Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Spring Game 2015: A 9-3 Shootout: Learning Lessons

OK, it was only a Spring Game.  We're playing ourselves... but, let's break down a bit what the ES witnessed at Michigan State's 2015 Spring Game:  the ES made it for the second half, then watched the first half a few times on the BTN the last few days.  No, there was NOT 48,000 as announced... maybe 38,000?  Anyhow...

OFFENSIVE QUESTION MARKS????  Let's get real.  The only reason the ES really wanted to come to the game was to see who the hell was going to run the ball for the Big Green this fall. 

Answer is either #28 Madre London, or #24 Gerald Holmes.  Both are hard runners, very similar style to former RB Nick Hill (read: straight ahead, bullish, can't read holes, trip over people) but a bit bigger - not at all like Jeremy Langford (total stud).  Each remind the ES of a more stoudt Javon Ringer, with much less speed than Jeremy Langford, LeVeon Bell, or Javon Ringer:  London is 6-1/220, Holmes is 6-0/218.  Holmes broke out from the middle of the line for a nice 50-yard run in the third quarter... and was caught from behind.   I see both backs servicing MSU throughout the year, and maybe even we'll find a third for committee work. 

The OL didn't necessarily perform great on either side; London's 70 yards (other than the 50 yarder) and Holmes' 48 yards were tough sledding against a rough DL (see below).

MSU's Tyler O'Connor vs. the White
Passing game =  Where was Damion Terry?  Too bad he didn't play with an undisclosed injury.  Otherwise, we saw dropped passes and some poor passes.  Tyler O'Conner (Green team) looked like Carol O'Connor, as if he was sunk in a lazy boy with a beer and a cigar.  Didn't play well.  At all.  Macgarett Kings didn't help, with a few timely drops right in his hands.  A pass to DE Shalique Calhoun was cute and didn't tell us anything.  Total yawner.

Connor Cook (White team) certainly looked like the leader and made some decent throws; he was pressured for much of the afternoon, took some sacks (which were whistled, he was not hit).  He has that cannon on his right arm.  But, RJ Shelton and DeAnthony Arnett both dropped a few Cook passes.

DEFENSE WINS THE DAY:  Gimme a break, it was a 9-3 shootout (as prolific as that 14-2 spring game in 2012), with the defensive lines really pushing back the offense for much of the game.  ES was very impressed at the dominating defensive interior, both on the Green side and the White side.  Whenever Cook (White) or O'Connor (Green) could get anything rolling... well, things just fizzled out quick.  

The Spartan defensive ends will be very, very good.  Shalique Calhoun (#89) and Demetrius Cooper (#98) were in the backfield constantly on the pass rush.   They should be.  And, Lawrence Thomas (#8) seems to be getting into the form we expect to be dominant run stopper on the inside. He bottled up the line all day long.   I really like Damon Knox (#93) who is also a load on the inside.  This defensive line is the deepest, and best in the Big Ten.

At LB... will it ever end?  Riley Bullough (#30) really hit the gaps well on run plays.  It was typical hard-nosed Bullough heritage that we saw in the Spring.  Ed Davis (#43) and Darien Harris (#45) also played very well on defense.

Actually, the DBs played well also.  Nick  Tompkins (#32) and Jermaine Edmondson (#39) blanketed wideouts much of the game.  So did anyone in the number 30s, like Arjen Colquhoun (#36).  Gotta give credit to Harlan Barnett.  He really has coached this backfield consistently into one of the best in the country.  These guys are physical, athletic, and they turn around to make plays instead of the face-guarding days of yore.  OK, we're playing ourselves... but there was little criticism with new faces.

SPECIAL TEAMS:  If you like punting (the ES does - he punted in HS), then the Spring Game was a treat.  Dantonio decided to put our new young punk to work, Jake Hartbarger (#25) out of Waterville, Ohio.   With all the defense... well, he punted for BOTH the Green and White, and must've kicked it 10 times in the second half.  Of those, one was a real treat, a beauty of a 55-yard spiral.  Still, lots of clunkers and he needs some work.

FGs were missed beyond 45.  But we hit two of three.  Mike Geiger didn't kick them, as he's already solidified that starting spot as an All-American.   I think it was #24 Kevin Cronin who was 2-3.  Whatever.

