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MSU delivers defensive smackdown, wins for 5th time in 6 years

Here’s all you needed to see. Late third quarter, darkness falling, Michigan State’s Connor Cook threw an interception.

“Finally, a break!” Michigan fans screamed. U-M took over inside MSU territory. The traditional drama was about to begin, right?

Uh-uh. Quarterback Devin Gardner tried to run; he was swarmed by Spartans, loss of 5. Gardner tried to pass; he was yanked down by linebacker Denicos Allen, loss of 9. He tried to throw — and was sacked again, by Allen and Ed Davis, loss of 7.

Three plays, minus-21 yards.

So it’s official. Michigan State is where the Michigan offense comes to die. In their past six meetings, the Wolverines have puffed, coughed and gasped for points, 21, 20, 17, 14, 12 and, on Saturday, a measly six. Six points? With that offense? After a bye week?

It was this rivalry’s most snuffing defeat in years, a game in which MSU put Gardner on his butt so many times, you could have called him “Divot.”

“When you look at things statistically, it’s pretty one-sided,” MSU coach Mark Dantonio admitted after the 29-6 beatdown, his fifth victory in his past six tries against the Wolverines. “That’s the way we like ’em.”

Throwdown. Six points allowed? Seven sacks? That wasn’t a victory, it was the Spartans stomping wine from maize-and-blue grapes. How about this number? The Wolverines were averaging 184 yards rushing.

They finished Saturday with minus-48.

That is not a typo. Minus-48! Taylor Lewan said this past week that it was no fun for the Wolverines to be bullied.

Maybe they should stop coming here.

Spartans believe in QB Cook

Because Lewan and his offensive linemates were no match for the MSU front seven, and poor Gardner could not release the ball fast enough — or find enough open receivers — to mount any threat. By the end, you felt sorry for him. Fugitives are less hunted.

“I was watching on the Jumbotron,” said Connor Cook, the opposing quarterback, “and pretty much all I saw was (the MSU defense) in the backfield.”

That sums it up. The Spartans’ offense, meanwhile, did more than enough to win. Cook (18-for-33, 252 yards, one TD) did a fine job of directing some long touchdown drives, 68, 75 and 97 yards. This sophomore is growing up nicely. He has decent touch, a good field sense, a resilient nature and a noticeable lack of panic for a new starter who began the year needing a map to find the end zone.

Clearly the team rallies behind him. After his one mistake, the MSU defense pushed the Wolverines back so hard, if there were stairs they’d have tumbled down them. “We can come off a turnover, whatever,” Allen said. “It just gives us more opportunity to show why we’re the No. 1 defense in the nation.”

After that, the game got out of hand, going from 16-6 to 29-6 in a green flash. Jeremy Langford ripped off a 40-yard touchdown run, and all Brady Hoke’s crew could do was start the buses. They couldn’t get on I-96 fast enough.

OSU showdown looms - for MSU

Throwdown. This was a total Spartans thrashing. Allen claimed it was more dominant than the nasty victory two years ago. “It was a lot worse today,” he said. “And I think they felt it.” The MSU fans were yelling “Little Sister!” all fourth quarter. But U-M has bigger worries than meanies in the stands. The Wolverines, now 6-2 and 2-2 in the Big Ten, couldn’t run all day. They were swallowed coming out of the backfield. For a rushing-proud program, that’s like Sinatra stepping to the microphone and squealing.

The Wolverines have little to play for now but pride. They almost certainly will not win the Legends Division or reach the Big Ten title game, rendering the Ohio State showdown a mere measuring stick. And seeing how the Spartans’ measuring stick just whacked their butts, you almost cringe at the thought.

Meanwhile, the Spartans (8-1, 5-0) have grown so dominant defensively, it’s stunning. No touchdowns allowed in three weeks? No touchdowns allowed to Michigan since 2011? You hate the fact that one avoidable Notre Dame loss keeps them from a perfect record. And you wonder what this defense could do to higher-ranked teams in the country.

Don’t worry. If they keep it up, the Spartans will get a chance to show it in the Big Ten championship game Dec. 7. Who would have thought that Michigan’s best chance of seeing Ohio State go down might be watching Michigan State do it?

What’s green and white and red all over? The Spartans pounding their chests after this bloodbath. That, football fans, was harsh.

