Monday, November 30, 2009

Games 1 & 2 Recap

   The 2011 season has not started off how Sparty would have liked. No one had them beating #1 ND in South Bend, but the loss in the home opener to BYU was relatively shocking. Lets take a game by game look:

      MSU's offense looked like it could score on anyone, Nichol threw the ball all over the place to the tune of 5 Tds, but he also produced a couple of key turnovers that both lead to BYU scores. WR BJ Cunningham showed why he is considered to be one of the top playmakers in the Big Ten this year with 189 yards receiving and 3 Tds. The RB tandem of Edwin Baker and Ashton Leggett was effective when used, but the Spartans went away from the running game after getting down by a couple of scores late in the 3rd.


        The blame for this loss can be put on the shoulders of the defense. BYU QB Nelson had no problem completing pass after pass against the High School level secondary of the Spartans. BYU's HB also ran wild, easily getting passed the MSU front four and running through the secondary like a hot knife through butter. The lone bright spot on defense was the play of true freshman MLB Tony Hodge.

The ND Game:


    The Spartans traveled to South Bend with their tails between their legs after getting stunned at home by BYU, but they didn't play like it, at least to begin with. MSU's maligned defense stopped the Irish on their first possession, much to the surprise of both coaches. Some credit should go to backup FS Trenton Robinson who started at CB this week as he did all season last year and stepped up to make a number of big tackles. On MSU's first offensive play, Nichol hit BJ Cunningham for a 35 yard gain off play action. The drive stalled there and gave the Spartans a 3 point lead. ND Scored a TD off a short pass and a few broken tackles to go up 7-3 at the end of the 1st quarter, and they never looked back. Nichol was harassed all day, tossing three INTs to the Irish, one returned for a touchdown. RB Edwin Baker had another solid outing with 93 yards on 10 carries. If the Spartan defense can get off the field Baker may be the Spartans best weapon. Despite the loss, the defense showed some improvement and has Spartan fans reasonably excited for Big Ten season.

Friday, November 20, 2009

2011 Spartan Preview

 The 2010 Season:

     Green and white fans everywhere are glad to see the disastrous 2010 season finally come to an end. It was a season that saw first string QB Keith Nichol lost for the entire season due to injury when he was poised for a breakout year. It was a season that saw Nichol's two backups suffer injuries of their own and forced coaches to experiment with WR Fred Smith at QB. It was a season in which the Spartans did not record a Big Ten win until their 6th Big Ten game against Indiana. It was a season in which a late season coaching change significantly hampered the recruiting process, leading to a less than stellar recruiting class. It was a season to forget.

   The 2011 Season:

   The Spartans will try to shake their woes in the 2011 season, but it's not going to come easy. Senior QB Keith Nichol returns to lead the green and white, and if he can stay healthy, he may qualify for All-Conference honors. Senior WR B.J. Cunningham will finally get his shot in the spotlight after the departures of senior WRs Mark Dell and Blair White. Junior WR Fred Smith will get a chance to show what he can do along side Cunningham after playing much of last season at QB. At HB, Senior Ashton Leggett,  and juniors Edwin Baker and Larry Caper will all be competing for carries, and most likely all three will see playing time.
     On the defensive side of the ball there are still some concerns at cornerback. Last years struggles forced the Spartans to play safeties Marcus Hyde and Trenton Robinson at CB. This years incoming freshman will take over those spots, but if they struggle Robinson may re-enter his role from last season. The biggest loss is the departure of senior MLB Greg Jones. Jones was the leader of the defense for four years and one of the best players in the nation. Freshman MLB Tony Hodge will try to fill his shoes, but those are some large shoes to fill.

Season Outlook:
    The schedulers didn't do the Spartans any favors this season. After opening at home against BYU, the Spartans travel to South Bend for a meeting with #3 Notre Dame and coach DatnDaz. They also have games in Ann Arbor and Happy Valley, pitting the green and white against their three biggest foes away from home. A 3rd place finish in the Big Ten this season would have to be seen as a success, but once the season starts anything can happen.

Go Green!