Bring on Western Michigan!  Sept 4 in Kalamazoo... see ya at Bell's Brewery on a Friday night, Sept. 4.  

Blocking for O'Connor?  Why bother - Incomplete it is!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Spartans favored by 2 1/2 over Louisville in Elite Eight

Odds for the Elite Eight via Vegas Insider:

Kentucky -11 over Notre Dame
Arizona -1 over Wisconsin
Duke - 2 1/2 over Gonzaga

and... Michigan State -2 1/2 over Louisville

Friday, March 27, 2015

LIVE BLOG CHAT - MSU vs Oklahoma: Sweet 16

Join the ES at 9:30 ET tonight for a LIVE CHAT - Cover it Live open for comments all evening as we watch the Spartans take on the Sooners in the Sweet 16 - on TBS.  Will go live immediately upon the end of Louisville-NC State.
Live Blog MSU vs Oklahoma, 2015 NCAA Men's Hoops Sweet 16

Sunday, March 22, 2015

LIVE BLOG - MSU vs Virginia hoops 2015 NCAA Tourney

Live Blog MSU v Virginia - 2015 NCAA Tourney

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

LIVE CHAT for Cotton Bowl 12:30 ET

Join the ES below for a live chat of the Cotton Bowl.  A preview & prediction of Michigan State at Baylor is HERE.

Live Blog Cotton Bowl 2015: Michigan State at Baylor

ES Game Day: MSU will rough up Baylor in Cotton Bowl

Goodyear Cotton Bowl
#8 Michigan State (10-2) at #5 Baylor (11-1)
January 1, 2015.  12:30 ET.
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
Weather:  doesn't matter, indoors
Line:  Baylor -2.5
Sagarin Ratings:  MSU #9, Baylor #10

Check it out: Cotton Bowl Pinterest site

Interesting Fact: This year's matchup is the first top-10 battle in the Cotton Bowl since 1994 (#4 ND vs #7 Texas A&M).

Morgan Freeman loves the Cotton Bowl


SportsRatings (a very good, statistical analysis).  MSU 38-35
Dallas Morning News:  Baylor 48-38
Free Press (Rexrode):  Baylor 41-38
Athlon Sports:  MSU 31-28
CBS Sports: 3 pick MSU, 3 pick Baylor (vs spread)
SI.com: Baylor 41-38
Rant Sports:  MSU 27-24
International Business Times:  MSU (vs spread)
WSBT TV-22 (South Bend):  MSU 38-31
NJ.com: (Duggan) Baylor 41-30; (Sargeant) MSU 41-38
CFN/Scout:  MSU 48-40
Bet Firm: Baylor
FanSpeak:  Baylor 45-30
Joe (Peanut Barrel): MSU 48-42

Stat breakdown (advantage in bold):

MSU rush off (234 ypg, #22) vs Baylor rush def (108 ypg, #8)
MSU pass off (262 ypg, #39) vs Baylor pass def (260 ypg, #104)
MSU total off (497 ypg, #12) vs Baylor total def (367 ypg, #40)
Baylor rush off (235 ypg, #21) vs MSU rush def (97 ypg, #3)
Baylor pass off (346 ypg, #5) vs MSU pass def (196 ypg, #24)
Baylor total off (581 ypg, #1) vs MSU total def (293 ypg, #5)
Turnover margin: MSU (+20, #1) vs Baylor (+12, #7)
Third down conversion offense:  MSU (48.3%, #10) vs Baylor (47.5%, #15)
Third down conversion defense:  MSU (30.5%, #7) vs Baylor (35.9%, #28)
Time of possession:  MSU (35 mpg, #1) vs Baylor (29 mpg, #73)

ES sez:

Lots of offense out of both teams.  Expect enough rush defense - and enough of a pass rush - out of the Michigan State Spartans at a few critical times to mess up the timing of the high-flying, fast paced Baylor offense. MSU will give up big plays on defense, but should also make a few big plays on defense... enough to eek out a win.

Actually, the key of the game is more likely the ability of the MSU offense to control the ball enough to keep Baylor's offense off the field.  Michigan State has the tools to get it done - if it can execute, particularly on third downs. While the Spartans lead the nation in time of possession, the ES considers the adage: "it's not how long you have the ball, but what you do with the ball when you have it."  MSU just was not effective enough on offense to stall #2 Oregon or #4 Ohio State because the defense did not do its part - particularly late in the game...  But with a month to prepare, expect coach Mark Dantonio and defensive guru Pat Narduzzi to be ready.  Expect a trick play or three - we haven't seen as much of it this year out of the Spartans.

