With firepower of its own, Michigan State's OC says there's no pressure to outscore Ohio State
Behind a legitimate Heisman-level campaign from Kenneth Walker III and solid play from quarterback Payton Thorne, Michigan State has been one of the biggest surprises of the college football season.
The Spartans are 9-1 (6-1 in conference play) and in the thick of the College Football Playoff discussion. Saturday’s game against 9-1 (7-0 Big Ten) Ohio State will determine whether they stay there.
Defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton talked Tuesday about the performance it’ll take from the Spartan defense—he said he felt his guys were playing with a chip on their shoulder. Ohio State, No. 4 in the CFP rankings, has college football’s most prolific offense this season and the MSU defense will be tasked with trying to contain it as best it can.
The offense seems confident in the other side’s ability to do just that. Offensive coordinator Jay Johnson said Tuesday his group doesn’t feel like there’s pressure to outscore the Buckeyes.
MSU OC Jay Johnson says the offense doesn't feel pressure to outscore OSU.
— Matt Charboneau (@mattcharboneau) November 16, 2021
That could be confidence in their defense, confidence in the offense’s ability to just do what it does and play its game, or a little of both. Johnson went on to say Walker’s production helps in everything.
MSU OC Jay Johnson on RB Kenneth Walker III: “I thought he ran really well last week” vs. Maryland. “There at the end, he was very productive.”
— Chris Solari (@chrissolari) November 16, 2021
Johnson says the flea flickers are simply another play action call but thinks attention on Kenneth Walker III helps in their success.
— Matt Wenzel (@mwenzel2) November 16, 2021
While the Spartans are thinking about how to slow down the Buckeyes, Ohio State is no doubt thinking about how to stop Walker. The 1st-year Spartan leads the country in rushing yards (1,473) and rushing touchdowns (17). He’s on pace to put up the best rushing season by a Spartan tailback since Le’Veon Bell’s monstrous 2012 campaign. But where Bell averaged just 4.7 yards a carry that season, Walker is averaging 6.5 this year.
The Spartans and Buckeyes square off at noon ET on ABC Saturday.