Sunday, September 22, 2013

Cook was railroaded

OK, so the ES is piling on tonight. But, from the Freep:

... "And there was no question he [Dantonio] was the one who decided to pull sophomore quarterback Connor Cook for senior Andrew Maxwell for a final, failed drive. Nor was there any doubt about how that affected Cook."

“I was a little disappointed, you know?” Cook said. “I don’t know why they pulled me, they said I was a little inaccurate. But I would have wished the coaches had faith in me to keep me in there in a critical situation like that.”


Maxwell has a history of not getting it done.  So, why ask the pathetic Maxwell to come off the bench for the first time in three games, rusty, when we all know his inability to scramble and make plays did not fit the last minute of a game?   IT WAS A GAMBLE THAT BACKFIRED.

Instead of injecting confidence (to be honest, Cook may not have done any better than Maxwell... but he would not have done any worse!), Dantonio hurt our offensive prospects by throwing question-marks into our long-term game plan.  Maxwell is no better than Cook, in any game at any time against any opponent.  Period.

Maybe Dantonio's thick skull finally figured it out, the hard way.  Thanks, MD.

ES to Coach D? KNOCK IT OFF.  Cook, O'Connor, Maxwell.  In that order, linear.  Period.  If MSU is down 35-0, still play Cook.  Keep with the guy.  Only change if the previous gets hurt.  Knock it off.  You are doing far more harm than good at this point.

Wake up.

I PRAY, please leave the "outsmart-myself"-John-L-Smith-Spartan-offense-history as history.  It hurts too damn much to watch.  

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Dantonio MUST own up to terrible decisions in loss to ND

MSU loses 17-13 at Notre Dame, but outplays the Irish for the final three quarters. SOS? - Same Old Spartans. A few random thoughts: IF YOU CAN BELIEVE IT, MSU OFFENSE OUTGAINED ND!!!! 254 yards to 220... and we still lost!!!!! How embarrassing.

1. The double reverse pass early in the 3rd quarter as MSU was POUNDING ND into the ground via rush after rush was stupid. Finally, the Spartan offense is working, and you approve some out-smart-yourself-John.L.Smith play call? My God, RUN THEM INTO THE GROUND if it's working!!!!

For a coach that praises "a game of inches" and his team is peeling off yards on the ground, especially when it is struggling to get down the field consistently, it defies logic to take the risk and do something different.   DON'T TAKE THE RISK - IT IS NOT WORTH IT!!!!  Worst part of this, is Dantonio knows better. 

2. The wildcat call deep in ND territory demonstrates that the play is old school. Everyone can see what it is, we know where you are is just a waste of a down. And it cost a Spartan offense that needs to be efficient in every play call it has. We just can't afford to waste a down.

3. PUTTING IN MAXWELL LATE IN THE GAME??? ARE YOU HIGH? As expected, Maxwell crashed and burned, and had no wheels to get away from a pass rush. He was cold as ice coming into the game, and his ability to connect with receivers is average at best. At the end of the game you need a PLAYMAKER, which means someone who can get away from the expected rush.  That is the time to get a QB on the run (like MD did in the bowl game vs TCU).  Dantonio got cute changing QBs when instead the guy he needed was already playing!  This backfired, just a terrible and stupid decision by Dantonio.

These are but a few, but the most egregious. More later.... Very very disappointing performance by Mark Dantonio, his worst coaching performance of his career. The ES is extremely disappointed in MD. Extremely.

Live Chat: MSU at Notre Dame

ES Preview of MSU-ND is here.


Friday, September 20, 2013

ES Game Day: MSU Shall Whip the Irish Catholics

Time:  3:30 pm ET
Location:  Touchdown Jesus, South Bend, IN
Weather:  64 and sunny. PERFECT.


Line: ND by 6

ES sez: Before the Spartan explosion vs YSU, the ES would have said ND would kick our butt, at least a 2-TD or more victor.  But, can the Spartans' offensive efficiency from the win over the Penguins carry over to ND?

This is NOT the best ND team we've seen for a while, and methinks the Irish have been drinking and not thinking about how lucky they were, and not talented, to get to the title game last year. This luck has already caught up with ND this year.

For the game against the Spartans, the ES is figuring on the Spartan offense actually out-scoring its defense, even with several dropped passes. Let us see if the tight end position can catch a few key throws, particularly third-down passes.  That means Spartan QB Connor Cook needs to connect.  And, the ES believes Cook as our best option from now to season's end.  Hand Maxwell a clipboard with his scholarship... he had his chance, but he throws the ball like Daniel-son: wax-on, and wax-off.

Of note, all those reverses and east-west runs that worked against Youngstown won't get a yard against the speedier Irish: take note, Dave Warner (MSU offensive coordinator), use your reverse calls sparingly and to set up some more productive misdirection late in the game.

