not and will not run the 3-4 defense.

  • http://michiganstate.247sports.com/Board/93/MSU-on-front-page-of-ESPN-right-now-6291586/1

    MSU and UGA are on the front page of ESPN.com right now. thumbsup

    Michigan State does not and will not run the 3-4 defense.

  • I've just reviewed the last three pages of this thread, after being "out of contact" for several days and I just wanted to add that I think our special teams units are going to be excellent in this game. I think we will use the bowl practices to get some guys on those punt and kickoff teams that will seriously hunt some heads. We only have the one game, not the SEC schedule, to worry about so I think we will see more starters on those units. I also think that Butler will likely never again outkick his coverage and that we will do a much better job of covering kicks in this game.

    From my point of view looking at our defense vs. MSU's offense: We may be better than the Bama defense from last year that held MSU to one touchdown. I know for a fact that our secondary is more experienced, and our front 7 are every bit as good, maybe better, than the 7 guys that Bama fielded last year. I think that Cousin's will definitely find himself getting up off his backside several times in this game. Jarvis Jones and C. Washington have made a lot of SEC OT's look stupid this year. Alec Ogeltree has been blitzing more as well and he is a threat to come right up the middle, especially if you double the NT.

    With our offense vs. MSU's defense, I have some valid concerns. Worthy and Golston scare me to death, but if we can throw in the short passes and run the ball enough to keep you honest, we'll be fine. I think four healthy backs are going to give us something we have not had all year and that is fresh RBs throughout the game. I think our OL is going to be completely healthy and we may even have 1-2 more guys contribute to keep some folks fresh. I just think that we will be able to do enough on offense to get the win.

  • cdcraw550 said... (original post)

    I've just reviewed the last three pages of this thread, after being "out of contact" for several days and I just wanted to add that I think our special teams units are going to be excellent in this game. I think we will use the bowl practices to get some guys on those punt and kickoff teams that will seriously hunt some heads. We only have the one game, not the SEC schedule, to worry about so I think we will see more starters on those units. I also think that Butler will likely never again outkick his coverage and that we will do a much better job of covering kicks in this game.

    From my point of view looking at our defense vs. MSU's offense: We may be better than the Bama defense from last year that held MSU to one touchdown. I know for a fact that our secondary is more experienced, and our front 7 are every bit as good, maybe better, than the 7 guys that Bama fielded last year. I think that Cousin's will definitely find himself getting up off his backside several times in this game. Jarvis Jones and C. Washington have made a lot of SEC OT's look stupid this year. Alec Ogeltree has been blitzing more as well and he is a threat to come right up the middle, especially if you double the NT.

    With our offense vs. MSU's defense, I have some valid concerns. Worthy and Golston scare me to death, but if we can throw in the short passes and run the ball enough to keep you honest, we'll be fine. I think four healthy backs are going to give us something we have not had all year and that is fresh RBs throughout the game. I think our OL is going to be completely healthy and we may even have 1-2 more guys contribute to keep some folks fresh. I just think that we will be able to do enough on offense to get the win.

    I thought S. Teams were a problem for most of the year? Do you think it's a good idea to use multiple starters on S. Teams if they haven't done so all year? It may be surprising, but there's more to S. Teams coverage than just running fast and crashing into someone. There are lane responsibilities, and a guy that's out of position (especially when going at full speed) will really muck up your coverage. That's how MSU gave up a KR TD to ND; 2 of MSU's gunners (a RS FR and a true FR) got mixed up and ended up just a few feet from each other downfield. 1 ND blocker was able to knock MSU guy #1 into guy #2, effectively using 1 ND player to take out 2 MSU guys. At that point it was 10 ND guys vs. 9 MSU, and ND scored a big TD on the return. Fortunately it never happened again, but that's what can happen when you have inexperienced guys on Special Teams.

    I don't know how to accurately compare UGA in '11 to Bama in '10 in terms of defenses. I do know that MSU is changing its practice plans for this game, and MSU's offense is playing better right now than it was in year-end 2010. As far as neutralizing the 3-4, there are several ways to do it with a pro-style O. Quick passes are always useful; the coverage behind a 3-4 isn't really different than a 4-3 (Cover 2 Man, Quarters zone, etc.) so as long as Cousins can ID the coverage, he should be able to pass effectively.