History is on the Spartans' side... and as the course of the season has progressed, the Spartans have been able to improve their margin of victory at a greater pace than Baylor - and, this is against better competition in the B1G Ten than in the Big 12.

It is very difficult to see each team scoring less than 35 points in this game.  MSU has a better overall defense.... and we know defense wins championships.

Final Score: Michigan State 49, Baylor 38. 

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/12/28/4433497_michigan-state-and-baylor-square.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Three strikes against Baylor: Vegas, 2014 margin of victory, and History. Farewell to Narduzzi

Three strikes and you're out.  Here are three strikes against the Baylor Bears in the 2015 Cotton Bowl vs Michigan State :

#1: Vegas. The Texas-sized home advantage has pushed Baylor to roughly a FG advantage over MSU.  That's PERFECT, bring it on.  The Spartans have proven their superiority as an underdog in three of the past four years: in particular, MSU has covered its past three bowl games and is 8-1-1 in the past 10 games as an underdog.

#2: 2014 Margin of Victory. Baylor scores in buckets (so do the Spartans)... but since October, their margin of victory has really nose-dived.  The Bears also give up a TON of points. Against "real" competition (BCS foes), Baylor has surrendered 27 points or more in six of nine games, including their last three.  However, they are also like Oregon - basketball on grass - and have scored 30 points or more in seven of nine "real" BCS games.  What is interesting is their margin of victory.  When you compare the average margin of victory over the season, MSU and Baylor are now virtually dead-even, with a 23 ppg adv for MSU, and a 25 ppt adv for Baylor... but when you use a simple linear regression to model the average margin of victory... the Spartans have now inched past Baylor in their probable average margin of victory.  Why? MSU's level of competition has been more even over the season, and their margin of victory has actually been greater than that of Baylor in the last month.

#3: What do we know about Baylor?  It's not the most storied history - we Spartans are morose, and lament our many mediocre periods... but our flashes of brilliance have been far greater than those of Baylor.  Mediocrity and challenge have a far warmer home in Waco, TX, than they do in East Lansing.  Baylor has really only had two mega-famous football players:  Mike Singletary (the All-Pro, and NFL Hall of Fame LB), and recent Hiesman-winner Robert Griffin III (though 22 of them are currently in pro football).

The Baylor Bears have played in 20 previous bowl games, with a 10-10 record, but only five games in MAJOR bowls: the Orange in 1953, the Sugar in 1957, the Cotton in 1975 and 1981, and the Fiesta last year.  The 13-7 win over Tennessee in the 1957 Sugar Bowl is the only major bowl victory in Baylor history.

Baylor has won two of their last four bowl games under the current coach, Art Briles. Baylor lost to Illinois in the 2010 Texas Bowl and were upset by UCF in the Fiesta Bowl last year; they defeated Washington in the Alamo Bowl and UCLA in the Holiday Bowl in 2011 and 2012.    Under Briles, they are 55-33, a 62.5% winning advantage which is significant compared to their history.  Baylor's historical record is 560-546-44, which is a 50.7% win percentage dating back to 1898 (MSU is 668-439-44, a 59.9% dating to 1896).

OTHER NEWS:  About Narduzzi to Pitt

Congrats to Pat Narduzzi, our Defensive Guru, for snagging the gig at the University of Pittsburgh.  He's deserved it, and hopefully he won't find it the graveyard of coaches that so many others have.  NARDUZZI WILL COACH THE MSU DEFENSE IN OUR BOWL GAME VS BAYLOR.

The ES wish list: Don't show up on the BTN Afterthought show with the Wannstashe...  Instead, Coach Narduzzi, please turn Pitt into an ACC contender (you can't turn them into a champ, it's impossible), but return to EL in 8 years when the Doctor retires... Stay tuned... :)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

LOL: The $8 million Prodigal Son

Just a quickie about Jim Harbaugh returning to the University of Michigan as football coach.  First, off, for $8 million a year, he'd be a FOOL not to coach the roadkill.  Read ESPN's take and it will make the good lord's head spin:  "[Harbaugh is] an iconic figure there and has been hearing from family and friends about returning as the prodigal son."