(Source: freep.com)

Filed under Michigan State Michigan State Spartans Spartans MSU UM Michigan MIchigan Wolverines Wolverines College Football Football Connor Cook Devin Gardner Denicos Allen Ed Davis Mark Dantonio Taylor Lewan Jeremy Langford Brady Hoke Ohio State Ohio State Buckeyes Big Ten Championship Legends Buckeyes OSU

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Michigan State Football: 5 Realistic Predictions for the Spartans' 2013 Season

1. So. WR Aaron Burbridge Finishes with at Least 500 Receiving Yards and 4 Touchdowns

2. Michigan State Will Rank Better Than No. 20 in Scoring and Total Defense

3. Jr. WR/CB/RB Jeremy Langford Will Be the Spartans’ Starting Running Back Come August

4. Andrew Maxwell Will Throw at Least 15 Touchdown Passes and Less Than 8 Picks

5. The Spartans Will Win 8 Games and Finish Above .500 in the Big Ten 

Filed under Michigan State Spartans College Football Aaron Burbridge Jeremy Langford Andrew Maxwell

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This was the hardest decision of my life. It’s difficult to leave my teammates and coaches as well as Spartan Nation, … but I couldn’t pass on pursuing my dream and the opportunity to change my mom’s life. I would’ve have written a better script for my final game in a Spartan uniform, coming back from a 13-0 deficit to win in the final minute. I ran the ball well against a great TCU defense, but the most important thing was getting the W. … It was exciting to celebrate with my teammates one last time and leave on that note. Although I’m leaving, Michigan State still has some capable running backs returning, in Nick Hill and Jeremy Langford. … Those guys will be running behind a talented and experienced offensive line. … Nick and Jeremy are both tough, talents athletes and their time is now.

Le’Veon Bell (Michigan State Junior Running Back) after deciding to forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft

Found on @MSU_Football Twitter

Filed under Le'Veon Bell Michigan State Spartans College Football Nick Hill Jeremy Langford NFL NFL Draft

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What MSU Fans Need to Watch During Spring Game

1. Passing Game
The quarterback (Andrew Maxwell vs Connor Cook) and wide receiver (Tony Lippett vs Bennie Fowler vs Keith Mumphery vs DeAnthony Arnett) positions are up for grabs, along with some tight end spots (Dion Sims vs Evan Jones vs Josiah Price. 

2. Offensive Line
As mentioned before, the offensive line should be stable this coming season. Most of the men return for another year, and each position is packed with talented backups. 

3. Running Game
Last season the running game was not very effective due to very few veterans on the offensive line. Now that the linemen have more experience, expect the running backs to carry the ball more often. LeVeon Bell had an excellent season last year with carries split between Edwin Baker and Larry Caper. Baker declaring early to the NFL will give Bell the bulk of the carries this coming season. Bell may have the nod, but the players below him could easily change that. Caper is due for some playing time along with fellow running backs Nick Hill and Jeremy Langford. All of these players will be fun to watch when the spring game begins.  

4. Defense
The whole defense will be something to watch this spring. After ranking in the top 20 in seven statistical categories and being the top defense in the Big Ten, this group is nothing but dominant. A majority of the defense returns this season, but there are some key spots that need replacing. The most critical area that needs to be addressed is the defensive tackle position (after Jerel Worthy declared himself for the NFL draft). 

5. Special Teams (Punt Return) 
The coaches are hoping Nick Hill will be the guy to replace Keshawn Martin. He has great field vision and releases quickly. He averaged 26.3 yards per gain on kick returns he attempted along with five punts returned last year. The most notable loss for MSU is the do-it-all receiver and punt returner Keshawn Martin. 

Filed under Michigan State Spartans College Football Andrew Maxwell Connor Cook Tony Lippett Bennie Fowler Keith Mumphery DeAnthony Arnett Dion Sims Josiah Price Le'Veon Bell Larry Caper Edwin Baker NFL Nick Hill Jeremy Langford Big Ten Jerel Worthy Keshawn Martin

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MSU Spring Football. Defense Wins the First Battle.

sportsfromaspartan:

EAST LANSING, Mich. –

 Under overcast skies and temperatures in the low-50s, fifth-year Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio sent his team through a 115-play “controlled” scrimmage in Spartan Stadium on Friday, April 8, as the Spartans completed their sixth of 15 allotted spring practices. Utilizing a modified scoring system, the defense claimed the Green (home) jerseys by winning the first spring scrimmage, 55-45.

The scrimmage format provided the defense with 18 different scoring opportunities, while the offense had 11 ways to put points on the scoreboard, including the traditional touchdown and field goal.

The Spartan first- and second-team defense dominated the early action, as the offense failed to record a first down on its first five series of the 2-hour scrimmage. The defense came up with stops on the first 13 possessions en route to building a commanding 48-29 lead, while recording three sacks, two interceptions and four quarterback pressures.

“The defense played well – tackled effectively, pressured the quarterback and came away with some turnovers,” Dantonio said. “The defense gave up only two touchdowns this afternoon and both came while playing in the red zone. We ran 115 plays this afternoon, so really it was a light day for us. 

“When standing here watching the scrimmage, you never feel like you’re winning because you’re rooting for both sides to do well. There were very few penalties in the scrimmage and that’s a positive. Offensively, we had some dropped passes that killed drives, and we simply can’t have that happen. We also have a number of young guys playing along the offensive line, so if there’s a breakdown up there, things simply don’t work.”