    In terms of blitz pick-up, recall that MSU hasn't surrendered a sack since the first weekend of November. Additionally, MSU has had a young OL who improved steadily over the last 5 weeks of the year; they should continue to get better. Not saying that they're morphing into a group of All-Americans as we speak, but rather you shouldn't expect the group some saw against ND (indeed, 2 of those starters were lost for the year in the game).

    Defensively, UGA should be wary of the Spartan DBs; each starter has at least 1 pick, with CB Johnny Adams having 3 (1 TD), FS Trenton Robinson with 4, SS Isaiah Lewis also has 4 (2 TDs). Much like UGA, MSU also loves to bring heat off the edges with the LBs: Denicos Allen has 10 sacks (17 TFL) on the season. I realize Georgia has had some OL issues, with OGs moving out to OT; how have they been against fast edge rushers?

    Just to bring it full circle, the Spartan special teams, aside from 1 running into the punter penalty, have played extremely well down the stretch. Both KR and PR rank in the top 25 nationally, and Dan Conroy will hit just about anything inside 45 yards (3 of his misses are from 50+).

    This really should be an even match-up, and I could see it being between a 1 to 8 point win either way.

    Michigan State does not and will not run the 3-4 defense.

  • UGA's tackles have struggled against fast edge rushers.

    Cordy Glenn looked horrible against BSU (it was his first game at LT since his freshman season). But he did put together an All SEC performance by seasons end. So in a similar fashion to your OL... he is at an entirely different level right now (did you say guys on your OL were All Big 10 or no?).

    Bean Anderson has struggled all season. I've read that he's played injured all year. And if you read about him from beat writers, the team and coaches really have his back. He's been listed as most improved, most heart, most appetite. The fact of the matter is that he is more than likely going to struggle in the first quarter (offsides, holding call, and a whiff on a blocking assignment). Then, he'll steady the ship from there.

    I've made the analogy to my baseball days. You throw me the change up and I freeze. The fastball, and I'm late. The cutter and I whiff. But the next time I face you... I can handle all three (at least foul them off and live to face another pitch). Once Bean gets the "timing" down on his opponent, he usually does pretty well.

    I mentioned earlier that we are not a good 3rd and long team. When the defensive ends split real wide, even some of the best tackles are going to struggle at times. We've got to keep the fear of a run game at you to avoid those opportunities for your defense.

  • Our special teams has struggled all season.
    And that has to be an 'edge' in Spartys favor coming in.

    But... we have the talent level to shock you.
    Boykin has 4 kickoff returns for TDs.
    Walsh has NCAA records and has been a semi-finalist for Lou Groza award. Drew Butler is a winner of the Ray Guy award.

    Bogatay has done awesome with onside kicks this season.

    Our biggest weaknesses are punt returns (I don't even think we'll try to setup a return. 100% of our efforts most of the season have been to prevent fakes).
    Kickoff coverage
    and punt coverage (Drew has had a long tendancy of outkicking the coverage. Even the year he won the Ray Guy trophy).

    If there ever were a game in the season where the fans said, "where has this awesome special teams unit been all season?" it might be this one. I wouldn't be too cocky.

  • AASpartan

    meansonny said... (original post)

    Our special teams has struggled all season. And that has to be an 'edge' in Spartys favor coming in.

    But... we have the talent level to shock you. Boykin has 4 kickoff returns for TDs. Walsh has NCAA records and has been a semi-finalist for Lou Groza award. Drew Butler is a winner of the Ray Guy award.

    Bogatay has done awesome with onside kicks this season.

    Our biggest weaknesses are punt returns (I don't even think we'll try to setup a return. 100% of our efforts most of the season have been to prevent fakes). Kickoff coverage and punt coverage (Drew has had a long tendancy of outkicking the coverage. Even the year he won the Ray Guy trophy).

