Statistically speaking.... MSU lines dominate The Enlightened Spartan: Statistically speaking.... MSU lines dominate

Monday, October 12, 2009

Statistically speaking.... MSU lines dominate

Order is being restored to the Big Ten and early prognostications, now that we're in the midway of college football season. The early favorites, Ohio State, Iowa, Penn State, Michigan State, Wisky are at the top half of the leaderboard. Michigan has shown its real, pink colors and has dropped to 1-2 around the cellar with Indiana, Illinois, and Purdue. If the favorites win in the Penn State-Minny stint (Joe Pa) and the MSU-NW stint (Big Green), order will be just about completely restored to pundits' preseason predictive levels.

So, what is the main reason for MSU's success in recent weeks? Surprisingly, it is the offensive and defensive lines of Michigan State. A question mark early in the year, the interior play has been able to out-muscle and out-hustle other teams to victory on both sides of the ball.

The offensive line, despite injuries, is the biggest surprise for the Spartans -- and it has opened enough holes for a running game averaging 143 yards per game (160 in Big Ten play), and over 190 yards in each of the last two contests. And, with six sacks allowed (5 in Big Ten play), it is leading the conference and 16th in the nation in protecting the quarterbacks, Keith Nichol and Kirk Cousins.

On defense, Michigan State's early pass defense hemorrhaging woes have seemingly dissipated the past two weeks. The Spartans put consistent pressure on scUM's Tate Forcier (2 sacks) and had a season high six sacks on Illinois quarterbacks. Forcier struggled for much of the game, and finished 17-32-1-233 largely from the final two drives of the game; McGee/Williams finished 9-28-1-140 and were running for their lives most of the day.

The lines on both sides also contribute to the Spartans dominating time of possession. Against scUM, Michigan State had offensive drives of 17, 11, 10, 8, 8, 6, 4, and just three 3-and-outs. Defensively, the Spartans held scUM to drives of 15, 12, 5, 5, 4, 4, and six 3-and-outs. That led to a dominating 78-60 total plays in MSU's favor, and a 39:46 TOP. Against the Illini, it was a similar result: on offense, MSU created possessions of 13, 11, 7, 7, 6, 6, 4, and five 3-and-outs. Defensively, the Spartans held the Zooks to 10, 9, 8, 5, 5, 4, and seven 3-and-outs. That's 70-60 total plays in MSU's favor and a dominating 36:07 TOP.

If you want to argue that it took MSU four games to "grow up" - when they entered the Big Ten season - you might have a good argument. Looking at the Big Ten-only stats and not the national stats, and you get a different picture of the Spartan team... one whose defense isn't as porous the last three games as it was the previous three:

Scoring Offense: MSU #5 (26.7 ppg); Pass Offense: MSU #3 (265.0 ypg); Rush Offense: MSU #4 (160.0 ypg); Total Offense: MSU #1 (425. ypg). Sacks against: MSU #4 (5); TOP: MSU #2 (32:48);

Scoring Defense: MSU #4 (24.0 ppg); Pass Defense: MSU #7 (202.0 ypg); Rush Defense: MSU #4 (117.7 ypg); Total Defense: MSU #4 (319.7 ypg); Sacks by: MSU #2 (10).

Next up: Northwestern, and the Spartan interior must be licking its chops again.

No comments:

Post a Comment