Michigan State defense: "is it soft?" The Enlightened Spartan: Michigan State defense: "is it soft?"

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Michigan State defense: "is it soft?"

A few more thoughts on Michigan State heading into South Bend.

If (yes, "if") Michigan State had defeated CMU, likely there wouldn't be the amount of skepticism over the Spartans as there is currently. The Chips had the better game and deserved to win; but, they needed an onside kick recovery, soft Spartan defense, and a penalty to give them another shot at the winning FG. Let's be honest: if MSU wins, maybe ND would be favored by 3 or 4, but not by 11. That's a TD difference, and the Spartans only lost by two -- this doesn't add up. Furthermore, if I remember correctly, this is a ND team that was 7-6 last year that lost to an improved, but not invincible, 3-9 Michigan team from a year ago: that game last week wasn't USC vs Ohio State: it was a hype-fest of two "storied" programs both of which have coaches on the hot-seat.

As stated earlier, I think the CMU game was our first real game of the year; we didn't learn anything vs Montana State. Now, this week, is where MSU needs to make its biggest improvement; and it has the talent to do it. When folks state the Spartan defense is "soft," at this point I'm not buying it as the m.o. for the team -- with an experienced defense, expect them to play far better... which should be an improvement over last year. It was soft (vs CMU), not is soft (I hope). Don't get me wrong, the Spartan defense didn't play up to expectations... but D-ccordinator Pat Narduzzi needs to cut them loose and Lefevour had a solid game experience the week before (at Arizona) to adjust and improve for the trip to Michigan State. Against ND, the ES expects a tenacious Spartan defense that will play better - the Spartans gave up 7 points to ND last year (both teams with roughly the same players)... and y'all think we'll give up 30 this week? ???

The Spartan offense should be the major concern: can a team (ND) giving up 170 yards a game on the ground stop a rushing game (MSU) that has been relatively ineffective (3.4 ypc against CMU)? Can the O-line open a few holes, and can the RBs hit them for some gains and take some pressure off Cousins/Nichol? Can the O-line keep the ND defensive pressure at bay, and if not, can the offense better use its talented TEs and drop the ball to RBs in the flat (unlike last week)? Having Mark Dell and Joel Nitchman back are huge pluses... and hopefully MSU can stretch the field a bit more with its wideouts. They just need to hang on to the damn ball.

That said, this game really is in the coaches hands as far as how they handle their game plan for the Irish and focus this team to play how they are expected to play. Playing ND this week is perfect: we need to see how the Doctor handles adversity, and he's got it right in his face. The ES says, BRING IT ON!

The ES doesn't read a whole lot into the Spartans having a players-only "team meeting" following the CMU debacle. That's all fine and dandy, and if that is how the captains determine they want to focus this team, then so be it. But, it isn't a panacea - rather it just shows that the players are taking ownership of the situation. They still need to block better, tackle better, catch better, and run better. A player's meeting won't fix that; but practice and focus will.


  1. Anonymous4:03 PM

    Thank you for showing some respect....its Michigan, not scUM.

    ......And we will be 4-0 headed into E.L.

  2. scUM? Respect? None here - go over to your scUM blogs for that, you're lost and in the wrong place, my friend.