Prodigal Son?  For $8 million a year?  Umm.... doesn't entirely fit.

Read the history of "Michigan men" ashamed at Harbaugh ripping his alma mater:

  • here ("Jim Harbaugh has to be some sort of verbal moron... We shouldn't look down on him just because there are six-year-olds with a better sense of what an appropriate public discourse is....  What Harbaugh proposes harms everyone but himself; sadly, it's become obvious we can expect no better from this man"),   
  • here ("kiss any chance of coaching at Michigan goodbye"), 
  • here ("he's not a Michigan man and I wish he had never played here"), 
  • here ("elitist and arrogant"),  etc.

LOL. My how times change when you are getting your asses kicked on the gridiron.  May the seas part for the Harbaugh clan. The arrogance is deafening, and he hasn't even yet publicly announced he has accepted the job.  ES can't wait until MSU comes to Ann Arbor in 2015, Prodigal Son or not.

And, for $8 million per year - there are no guarantees... just ask Notre Dame, Florida, Tennessee, UCLA (for starters).

Monday, December 08, 2014

Baylor now a 3-pt fave over Michigan State in Cotton

And...the Over/Under is 70 total points scored.  Only Florida State-Oregon is higher with a 71-1/2 over under...  Link

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Michigan State a 1-1/2 point underdog to Baylor in Cotton Bowl

From the mouth (and juicy guitar) of the great Roy Clark:   "Well, I never picked cotton... But my mother did, and my brother did, and my sister did, and my daddy died young...."

We're going to the COTTON BOWL!  The Michigan State Spartans made one of the Big Six Bowls and will meet the Baylor Bears, ESPN, 12:30 New Years Day in Arlington Texas.  In all honesty, the logo for the Cotton Bowl should in some way incorporate Roy Clark or Johnny Cash

What is the enemy already saying?  Reading here: "Personally, I'm thrilled with the opportunity to square off against a B1G team to prove our supremacy."  Well, we shall see, no?  Wait 'til the Bears get the big load from the vaunted Big Green DEFENSE...  The ES is excited to see the Spartans, and we have a record-setting offense of our own, in a pretty good matchup against the high-flying Bears from the Big 12.

All top 6 teams were victorious this weekend, with a major ass-whipping by Ohio State vs Wisconsin (59-0) in the Big Ten title game... so the Top 4 in the College Football Playoff are: the Alabama $abans, the Oregon Buck$, the Florida State Cheaters, and the Ohio State Wieners.   And, thusly, Michigan State stayed at #8 in the CFP final poll.

The very, very early odds pick MSU as a 1-1/2 point underdog to Baylor... (seriously???). The odds are:

  • Michigan State (+1 1/2) vs Baylor (Cotton)
  • Mississippi State (-7) vs Georgia Tech (Orange Bowl)
  • TCU (-3) vs Ole Miss (Peach)
  • Arizona (-4) vs Boise St (Fiesta)
  • CFB: #2 Oregon (-8) vs #3 Florida St (Rose)
  • CFB: #1 Alabama (-9) vs #4 Ohio St (Sugar)

Here is the final CFB Poll:

College Football Playoff Rankings
3Florida State13-0
4Ohio State12-1
7Mississippi State10-2
8Michigan State10-2
9Ole Miss9-3
11Kansas State9-3
12Georgia Tech10-3
15Arizona State9-3
20Boise State11-2

Friday, December 05, 2014

Who to root for as a Spartan FB Fan this Saturday

Who to root for this weekend?  One down already: in the third quarter, #2 Oregon is hammering #7 Arizona, 44-7.  #8 Michigan State will leapfrog the Cats without even playing a game - and, this looks good for MSU, whose 1 of 2 losses came to the Ducks.