    If there ever were a game in the season where the fans said, "where has this awesome special teams unit been all season?" it might be this one. I wouldn't be too cocky.

    For what it's worth, our kicker Dan Conroy was a Groza semi-finalist last year as a RS Sophomore.. Keshawn Martin has 3 punt returns for TDs and 1 kickoff return for a score. That being said, our special teams were uncharacteristically bad in the BTCG and essentially lost the game for us. One kickoff out of bounds, several other kickoffs gave Wisconsin good field position, and the "running into the punter" call that took away the probable win.

    F Michigan

  • AASpartan,

    What do you think your biggest weakness is? Can we exploit it?

    UGA's biggest weakness is pass-protection. If we shoot ourselves in the foot (holding, false starts, missed assignments) and get 3rd and long, I think we might be putting Murray in positions to hurt more than help (ie. turnovers).

    And yes, I think MSU is good enough to exploit that.

  • meansonny said... (original post)

    AASpartan,

    What do you think your biggest weakness is? Can we exploit it?

    UGA's biggest weakness is pass-protection. If we shoot ourselves in the foot (holding, false starts, missed assignments) and get 3rd and long, I think we might be putting Murray in positions to hurt more than help (ie. turnovers).

    And yes, I think MSU is good enough to exploit that.

    Biggest weakness could be the offensive line. They've gotten better but they still struggle at times in run blocking. If you shut down our run game and fluster Cousins with pressure (which i'm sure Jarvis Jones will be looking forward to), then it really messes up our offensive rhythm. We're a run first team, and when our run game is shut down, we have to air it out and we're really not designed to win solely via the passing game. The run game keeps defenses honest and provides the QB protection. Pass protection hasn't been too bad lately (no sacks since the Minnesota game) but then again a 3-4 is totally different and you have some really good pass rushers.

    I don't really see any place on our defense that sticks out as a weakness. Perhaps the aggressiveness of our blitzes and DEs can get sucked in and lead to big gains on end arounds and screens. But the D will be solid. Beatable, sure, but it won't have any glaring spots of weakness. Although we are somewhat thin on the interior d-line.

    You have a really big o-line though. Good in some cases, bad in others. Our speed rush should be pretty effective. Our defensive backs are very good when the QB is under pressure and all of them are ballhawks. If Murray is constantly being forced to get rid of the ball early, expect some INTs. That said, if he gets a lot of time, we'll be in trouble. You can't expect any DB to cover a receiver for more than 4 or so seconds.

  • UGA has some possession receivers in Orson Charles & Michael Bennett that will impress you (use their size and hands to move the chains despite tight coverage).

    Malcom Mitchell is a "do everything" receiver. Great on screens. Great on slants. Great on go routes. Great on backshoulder throws. His biggest asset is his ability to create space on the defender.

    Throw in Tavarres King, Marlon Brown, & Chris Conley (all who bring special talents)... if the ball is in the air and our receivers have a chance at it, let's say I'll like our chances.

    Aaron Murray can be a little off on his release. If you get any picks, I would chalk it up to this.

  • meansonny said... (original post)

    UGA has some possession receivers in Orson Charles & Michael Bennett that will impress you (use their size and hands to move the chains despite tight coverage).

    Malcom Mitchell is a "do everything" receiver. Great on screens. Great on slants. Great on go routes. Great on backshoulder throws. His biggest asset is his ability to create space on the defender.

    Throw in Tavarres King, Marlon Brown, & Chris Conley (all who bring special talents)... if the ball is in the air and our receivers have a chance at it, let's say I'll like our chances.

    Aaron Murray can be a little off on his release. If you get any picks, I would chalk it up to this.

    Being flustered with Worthy in his face is a good excuse for being off on his release lol

    I look forward to seeing what Worthy can do against another NFL draft pick in Ben Jones. He'll probably have a few offsides, but also he'll have one of those moments where he just jumps the count and just bursts through the line to stuff the RB or sack the QB before the WRs are 5 yards downfield.

    Also, gotta say I love the matchup between our 6'7 283lb DE William Gholston and your behemoth tackles. Will be interesting to see who gets the better of who.