Monday, December 31, 2012

22 more thoughts from the ES on MSU over TCU in B-Dubs Bowl

In no particular order, below are some more concrete thoughts from the 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl victory.  The ES' original comments posted at 2 am (and refined by 11 am) are also available linking here

1.    Peanut Barrell – packed at kickoff; the first half was so awful to watch, the place was 80% empty by halftime… it was also just past midnight. 
2.    ES and Big Bob closed the Barrell. When the game ended, there was noone else in the bar, if you can believe it. Center of the universe, and it’s Big Bob and the ES that remain standing.
3.    First three quarters of offense were a disaster for MSU – Roushar had no idea what to do or to call, complete lack of rhythm by the offense and the play calling. In the first half, it was as poor of an offensive performance all year by the Spartans.  Reminded the ES of the game vs Notre Dame.
4.    Great time management at end of game by MD.  The ES was very impressed at how the Doctor called timeouts to stop the clock during TCU’s drive for a field goal – with MSU’s offense playing as poorly as it had, the Spartans needed as much time as possible to get down the field to have a chance to win.
5.    Maxwell unable to make good, quick decisions – throughout the game he had difficulty in figuring out what to do, either in the pocket or on the run.  His 6-for-16 efficiency is a reflection of his difficulties (and good TCU defense combined with spotty pass protection).  However, the few times he DID make a good decision…
6.    Dropped passes were not Maxwell’s fault.  Lippett, Burbridge, and Mumphrey all dropped passes at times when Maxwell had nice throws, or when he was under pressure.  The timing of the drops, particularly on third down, was poor and killed drives. Still...
7.    Connor Cook ran better, and had more zip on his throws.  He just looked better.  He was in charge.
8.    When MSU did throw to its TEs and RBs, it certainly proved most effective. Sims had three catches, each of them were huge; of the 11 receptions, six were by TEs and RBs.
9.    The only throw downfield that I can recall was the throw by Bell to Hammock for 29 yards; when your RB has the longest pass play of the game, it means you have major issues at QB. Offensive coordinator Dan Roushar just did a poor job of calling plays to get his WRs and TEs open and downfield.  However, WRs also need to be able to break free and find ways to get open, and often they just gave up on their routes. But, a coach should change his scheming based on what he knows of his teams' strengths and weaknesses.  The bowl game continued the frustrating reality that Roushar all season has had a tough time accepting the fact that this year's passing game is about 10% as effective as under Kirk Cousins.
10.    The MSU offensive line held up well on last drive, but did not play well in pass protection for most of the game.  As mentioned earlier, Maxwell’s issues were not all his fault; it is a team game… but Maxwell just is not talented enough to overcome other deficiencies and make plays when absolutely necessary.  Dantonio's call to put in Cook when it mattered most was a good move - yet another ballsy, risky move that paid off for MD in his Spartan tenure.
11.    The Spartan defensive line was stiff and mean, particularly in second half.  Remarkable how consistently terrific MSU defense was. Other than the first TD drive by TCU, the Frogs barely had room to run all day.
12.    Marcus Rush, Denicos Allen, Will Gholston played extremely well. Max Bullough played well.  This defense makes me want to cry for joy.
13.    TCU’s pair of deep throws that were successful were a result of Spartan safeties taking a risk going for the ball… and missing.  On the other hand, catching up from the miss and tackling the Frog receivers before they scored resulted in TCU settling for FGs instead of TDs.
14.    Sadler punted amazingly well for MSU.  If not for Bell, Sadler probably was the MVP for the Spartans because of his ability to flip the field – and the booming 55-yard punt that led to the late TCU turnover turned into a TD for MSU. 
15.    TCU gave MSU a gift with its muffed punt as a fumble deep in Spartan territory – the 2-0 difference in turnovers was the difference in the game
16.    ES predicted 17-14; ended up 17-16… pretty close.
17.   No need to say much about LeVeon Bell - just the best RB to come out of MSU since Lorenzo White.  He was nothing short of incredible all game, and particularly in the second half.   He accounted for 77% of MSU's offense (174 of 227 yards). 
18.    MSU held TCU to 69 total yards and three points in the second half.  Just total, complete domination.
19.    Shame to see such an amazing defense supported by such a terrible offense all year, and the B-Dubs bowl was the perfect example.
20.    What a great defense to watch all year – dominating, best since the Rose Bowl year of 1987-88.  Who is returning?  Graduating are Johnny Adams, Tyler Hoover, Anthony Rashad White, and Chris Norman.   But when you look at the depth… oh my, this has the makings of another outstanding group to lead the Big Ten in defense next year.
21.    Pat Narduzzi may land a job somewhere…. But what decent job is open?  Purdue would have been a great fit. But, let’s hope for Spartans’ sake he sticks around another year or three.
22.  Finally, let's compare the MSU drive chart for the first half and the TCU drive chart for the second half.  Remarkably terrible.

