The glass is half full: Michigan State must beat Wisconsin The Enlightened Spartan: The glass is half full: Michigan State must beat Wisconsin

Monday, September 21, 2009

The glass is half full: Michigan State must beat Wisconsin

If you watched the Notre Dame game, with a tear in your beer at the end, you could take away that the Spartans' QB, Kirk Cousins, couldn't make the play in the end that QBs need to make to win games.

You could say that this is the Same Old Spartans, pissing away another game in typical Green & White fashion, outplaying a team on the road with nothing to show for it.

You might also conclude that this is a Spartan defense that is nothing short of a sieve.

But, other than the defensive secondary hemorrhaging, the ES would disagree. Maybe I'm getting older, but the ES sees the glass as half-full instead of half-empty.

Captain Kirk had arguably one of the most amazing games by a Spartan quarterback in recent memory. For most of the game, he was unstoppable, with laser-like precision. Spartan receivers caught the ball time and again (for once), making big play after big play. Unfortunately, the worst two passes of the game, and his career, were his last two. Still, football is a TEAM game, and Captain Kirk made more plays than the entire defense COMBINED.

The positive: we've found our quarterback. He learned a lesson the hard way, but Kirk Cousins (23-35-1-302) was smoking hot, completing 10 passes in a row at one time and 8 another time in the game. Just on fire.

The ES puts the blame of the ND loss squarely on the defense. Trenton Robinson looked COMPLETELY LOST and he was burned multiple times for TDs, especially on the TD to Floyd when Robinson twiddled his thumbs in the secondary instead of rolling over to cover the deep ball when Floyd passed Eric Gordon. It was pathetic. Time to pull Robinson out of there. The secondary played better as the game went along, especially when they started to play bump-and-run... but still didn't make enough big plays; this is a DB corps that completely lacks confidence at this point. If the Spartan defense had done their part, knowing the Irish were going to throw the deep ball and making more than one play (Chris Rucker's knock away in the 4th quarter was the only good play on a deep ball all game), the Spartan offense wouldn't have to feel like it needs to do more than its part, and have all the pressure to bail the defense out time and again.

Now, the Spartans travel to Wisconsin. MSU (1-2) defeated Montana State, and lost to CMU and Notre Dame. Wisconsin (3-0) beat Fresno State in 2-OT, beat Northern Illinois with a late TD, and whipped Wofford.

Defensively, Wisconsin is giving up 164 yards a game rushing (ranked #91) and 169 yards per game passing (ranked #31) - That's 334 yards per game total on defense, ranked #55 in the country. Certainly, the Spartan offense can take advantage. Its air attack of 296 yards per game leads the Big Ten and is #14 in the nation; the 127 yards per game on the ground is #81 nationally, but at 423 yards per game (#38), the MSU offense should have the advantage here and should be able to move the ball on a defense that is eerily similar to the Irish defense.

On offense, Wisky is rushing for 199 yards per game (#32), and passing for 226 (#56); their total offense of 425 yards per game is #32 in the country. This is the problem: MSU's inability to stop the opponent passing game. Wisconsin has only given up 2 sacks this year, so it will again be a stiff test for Spartan's to get to their QB with pressure (MSU pressured Clausen better as the game wore on and had 2 sacks). MSU's rush defense is giving up just 87 yards per game on the ground, and held up fairly well to ND and Armando Allen... but Wisky is more deliberately a run team, and I suspect you'll see a more balanced attack out of Wisconsin this week. Wisconsin fumbled six (yes 6) times in their cakewalk over Wofford last week... that hopefully will be a better advantage to the Spartan defense.

Most importantly - MSU defense needs to start making plays, and getting timely turnovers. They need confidence a la Otis Wiley, and make some plays in the secondary. The time is NOW.

Make no mistake: Mark Dantonio, are you listening? MICHIGAN STATE MUST BEAT WISCONSIN. A 1-3 start would make for a potentially ruinous season. There is no longer any room for error. Michigan State is the better team - now is the time to start showing it.

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