Yes, the reality is that the ND offense will NOT score more than 17 points against the MSU defense... MSU's defense is that good, and while tested, they will NOT give up more than 300 total yards to the Irish.  But can the Spartan offense put up enough points to win?  THAT is the question...
Moreover:  The Big Green has lost to ND the last  two years, and now it is our time. ND is 6-5 over the Spartans since 2002.

Here's the deal:  the ND defense has been iffy (but will improve for this game), the MSU offense has been barf-like (but will be marginal) - and it will be up to mistakes to make the difference in the game. Seriously, it could be Spartan Mike Sadler that is the difference, with his punt placement and/or booming punting that pushes the Irish offense back onto a longer field to score against the vaunted MSU defense.

The more I think about it, the more I believe this puts the game nicely in the hands of the  Spartans, who are game changers on defense.

Prediction:  MSU 16, ND 14.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Michigan State with the statistical advantage over Notre Dame

OK, so the Big Green has popped into the coaches poll at #24, and is a 6-point dog at the hated #21 Irish on Saturday.  Before we get to the polls, let's look at where the Spartans and Irish stand statistically through the first three weeks.  A big thank you to scheduling a FCS school in Youngstown State to help pad the Spartan offensive stat category. 

Rushing:  MSU 44th (209.7 ypg), ND 92nd (125.0 ypg)
Passing: MSU 105th (160.0 ypg), ND 16th (326.0 ypg)
Total: MSU 84th (369.7 ypg), ND 50th (451.0 ypg)
Scoring: MSU 49th (34.0 ppg), ND 65th (29.7 ppg)
Third Downs: MSU 70th (39.6%), ND 19th (54.5%)

Rushing: MSU 4th (50.3 ypg), ND 26th (112.7 ypg)
Passing MSU 5th (126.7 ypg), ND 89th (259.3 ypg)
Total: MSU 1st (177.0 ypg), ND 56th (372.0 ypg)
Scoring: MSU 12th (12.0 ppg), ND 57th (23.7 ppg)
Third Downs: MSU 2nd (15.6%), ND 93rd (44.3%)

The ES certainly sees an advantage for the Spartan defense, but can the offense use the momentum - particularly from the passing game - to take advantage of an Irish defense ranked 89th in the country giving up yards through the air?  ND won't be able to run the ball against the Spartans, but will they pass the ball effectively enough?  The point being - the Spartan offense NEEDS to move the ball and give the defense a rest.  More on this throughout the week. 

I hate Notre Dame football.

1Alabama (61)2-01549
2Oregon (1)3-01477
3Ohio State3-01398
8Florida State2-01113
9Texas A&M2-11033
11Oklahoma State3-0908
13South Carolina2-1811
17Miami (FL)2-0559
21Notre Dame2-1331
22Ole Miss3-0303
23Arizona State2-0176
24Michigan State3-0131
25Fresno State2-075
  • Dropped from rankings: Nebraska 15, Wisconsin 18, TCU 24
  • Others receiving votes: Nebraska 55, Wisconsin 53, Texas Tech 49, Georgia Tech 37, Arkansas 34, UCF 33, Arizona 29, Northern Illinois 26, Auburn 15, Virginia Tech 9, Brigham Young 8, USC 7, Kansas State 6, Boise State 5, Utah State 5, Rutgers 2

Sunday, September 15, 2013

MSU pounds Youngstown State; heads to Notre Dame a TD underdog

Wow, where did that offense come from?   Amazing performance by a dominant Spartan team the certainly outmanned, and pushed around a overwhelmed FCS team in Youngstown State, 55-17

Michigan State held the Penguins to 172 total yards... well under the 700-plus performance by YSU last week.  The Spartan defense gave up just 51 yards rushing.

But, more impressively, MSU put up 547 total yards in a very good performance. And, it was a balanced attack: 277 yards rushing, 270 through the air.  The Spartan offense answered the ES and other critics with 10-of-15 (67%) on third downs, and Connor Cook actually looked like a Big Ten quarterback with some well thrown passes, 15-of-22 for 202 yards and 4 TDs.   By day's end, 10 Spartans caught passes, including three to TE Josiah Price.   It looks like MSU found its #1 receiver in Macgarrett Kings, who was sporting the old BJ Cunningham #3 jersey.  Hell, even Bennie Fowler caught two passes.  It was all good for MSU at the right time.  That Spartan offense needed to wake up.

Over at VegasInsider, MSU is an early 6 point underdog to Notre Dame next week.  The Spartan offense needs to build on the confidence from the win yesterday as the squad head into its first rough test of the sason on the road.

With several losses in the top 25, expect the Spartans to inch in this week, probably at #24.  Will Michigan drop?  They should, and they should have lost to Akron.  