MSU      1st M28  15:00  Kickoff       M31  12:56  Punt           3-3    2:04
MSU      1st M20  11:52  Punt          M24  10:16  Punt           3-4    1:36
MSU      1st M25  05:45  Kickoff       M47  02:12  Punt           6-22   3:33
MSU      2nd M32  13:19  Kickoff       M48  11:13  Punt           5-16   2:06
MSU      2nd M12  08:09  Kickoff       M33  05:42  Punt           6-21   2:27
MSU      2nd M36  03:48  Interception  M41  02:20  Punt           3-5    1:28
MSU      2nd M47  01:19  Punt          T48  00:09  Punt           3-5    1:10
TCU      3rd T30  14:54  Kickoff       M49  12:07  Punt           5-21   2:47
TCU      3rd T35  08:42  Punt          T42  07:08  Punt           3-7    1:34
TCU      3rd T25  00:34  Kickoff       T34  14:04  Punt           3-9    1:30
TCU      4th T40  12:40  Punt          M39  10:26  Punt           4-21   2:14
TCU      4th T09  00:00  Punt          T04  07:13  Fumble         0--5   0:00
TCU      4th T30  06:53  Kickoff       T25  05:59  Punt           3--5   0:54
TCU      4th T36  04:26  Punt          M36  02:42 *FIELD GOAL     6-28   1:44
TCU      4th T30  00:55  Kickoff       T23  00:21  Downs          4--7   0:34

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cook's the new Spartan leader in 17-16 MSU victory over TCU


The big story - for those of you doubting the reality, Connor Cook will (hopefully) be the bright, new kickstart to the Spartan offense - following his leadership in the stunning, 17-16 victory by MSU over TCU in the B-Dubs bowl tonight. The point about all of this isn't what the coaches or players did wrong (plenty on offense), but who was the one guy who did anything right: Cook did plenty right, he made plays that Andrew Maxwell didn't make all season.

However, the real story today was the Spartan defense CRUSHING TCU in the second half, holding the Frogs to just 69 total yards for the final 30 minutes; MSU dominated defensively today when it really mattered, and turned up the heat with QB sacks and pressure late in the game. Michigan State allowed just 288 total yards, and Will Ghoston had constant pressure for the Spartans. ES also loved the play of Denicos Allen, Max Bullough, Darqueze Dennard, and Marcus Rush - these guys played just fantastic all game long, flying all around the field.

Cook was far from brilliant, but he was very.. well... Gator Tim Tebow-like (THE ES HATES TEBOW) in his ability to GET THNGS DONE. Period. End of story, the way the team reacted, responded, and executed to Cook was far and away more productive than from Maxwell.  OMG, a guy (Maxwell) all year long starting for your team, and finishing 6-of-16 for 28 yards in a bowl game?  The only bowl I know for that performance is the Toilet Bowl that I threw up in.

LeVeon Bell was fantastic, as usual, the only consistent bright spot all game long, running for 145 yards... and getting stronger as the game wore on.  The ES was on OC Dan Roushar's case for a good part of the game, but it was a brilliant call at the right time for Bell to throw a pass from the wildcat -- it was the key play in the game, the longest pass play (29 yards) for the Spartans at the end of the third quarter, that set up the TD from Cook to Burbridge.

There may be some dispute over whether or not to try for a score with the team at midfield near the end of the first half.  But, it was a good call, and no surprise, that coach D called a run to end the first half instead of passing to try to get a field goal... Maxwell nearly had two interceptions on brutal throws, and State just couldn't afford him to make another bonehead throw that may lead to a TCU score.   

The offensive line was terrible in the first half, but did seem to play better in the second half, particularly responding with better protection and run blocking with Cook under center.  Both QBs were inefficient, but Cook certainly looked the part of a leader, and Cook got things done in the end - leading the final drive with a couple of key throws to get into FG range for Conroy's 47-yard game winner.  He has GOT to be the starting QB heading into the spring.  The ES is giddy in our 17-16 victory over TCU. It is a TEAM effort.  But, the ES leaves you with some telling stats.  G'night!

Look at how dreadful the passing statistics were tonight:

Connor Cook4/11474.310
Andrew Maxwell6/16281.800
Le'Veon Bell1/12929.000

Saturday, December 29, 2012

LIVE CHAT: B-Dubs Bowl, MSU vs TCU

Friday, December 28, 2012

ES Game Day & LIVE CHAT: Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl Preview

Michigan State vs Texas Christian
LIVE CHAT ON ES WEBSITE (available by 9 PM)

MSU Spartans (# 40 Sagarin, 6-6/3-5), TCU Horned Frogs (# 27 Sagarin, 7-5/3-5)
December 29, 2012.  10:15 pm ET.
Stadium, Tempe, AZ
Weather: 60 degrees, clear skies.
Latest line:  TCU favored by 2-1/2


ES sez:  LIVE CHAT!  The ES will have a live chat on his blog during the B-Dubs game, so tune it!  A more indepth preview will  be up by Saturday, but a defense battle and inept offenses mean…  MSU 17, TCU 14.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

ES Game Day preview status

ES preview for Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl - the ES is traveling, and may or may not be able to get a complete preview up to the ES website in time for the game. However, there may be a blog posting for this. Stay tuned. But, if I were to make an early prediction, it would be based on a battle of defenses and mistake-prone offenses: Michigan State 17, TCU 14.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Nix dominates in win over Texas

Watch out, Big Ten. If Derrick Nix and the Spartan bigs play like tonight, the Big Green will be tough to beat. Nix with 25 points and 11 rebounds, in his best game as a Spartan in a nice 11-pt win over Texas...