So, who should the Spartan Nation root for? Let's look at those in action ranked above the Spartans who are playing this weekend:

  • #1 Alabama vs #16 Missouri (SEC title).  Always root against that evil man, Nick $aban, who left MSU high and dry.  But, even if 'Bama loses (may as well predict the planet Mars to explode), they likely would not fall enough for MSU to leapfrog.   
  • #3 TCU vs Iowa State.  TCU is favored by 5 TDs.  Root for Iowa State, but much as noted above, the Horned Frogs are a lock against a 2-8 Cyclone team.
  • #4 Florida State vs #11 Georgia Tech (ACC title).  Root for Georgia Tech in a close game, just because the tattered history of Florida State football is so damn ugly to support. And, we need one loss out of Florida State or Baylor.  Fla State has been an unimpressive undefeated team, and with a Ga Tech win, the Jackets may likely leapfrog MSU, but the Spartans could also leapfrog the 'Noles (depending on how the size of the victory/loss). 
  • #13 Wisconsin vs #5 Ohio State (Big Ten title).  Much like 'Bama, there isn't much love in the football world for the Buckeye's Urban Meyer.  Gotta hate the cheating ways of the wiener.  Plus, a Buckeye loss combined with the injury to QB Barrett would likely see quite a drop out of the Buckeyes, and a Spartans leapfrog.  
  • #6 Baylor vs #9 Kansas State.  Baylor is favored by a TD, but ROOT FOR Kansas State in a close game.  A close Cat win would likely allow the possibility of a MSU jump because of the few spots between Baylor and KSU... however, there is the possibly of a KSU jump over MSU.  

Realistically, Alabama & TCU are locks. Oregon is rolling. Thus, let's think if Ga Tech, Wisky, and Kansas State win.  That could move the College FB Rankings to be as follows:

1.  Alabama
2.  Oregon
3.  TCU
4.  Georgia Tech or Kansas State
5.  Kansas State or Georgia Tech
6.  Florida State
7.  Michigan State
8.  Wisconsin
9.  Mississippi State
10.  Baylor
11.  Ohio State
12.  Ole Miss
13.  Georgia
14.  Arizona, etc...

If K-State wins but Ga Tech loses, then the top 4 remain set (Ala, Ore, TCU, Fla St) and Mich State likely can move up to #6.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

ESPN & college hoops is Orwellian

After watching the MSU-Notre Dame men's basketball game, and worse yet, listening to the blistering half-blind discussion from Dave O'Brien and Doris Burke.  So, the ES turns on the radio broadcast of Michigan State, with the even worse broadcast from Will Teeman (he is, by far, the WORST announcer in the nation).

I give up.  Thanks for ruining college basketball.  You all covering this game for those of us fans are terrible: missing plays, over analyzing the game, and moreover supporting the incompetence that is screwing the game up.  This goes for BOTH SIDE
S of the court.  This game is getting worse every year.  No wonder attendance is going down.

The ES thought with the retirement of Eddie Hightower, things could only get better.  Nope.

Don't worry: tis a rebuilding year for Michigan State.  This is not my issue. Rather, my issue is how the media is getting worse in distorting the play on the court.  It's like watching a full-on Broadway play of 1984:  The totalitarian state of referees, Big Brother, how art thou?  Argh.


Monday, December 01, 2014


And, for those not in the know:  We Spartans are ROCKING.   Michigan State just won the national championship in women's cross country.   And, on Saturday, the men's soccer team beat Washington in an overtime shootout. to advance to the Elite 8.

We're having another great year, Spartan fans!  Women's XC is #1, Men's Soccer is Top 8 (vs Providence Dec 5 at 1 pm), Football is #7, Men's hoops is #19, Women's hoops is #16, Field Hockey is #21, Volleyball is also advancing to the NCAA tournament (Dec. 5 vs Loyola-Marymount).


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Big Green move up to #7. NICE!

FREAKING NUMBER 7!!!!  The demolition of Penn State, 34-10, leads to a nice move up the polls, thanks to an amazing weekend of college football upsets...

Watch these teams crash and burn:  #5 Baylor lose to #9 Kansas State next week, #6 Ohio State lose to #11 Wisky (Big Ten title game), #1 Alabama lose to #14 Missouri, #2 Florida State lose to #12 Georgia Tech, and #3 Oregon lose to #8 Arizona.    Then, Michigan State will likely leap frog Ohio State and jump to the #5 position.  Win the bowl game, and maybe jump up to #3 or #4 again by the end of the season.  LOVE IT!!!!

Here are the current AP rankings:

AP Top 25
1Alabama (25)11-11426
2Florida State (29)12-01423
3Oregon (5)11-11391
6Ohio State11-11192
7Michigan State10-21048
9Kansas State9-2995
10Mississippi State10-2944
12Georgia Tech10-2823
13Ole Miss9-3753
17Arizona State9-3495
22Boise State10-2265