Friday, September 13, 2013

Can DT become TD? ES predicts a MSU win 18-10 over Youngstown

Time:  2 pm ET
Location:  Spartan Stadium, EL
Weather:  68 and sunny. PERFECT.
TV:  Big Ten Network
Line:  MSU is favored by 27


We all know Damion Terry (DT), bar a mistake or injury, will burn his redshirt and play for the Big Green on Saturday vs Youngstown State.  We need to see him play - because the Spartans need a playmaker.  And, we need to see DT before we think about throwing him to the wolves, aka Notre Dame next week. Now is the time.  The ES does like starting Connor Cook. Let's think about how players are making decisions and using their abilities to move the team down the field, even with poor play calling and WR execution.  Thus, even with a marginal running game, considering the need to have a mobile quarterback and pounding the ball seems more practical of a situation to hang your hat on then trying to create a mythical passing game.  Let's just start finding a way to pound that rock.

That said, the ES is very concerned about Youngstown State.  T'ain't often you bring in a team that scored 60+ points and rolled up 700+ yards the game before.  I don't care what level of play, their performance is extraordinary, but YSU will line up against the best defense in the nation.  They hain't seen nothing yet until they see Max Bullough and the Big Green Machine. 

Still, MSU listed a 27-point favorite?  This was one of those times I almost decided to act like Columbus and head for the edge of the Earth.  Absurd.  MSU can't score that many points against my dead grandma.  And it is the ENTIRE offense, as well as our offensive coordinator, Mr. Warner.  It's a total team dive on offense.

Predictions:  ESPN/Bennett, MSU 27-3; Rittenberg, MSU 24-10.   Read Joe Rexrode's chat insight on the game, and the ES is through.

ES sez:  MSU gets another TD on offense, but Youngstown proves a good fight after their previous 67-point performance.  But, maybe, just maybe, the MSU  ffense gets marginally on track with the passing game.  Expect to see Terry play - very curious if DT can become TD.  In the end, the Spartan stout defense is tough enough to stop a very good YSU offense. 

Final score:  MSU 18, YSU 10.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Stoners in Vegas make MSU a 27-pt fave over Youngstown State.

According to Vegas Insider, Michigan State is favored by 27 over Youngstown State.  Did I read that correctly?  That's crazy.

Michigan State's offense doesn't have 27 points through the first two games.   The Spartan offense can't put up more than 14 points in a game if they're lucky.  

Take the points and take Youngstown State.  Are they high in Vegas? Give YSU maybe 7 points.  ES is concerned this will be another "Appalachian State" FCS upset.  MSU's offense is in crisis.  The play calling is poor, the receivers can't catch if they could separate from defenders, and the running game is barely sustainable.  Oh yeah, the QBs are making poor decisions on top of an inability to hit the receivers that aren't open. Plenty of blame to go around, but Dantonio had the last nine months to make an improvement in what everyone knew was going to be a challenge.  Instead of  better or the same... this is an offense that looks far, far worse. 

Now to the stats.

How can we measure good?

MSU is ranked #3 in Third Down Conversion Defense. MSU is ranked #19 in Fourth Down Conversion Defense. MSU is ranked #30 in First Down Defense. MSU is ranked #22 in Fumbles Recovered. MSU is #4 in Team Sacks.  MSU is #2 in Pass Efficiency Defense.  MSU is #4 in Total Defense. MSU is #11 in Turnovers Gained.

How can we measure bad?

MSU is ranked #104th in Third Down Conversion.  MSU is ranked #80 in First Downs.  MSU is ranked #117 in Passing Offense. MSU is ranked #122 in Passing Yards per Completion.  MSU is ranked #79 in Red Zone Offense.  MSU is ranked #62 in Rushing Yards per Game. MSU is ranked #86 in Scoring Offense - which is an anomaly, because the NCAA counts defensive touchdowns as "Scoring Offense."  MSU is ranked #111 in Team Offense. 

Oh, and in case you didn't know it... Youngstown State had 718 yards and 67 points last week.

This is miserable. I have a simple request:  Either, 1) figure the offense out so State is at least miserable (and not pathetic) or, 2) somebody spin the cylinder and pass the gun across the table.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Spartans in danger of going 3-9

Michigan State is in deep trouble.

All three quarterbacks that played on Saturday sucked: Connor Cook, Andrew Maxwell, and Tyler O'Conner.  I mean, they really played awful (a combined 12 of 24 for 95 yards).  Once again, the defense outscored the offense, scoring 2 TDs to the one TD on an awful 33 yard drive that took 9 plays.  That's a little over 3 yards per play.

It is time to put in Damion Terry.  He had hit his thumb on a player's helmet in practice this week, and was unavailable.  But, they better tape that thing up, otherwise MSU's last victory of the season will be this week vs Youngstown State.