LIVE CHAT! #20 Spartans host Texas 2pm ET Sat

Friday, December 21, 2012

MSU favored by 10 over Texas in M-hoops tomorrow

Right now, VegasInsider has Michigan State a 10-pt favorite (-10) at home over Texas in men's hoops.... surprise that it is that large of spread.  If the ES does NOT go to the game (likely), then we'll have a live chat here at the Enlightened Spartan.

Why not go to the game?  We have snow, the first time for real this year, about 2 inches over the past day.  Nice and cold and wet.  Sucks.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Live Chat: #20 Michigan State at Bowling Green

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Thank you Jenison Field House! An end to Teeman?

Wow, it was just great watching the Spartans play at Jenison against Tuskegee tonight.

The ES saw plenty of games at Jenison back in the day - I had a student season ticket pass my entire tenure, including my first three years when MSU played at Jenison, it was punched with a hole-puncher coming into each game (look at right: I just went into my basement and dug through my ticket collection to find my pass at right). 

Back from 1986-1989, I remember sitting on the front row at Jenison, right on the midcourt stripes -- cursing out the referees and listening to Jud doing the same. But, tonight, as the announcers on ESPNU noted, Jenison was LOUDER THAN HELL back in the day... and I remember yelling my head off every single game while I was there.  Congrats to Mark Hollis for pulling off an important historical understanding of the need for inclusion and integration through the important 1963 NCAA tourney game at Jenison -- so many of us Spartan fans previously never knew anything about this event. 

As far as tonight, of course, MSU beat Division II Tuskegee, 92-60, and it was nice to see a dominant game out of Adriene Payne and a nice game by Matt "Elvis" Costello. I am now listening to the radio post-game with Will Teeman and Matt Stegienga. Again, Teeman is absolutely the WORST college basketball radio announcer in the nation. He is late on all the calls, and makes the cheesiest and most-clueless comments in post game: he is completely out of touch with his audience. Oh well, it's who we've got.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Live chat: Sat, 2 pm, MSU vs Loyola-Chicago

Live chat will be available right here at for today's men's basketball game, Michigan State hosting Loyola-Chicago, at 2 pm ET from the Brez.  It will be televised on BTN.  Spartans favored by 16 in this one.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

TCU favored by 2 1/2 over Michigan State in B-Dubs Bowl; Gifts to players; Bielema to Arkansas

The Michigan State Spartans (6-6/3-5) are 2-1/2 pt underdogs vs Texas Christian (7-5/4-5 Big 12) in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.  Kickoff is on Dec. 29 at 10:15 pm ET... which is great, because the ES will be returning late from Indianapolis on that date.

The over-under for the B-Dubs bowl is 41-1/2 points.  Other games of note:
  • Western Kentucky is favored by 6 over CMU in the Little Caesars Bowl (Dec. 26)
  • Texas Tech is favored by 13 over Minnesota in the Meineke Car Care Bowl (Dec. 28)
  • Oklahoma State is favored by 17 over Purdue in the Heart of Dallas Bowl (Jan. 1)
  • Mississippi State is favored by 2 over Northwestern in the Gator Bowl (Jan. 1)
  • South Carolina is favored by 4-1/2 over Michigan in the Outback Bowl (Jan. 1)
  • Stanford is favored by 6-1/2 over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl (Jan. 1)
  • Georgia is favored by 10 over Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl (Jan. 1)
  • Alabama is favored by 9-1/2 over Notre Dame in the BCS Title Game (Jan. 7)
That's right, not one Big Ten team is favored... but if I were to pick one, I'd pick Northwestern, or Michigan State... 

Hopefully, there won't be any poor time management like earlier this season in the Iowa game as the team scrambled on and off the field before half, missing a FG opportunity.  The B-Dubs bowl is taking care of that, giving every player a Fossil Watch with an embroidered BWW logo, as well as a fancy backpack (each NCAA participant can claim up to $550 in benefits/prizes from a bowl game... the Wolverines get a $420 shopping spree at BestBuy for playing in the Capital One bowl). 

And, can you believe Bielema jumping ship from Wisconsin to Arkansas?  That's what $3.2 million a year will buy you.  Bielema will replace interim John L. Smith... what a pair those two make.  ES never liked Bielema, moreso because he was such an idiot of a coach - a great recruiter, but just a poor X's and O's guy, and he's a terrible chess player.  Too bad, because MSU played Wisky pretty well and often took advantage of Bielema napping... 

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Wisconsin to the Rose Bowl? Good God.

The ES is so beyond tired of Wisconsin going to the Rose Bowl... again.  These guys are so overrated, and they are going to lose their third Rose Bowl in a row, this time to Stanford.  It's too bad, the Badgers continue to make the Big Ten look silly in football.