Although No. 13/15 Michigan State’s 38-31season-opening win over Utah State didn’t exactly go how many expected, the game still went according to plan for the Spartans in some ways.
Some expected a larger margin of victory for the Spartans, but an important takeaway that the Michigan State coaching staff pulled from last Friday night was the fact that they weren’t forced to open up the playbook in order to secure the win.
With several bigger games on the horizon, including Saturday night’s game against Arizona State, the fact that the Spartans were able to use a relatively basic set of play calls, allows Michigan State to keep some of its bigger and better plays in its back pocket for down the road.
Spartan Nation was on hand when Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio addressed the media this week and Dantonio said that while the playbook is regularly evolving, it is good to keep parts of the playbook uncovered until it needs to be used later in the season.
“We’re always changing, every week, that’s why we work 80 hours a week,” he said. “You’re always changing and bringing new things forward from the playbook and things of that nature, so I would say I agree.”
Even after posting 38 points and over 450 yards of total offense, the Michigan State offense was still able to keep the deeper parts of its playbook under wraps after week one of the season.
Quarterbacks coach Brad Salem told reporters that he expects the game plan and the play book to expand as the season goes on, including Saturday night against the Sun Devils.
“Like every game you go into, you’re trying to win, so you’re going to have stuff in there that you need to,” he said. “You’re going to show some things first game, but obviously, it’s minimal plays with 75 and so you’ve got a lot of different things offensively. But each week, you grow your game plan and add different things you’ve been working on in the spring and through fall camp and just kind of growing through the process.”
From a defensive standpoint, the Spartans were less than perfect against the Aggies high-tempo offense, surrendering 31 points and 319 yards through the air.
Michigan State linebacker Joe Bachie said that while the Spartans were not pleased with how Utah State was able to sustain three long scoring drives against a defensive unit that is regarded as one of the best in the country, there were still positives to be taken from the final possession of the game.
“I think they (Utah State) were better and faster than we thought, which is on our part,” he said. “But they had a great game plan, they hit spots in our defense that were soft and they moved the ball on us, but obviously, we have to stay with it the whole game, stay with it and our offense bailed us out at the end of the game. We went down that sideline and I said we’re going to have a two minute opportunity and we did and we closed it out at the end of the game, so that was good to see.”
But even with a somewhat underwhelming performance from the defense, defensive tackle Raequan Williams reiterated that Michigan State didn’t need to utilize their full defensive playbook and to head to Arizona State with a 1-0 record is a good feeling for the Spartans.
“It feels very good,” he said. “We didn’t throw out a lot of stuff that we could have thrown in there, we played basic and we still got a dub, so that’s nice and it’s a good feeling.”
Remember to check back to Spartan Nation for all of the latest news on the 2018 Michigan State football team.
Want the latest breaking MSU news delivered straight to your email for FREE? Sign up for the DAILY Spartan Nation newsletter WHEN YOU CLICK RIGHT HERE! Don’t miss any of the latest up to the second updates on Michigan State Sports when you follow on Twitter @HondoCarpenter