MSU is in danger of going 3-9 this year. The Spartan offense is the worst in college football (only 265 total yards against lowly South Florida).  Which is too bad, as the Spartan defense is the best in the country (holding USF to 155 total yards and 1-13 on third downs).

Shilique Calhoun is the Spartans leading scorer so far through two games, and he is a defensive end. 

That offense makes me want to throw up.  Read the box score and gag.

MSU needs to put in the damn flying wedge offense from 1903 or switch to the wishbone for any hope to win more games than we lose this year.  Why bother putting that thing in the air; it's useless.

Love today's article by Terry Foster: "The Spartans offense has been pathetic for more than a year now. They should erect a statue of Kirk Cousins outside Spartan Stadium."

Friday, September 06, 2013

ES Game Day: Spartans will roll a 3 TD win over USF

Time:  12 pm
Location:  Spartan Stadium, EL
Weather:  79 and partly cloudy. PERFECT.

Predictions:  Tampa Bay Times:  MSU 37-14.  ESPN: Bennett, MSU 30-10; Rittenberg, MSU 34-3.  Freep: Rexrode, MSU 30-9; Sharp, MSU 31-7; Seidel, MSU 28-3  CFN/Scout: MSU 29-9.

From the Opponent Blog: Read predictions from The Bulls Pen

Line: MSU by 23 1/2

ES sez: Looks like Tyler O'Connor may get some reps leading the Spartan offense.  Why not?  MSU will destroy USF even if my dead grandma was quarterbacking the Big Green.  We know the Spartans will score a few TDs on defense - especially against a team that dropped its opener by 30 points to FCS McNeese State... at home.

Don't know what to make of this contest other than to drown myself or bring a pillow.  This and next week vs Youngstown State are a pair of tune-ups for the ND game.  #1 concern:  Wideouts need to catch the ball.  Period.  If they can't get some confidence this week, we may want to install the wishbone. Seriously.  #2 concern: MSU quarterback.  Who the hell is going to lead this team.  Keyword: LEAD.  Which QB has some gnads, some moxie, some stuff? #3 concern: Will Langford break out for a few long runs?  Can the running game manage 200 yards on the ground - and average 5 yards per carry?

No concern?  The defense will eat USF alive.  And, when the Spartans can't move the ball, at least we have a GREAT punter in Sadler who can extend the field to make it difficult for the Bulls offense.

Prediction:  MSU 31, USF 10.  The MSU offense will score 2 TDs as will the defense.  Tack on a FG for MSU.  Give it at least another 7-8 punts for Sadler.

Monday, September 02, 2013

MSU favored by 23 (or 17 1/2, your choice) over woeful South Florida

After the Spartans woeful performance in its 26-13 victory over Western Michigan (see ES' post-game comments), the early line from Wynn Casino in Vegas has MSU as a 23-point favorite over South Florida. Another consensus from Vegas Insider has a more conservative 17 1/2 pt favorite for the Spartans. Notably, USF was hammered at home by FCS opponent McNeese State, 53-21, last weekend. After an 80 yard TD run early in the first quarter, USF managed only another 53 rushing yards the rest of the game on 20 carries; and McNeese scored the next 40 consecutive points.

Other early Big Ten lines:
  • Cincinnati by 10 1/2 at Illinois
  • Ohio State by 28 1/2 at home over San Diego State
  • Northwestern by 10 1/2 at home over Syracuse
  • Indiana by 12 at home over Navy
  • Nebraska by 28 1/2 at home over Southern Miss
  • Penn State by 25 at home over Eastern Michigan
  • Michigan by 3 at home over Notre Dame
  • Minnesota by 16 1/2 at New Mexico State
  • Tennessee Tech at Wisconsin (no line)
  • Missouri State at Iowa (no line)
  • Indiana State at Purdue (no line)

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Let's wake up. Start Damion Terry now or expect the Little Caesars Bowl. MSU needs risk.

ES is going to give the Doctor one more chance on offense.  We need a playmaker, especially without a dynamic running game. There really is only one option so far:  Damion Terry (see pic). It is time to start Terry for the present and the future. Considering the rather ho-hum performances of Andrew Maxwell and Connor Cook vs Western... well, let's throw this Terry punk into the fire.

As UM coach Brady Hoke said about sophomore Devin Gardner: "I'd rather have that quarterback with confidence to feed him all the time."

Gardner is good, not great; but he is far better than MSU QBs.  Dantonio needs to take the same philosophy and give that chance to Terry.  Screw the redshirt; we need action NOW.  Our defense is too good to let our offense piss away points.

Our defense ranks an A for its strength, our offense a D-minus for its weakness... now is the time to burn that redshirt and get some playmaking ability on offense BEFORE we hit the Big Ten season.

Play Terry. Now. Before it is too late.  THINK ABOUT IT.