Defensive ends Tyler Hoover (6-7, 274, Jr.) and William Gholston (6-7, 265, So.) combined to record nine tackles, including three for losses (7 yards). Hoover registered five tackles, with two resulting in losses including a 5-yard sack, while Gholston contributed four stops, including one for a loss, and a pass break-up. Linebacker Max Bullough (6-3, 240, So.) also posted five tackles for the first-team defense.

“The front seven played well,” Dantonio said. “At 6-7, 265-270 pounds, both Tyler Hoover and William Gholston can be very good defensive ends. Tyler has been in the program for four years, so he has a good understanding of our system. William has a lot of talent, and he’s really benefitted greatly by playing last season as a true freshman.”

The offense staged a late rally, scoring 10 points on back-to-back possessions during the “red zone” period and adding a touchdown in the “goal-line” period.

The first series of the “red zone” period resulted in a 41-yard field goal by back-up placekicker Kevin Muma (6-0, 189, So.). On the next possession with the first team facing a second-and-13, Edwin Baker (5-9, 208, Jr.) scored on a 22-yard run up the middle. On the first snap of the “goal-line” period, Le’Veon Bell (6-2, 237, So.) raced 6 yards around left end for a TD, utilizing a stiff-arm to break cornerback Johnny Adams’ (5-11, 170, Jr.) attempted tackle.

Baker and Bell, who shared split snaps with the first team, combined to rush 14 times for 50 yards and two scores. Nick Hill (5-7, 182, R-Fr.) paced the second team with eight carries for 36 yards, while Jeremy Langford (5-11, 199, R-Fr.) added 25 yards on seven attempts.

“When the offense got the ball in the red zone, it scored,” Dantonio said. “Edwin Baker had a big run up the middle for a score and Le’Veon Bell had a nice TD run. Both Nick Hill and Jeremy Langford ran pretty well with the twos, so that’s very encouraging.”  

Veteran quarterback Kirk Cousins (6-3, 202, Sr.-5), who was victimized by three dropped passes, completed 6-of-16 tosses for 41 yards and an interception, while back-up Andrew Maxwell (6-3, 208, So.) connected on 15-of-26 throws for 118 yards and an interception.

On his third series, Maxwell managed a 16-play, 76-yard drive that started at the Green 3. He opened the drive by completing his first seven passes for 79 yards, including a 43-yard bomb to Keith Mumphery (6-0, 205, R-Fr.). Facing a third-and-10 from the White 21, Maxwell was intercepted by linebacker TyQuan Hammock (6-0, 227, So.).

“Andrew Maxwell did a nice job managing a 16-play drive by the twos, coming off the 3-yard line,” Dantonio said, “but unfortunately, it ended in a turnover.”

Twelve different receivers caught at least one pass, including Chris D. Rucker (5-9, 175, Sr.-5), who had a scrimmage-best four receptions for 26 yards. Tony Lippett (6-2, 185, R-Fr.) had three catches for 15 yards, while Mumphery and Keshawn Martin (5-11, 185, Sr.) each caught two passes for 49 and 24 yards, respectively.

The Spartans have four practices scheduled for next week: Tuesday, April 12; Thursday, April 14; Friday, April 15; and the second jersey scrimmage on Saturday, April 16.

“We’re really pleased with where the team is after two weeks of spring practice,” Dantonio said. “The players have a great attitude and guys are providing great leadership. We’re getting a lot of work done every single day. We’ve had a limited number of injuries thus far and that’s another positive.”

Michigan State concludes its 15 spring practices with the Green-White intrasquad game on Saturday, April 30 at 1:30 p.m. EDT in Spartan Stadium. Parking is free (in Lots T-79, S-56, P-39/40 and Ramp 5), and the stadium gates (Gates B, C, J and K) open at 12 p.m. Admission is free.

MSU’s spring game will be streamed live on www.bigtennetwork.com and replayed Saturday, April 30 at 8 p.m. EDT on the Big Ten Network, with Will Tieman and Jason Strayhorn calling the action.

I am really excited about how well our defense played. We only have 6 returning starters on our defense, so that puts my worries slightly at ease. 

I am very worried about Kirk Cousins passing efficiency percentage at 37.5%. If the 3 passes weren’t dropped it would’ve been at 56%. Last year he ended the season at 66.68%. But maybe they ran more rushing plays than passing plays. I guess I’ll just have to wait until the spring game to really make a decision.

I am also wondering why B.J. Cunningham didn’t have any catches. Did he not play? Is his broken ankle still an issue? < That wasn’t mentioned in the spring depth chart injury list. 

I am really excited to go to the spring game! I haven’t been to one since I moved to East Lansing. I will definitely take pictures and post about it afterwards.

Filed under Michigan State Spartans College Football Mark Dantonio Spartan Stadium Tyler Hoover William Gholston Max Bullough Kevin Muma Edwin Baker Le'Veon Bell Johnny Adams Nick Hill Jeremy Langford Kirk Cousins Andrew Maxwell Keith Mumphery TyQuan Hammock Chris D. Rucker Tony Lippett Keshawn Martin B.J. Cunningham