The War Room:  Go Inside #13/15 Michigan State Football

I get a lot of nuggets and information that alone are not big enough for a story.  When I have a few that I can assemble together I will, and when I only have one or two I will post them on our Phalanx Forum board.  So welcome to The War Room.

  • On a bad day for the MSU OL, G Kevin Jarvis was the only OL to play every snap. We have preached his stardom since he was a recruit and he has done nothing to disappoint.  On Friday, the poor play of the OL overshadowed his dominance and football brilliance.
  • Days, before the season kicked off Mark Dantonio, made a telling comment. Not one for hyperbole the Spartan head man said, “I think we can perform at a high level on both sides of the ball.”
  • That statement alone should tell fans how high the ceiling is on this team and what his expectations are.
  • There were some players who had really outstanding games on Friday. Especially after the staff reviewed the film.  One of them was Khari Willis.  He had an interception, seven tackles, and three pass breakups.  He played out of his mind.  No doubt it was his best game so far.
  • Willis has really emerged as a leader prompting DE Kenny Willekes to say afterward, “He’s a guy that everyone looks up to, a guy that motivates us.”
  • The Spartans game with Utah State was closer than I thought. That will turn out to benefit them and I will discuss that more in my Scouting Report and Prediction for Arizona State.  But the fact that another one was a nail-biter, was not lost on Dantonio who said, “If you go back over the course of our program here, we’ve won a lot of close games, especially close games.”
  • Dantonio said after the game that, “We’re 1-0. Things could be a lot worse.” He is right.  He rolled the dice by staying vanilla and trusting his players to get it together.  That will pay off big down the road.
  • The Spartans taking over and winning that Utah State game says a lot about maturity. Cody White the WR said, “Nobody is fazed, there’s nothing like that. We’re all calm, we know what to do.  We’ve been there before. I think that’s one of the main keys that helped us down the stretch.”
  • The MSU OL led the Spartans to under 40-yards rushing in the first half and gave up three sacks and had Brian Lewerke running for his life on other occasions. After the half, the Spartans gave up no sacks and ran for nearly 130 yards.  As bad as they were in the first half they took a monster leap in the 2nd.
  • Tyler Higby said after, “We made an emphasis to run the ball and be gap-sound and do what we were talking about doing all week. We didn’t really do it in the first half. The second half, we kind of buckled down and did what we were supposed to do and I felt like it opened things up for us.”
  • MSU QB Brian Lewerke, for a player of his caliber and the expectations on him, made two egregious errors. In the 2nd quarter, he tried to toss the ball to LJ Scott. Utah State recovered. Secondly, he stared down a receiver and threw an interception that was a 40-yard pick six in the 3rd quarter.  His WR did slip, but he should have thrown the ball where and when he did.  That was on him.
  • Understand that MSU would not have won the game without Lewerke’s feet. He overcame his mistakes and I think he is going to play lights out this weekend because of it.
  • Felton Davis III (FD3) is a truly great player. You can see it, but when a player mesmerizes his teammates who watch him every day you know he is something.  Cody White said of FD3, “You can throw him the ball anywhere and he’s gonna come down with it. He’s been a mentor to me, is like a big brother and has been great for me.”
  • Of all of the MSU coaches and players after the game, I was most impressed by Dave Warner. The OC watched his guy’s put up 38 points.  While many complained of the play calling being run dominant while Utah State loaded the box that was not him.  That was his head coach wanting to run the ball according to two members of the football staff.  So that isn’t on him.
  • Despite that, Warner said afterward that, “We’re on the one-inch line, get a penalty and move back. We’re inside the 5 the other time, get a penalty and move back. You just can’t do that.”
  • Warner also said, “I’m disappointed in what our run game produced. You can maybe misinterpret the rushing (total) because those last couple plays, we ran some option right there, we got some big chunks right there. You take those plays out of it, when we’re trying to bang LJ (Scott) up in there, a little bit of Connor (Heyward) up in there, we didn’t get much movement. I’m not sure what our run average was there, we just didn’t have any consistency. So disappointed in that, absolutely.”
  • I like Warner, but his post-game really impressed me. He is not an emotional screamer, but according to several members of the program, this was his most, “Spirited” week of practice ever.
  • When the game was on the line Jon Reschke was in the game.
  • Spartan Nation reported that we expect him to be the starter by the start of the Big Ten conference, but no earlier than CMU.
  • He will get more reps this week vs. ASU.
  • MLB Joe Bachie was an animal in that game, but no matter who you are it is nearly impossible to game plan for a team that is as fast as USU. You may remember in the Cotton Bowl vs. Baylor MSU struggled early and adjusted.  MSU will be better later in the year for playing this game.  No one they face will move that fast so the Spartan will be ready.  Bachie said afterward that, “There was definitely fatigue throughout the game a little bit, and you know we prepared as hard as we could.”
  • Baylor ran a play about every 11-12 seconds and that was blazing fast. USU ran some as quick as seven seconds and almost all at nine or under.
  • DC Mike Tressel was telling all who would listen this week, “You always hope your biggest improvement is going to be from game one to game two.”
  • Spartan Nation recognizes that mantra as the golden rule of football thought up by Duffy Daugherty. That still echoes true today.
  • Connor Heyward is the #2 RB right now.  As of this moment that is not going to change.  But if he continues to play like he did, that could change…quick.  But only if Scott is running with an OL that is playing the same.  The 2nd half OL was considerably better, and that was unfair to Scott.
  • Heyward said, “The more you’re out there, the more comfortable you get. From the bowl game, throughout spring ball, I think I had everything down for the most part. Camp was just tweaking up some different things.”
  • Dantonio said of the battle, “I think Connor is our No. 2 tailback right now. He’s not bracketed as the No. 1. He’s a very good player. When he earns that opportunity, if he’s bracketed, that will be something we discuss at that time. Right now  (Emphasis added by Sparta Nation) LJ is our No. 1 tailback. We’ll ride that horse right now.”
  • Dantonio gave Scott the benefit of the doubt (rightfully so) saying, “Had too much pressure early in the game. I thought we did a better job protecting the quarterback, then running the football as the game progressed. I think Connor benefited from that.”
  • MSU OL Luke Campbell said of the USU game that, “I think there was a lot of room for improvement, but it’s the first game.” Campbell is a blue-collar player.  Don’t take his words lightly.  He has the fire of a Bullough and the work ethic of a horse.  He was not happy and all signs out of practice this week, was that he had, “A monster week.  That guy is on a mission.”
  • Recruiting for MSU seems slow, but I can assure you that with limited spots it isn’t. I am going to have multiple recruiting updates coming on Friday in my Football Q/A article.

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