Michigan State football: Grading the Spartans are win over Western Michigan
Just when we were starting to wonder if Michigan State’s offense was going to be more of the same this year, the Spartans blew up Saturday night and put on a show. They rolled past Western Michigan 51-14 and scored practically at will all night long.
It was win No. 109 at Michigan State for coach Mark Dantonio, tying him with the great Duffy Daugherty for the most wins in school history. Dantonio had to be thrilled with the way win No 109 came, with a great team effort and an offense that was humming along all night long.
Here’s what I liked — and didn’t like — about the Spartans’ win over Western Michigan:
What I liked
1. An offense that was clicking — finally
We have been very critical of the Michigan State offense the past couple of years, so it was very encouraging the seem them roll up a whopping 582 yards Saturday night against Western Michigan. Senior quarterback Brian Lewerke had a great night throwing the ball — 23 of 32 for 314 yards and three scores — and he did a great job of leading this team and getting them in and out of all the right plays. It’s something we’ve been waiting a long time for, quite frankly, and it was a pleasure to watch, especially early. “Well I think it catapulted us, or sparked us, or however you want to say it,” Dantonio said of the fast start. “We had a couple big plays early and get down in there. We had a big run early, if I remember too, so all those types of things I think started to energize us a little bit and gives you some confidence, and they maintained that.”
2. Hello there, Elijah Collins
This had the be the most enjoyable part of the night for me, because the Spartans have been waiting a long time to dominate a game with the run. Collins did exactly that, rushing 17 times for 192 yards and electrifying the crowd with a 58-yard run. The redshirt freshman from Detroit had carried the ball a grand total of 10 times for 25 yards in his career at East Lansing, twice in mop duty in the final game last year against Rutgers, and 8 times for only 17 yards in the opener. Saturday night was huge, and it looks like a star is born. This gives Spartans fans a lot of hope. “He busted some runs and got to the second level and hit it. You can see his speed,” Dantonio said.
3. Defending the run great …
Michigan State’s defense has developed that reputation that they will always stop the run first. They did it again against Western Michigan, allowing only 67 yards on 27 carries, a 2.5-yard average. After holding Tulsa to minus-73 yards rushing last week, that means the Spartans are still BELOW ZERO after two games, which is amazing.
What I didn’t like
1. … but allowing too many yards in the air
It was a little disheartening to see Western Michigan have so much success in the air against the Spartans, even it a blowout win. Western quarterbacks Joe Wassink and Griffin Alstott combined to throw for 285 yards and two scores. That’s too much. The Spartans knew they were going to throw the ball a lot, and they did a good job of taking away the deep ball.
2. Turnovers still an issue
Michigan State had a lost fumble and a Brian Lewerke interception. Two turnovers a game is too many, and that needs to get cleaned up. I won’t harp on it in a blowout win, but I did notice. Fix it, please.