Why Manhandling Wisconsin Matters The Enlightened Spartan: Why Manhandling Wisconsin Matters

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Why Manhandling Wisconsin Matters

Domination, old fashioned butt kicking.

What is beautiful is that even the Wisky players recognize how loud and awesome Spartan Stadium was yesterday, just rocking with the Spartan dominance: "I think in the first half we just were unaccustomed to the crowd noise," UW tight end Lance Kendricks said. "We mimicked it in practice and all that, but I think some guys just weren't really focused and detailed on what they needed to do."

The ES is sitting here, still gushing over the domination of Wisconsin yesterday. Yes, without Coach Dantonio, it was still arguably the most significant win in the Dantonio era. Big ole #9 Wisconsin waddles its lard-assed team into town expecting to steamroll the Spartans... but MSU had other ideas and just mandhandled the Badgers. Physically, Michigan State pounded Wisconsin on the interior all game long, and handled the vaunted Wisky running game quite well.

What is telling is that Treadwell called probably his BEST game for the Spartan offense, using all the weapons at his disposal, mixing it up on long drives (drives of 10 plays, 9, 8, 10, 15) throughout the game. Kirk Cousins made a bone head interception early, but seemingly learned from his mistake -- he had a sparkling second half (he finished 20-of-29 for 269 yds) and orchestrated drives with pin-point accuracy on his throws, including beautiful TD tosses to Dell, Gantt, and Cunningham. MSU was in control from the get-go. The Spartans have gone away from Caper in the run game, so it was brilliant to bring him in on the last TD drive: brilliant timing calling for the Spartan's only screen pass of the day on a 3rd-and-11 to Caper for 35 yards; then, later in the drive, a draw play to Caper down to the one yard line. Earlier in the game, the quick pitch left to Bell on a 4th-and-1 was brilliant as the Badger defense was stacked inside.

Just brilliant coaching by Treadwell.

But, it was also the Spartans best DEFENSIVE effort since the stinging 15-13 loss to Iowa last year, and maybe even better than that. The Spartan secondary knocked down pass after pass, with numerous textbook pass deflections by Johnny Adams and Trenton Robinson -- these two needed to step up this year and certainly did Wisconsin, each played their best game of their careers. MSU gave up only 127 yards through the air - and it was BECAUSE the defensive backs were like glue, knocking down pass after pass. Is this the same Spartans? Yes it is! Greg Jones was everywhere, all over the field, and made numerous pressures on Wisky QB Tolzien in addition to his 3 tackles for loss. When it came to third downs, MSU held Wisconsin to just 3-of-11. The defense was bare-knuckles tough and came up with big stops time and again, all game long. Lynn Henning's article in the Detroit News today is brilliant: "MSU's defense instead swarmed and pursued. They clamped onto receivers as if the Spartans were jumper-cable jaws. They kept the Badgers off-balance and, just often enough, out of the end zone. State essentially put a quota on Wisconsin's big plays and stuck to it. MSU's linebackers, led by Greg Jones, looked like the cover-boy corps they were supposed to be in 2010"

But, it was also the Spartans best SPECIAL TEAMS effort of the year, with Keshawn Martin's punt return for a TD, but also a pair of FGs by Conroy, a nice 43 yard punt by Bates, and great kick coverage all game long.

A total, complete effort. Best game of the Dantonio era. Bring on scUM - we're rolling. If we play like this, we're good. REAL good.

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