The War Room:  Go Inside #25 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.

  • WR Cody White pretty much took on the Spartans red zone issues saying after the loss to ASU, “We need to be able to convert more on third downs, be able to close out games more. When we get in the red zone, we got to score as much as we can.”
  • I never understood (and wrote/said so) the Tyler Higby to center experiment. They had Allen and Higby was solid at G.  They were sold it was good early in camp so we had no reason to doubt them.  That is not the case.  I do not grasp some of the “experiments” they have done on the OL.
  • Dantonio addressed the Higby vs. Matt Allen battle at center saying, “You know we try to make Tyler center. Want to always try and play our best five, but with that being said, it’s difficult sometimes to transition to the center box, and you saw him — you saw a couple times what happened to him. Things got disrupted, and when you can’t control the center box, if you can’t control the nose with the center box, it’s difficult to run the ball. Especially if you’re running things where a guard or somebody is pulling, and there’s disruption, and you saw that happen…I thought Matt played better. He was more firm in there. He’s been a center longer. So you know, we certainly have to try and figure that out as we go and that’s one of the things we figure out in the next couple weeks here…But it’s not from a lack of trying or lack of a will, but he’s snapping the ball and he’s probably not stepping — when you catch on a zero knows who is coming out of his stance that I think knew the snap count and anticipated it, got off on the ball, things become a little more difficult. So we need to vary the snap count in that situation.”
  • California Oaks Christian linebacker Joshua Calvert will be in East Lansing on his official visit for the CMU game. Spartans are in a head to head battle with UCLA.  His brother plays for UCLA and obviously, UCLA is closer to home.  The Spartans are NOT out of it, but they are not the front-runner.
  • The red zone offense has been terrible. But the offense against ASU was terrible in nearly (not all) every aspect.
  • I asked one current college coach and one NFL executive on Monday to give me their analysis of the Spartans. They spoke anonymously as you can imagine, but truthfully.
  • #1 (College Coach): “When teams are stopping your run game, either because of loading the box or an inefficient line, why ask your QB to wait to pass on routes that don’t even break until intermediate or long depth?  Do they not have bubbles, slants or quick digs?  That isn’t on the QB that is all on coaching.  They must do something about fixing that passing attack.  They have the weapons to throw and that will help the running game, but they are stubborn to do it their way, even if they don’t win.  How can they not use the TE’s?  I saw your question about tight ends to Dantonio.  When a route doesn’t even break until ten yards with that line that is on coaching.  Tight ends are critical in a passing attack and at MSU now, they are not even utilized.  The QB has to get the ball out faster. ”
  • #2 (NFL Executive): “The first thing I thought about was the New England Patriots.  When was the last time they had a good line?  They don’t.  It’s OK, but not great at all.  They throw a lot of short stuff, that helps them run and then they can take their shots.  I look at that big wide (Felton Davis) and the other wides including Sheldon’s kid (Cody White) and they have talent.  Sheldon White comes from the NFL.  Are you telling me he can only look at recruits?  Put him down with your OC and let him educate.  No excuse for that offense to be what they were in Arizona.  You have to throw the ball faster to force some changes to the defense.  When you can’t run, first down passing is open for a quick hitch, but second and longs make life hell.  I know for a fact Herm (Edwards) was really concerned about the Spartan option attack.  They (ASU) spent a lot of time working on it in practice.  MSU helped them by not using it at all.  At all?  Are you kidding me?  You are not Navy, but come on, it gets you out in space and you have proven it successful.”
  • Dantonio isn’t content. That is not a bad thing.  He is resolute and he will fix this.
  • Dantonio said of the ASU game, “Difference between happiness and unhappiness I guess you could say, so you look at the football game, inability to score in the red zone creeps up on us again.”
  • I wrote a lot about Dantonio’s mantra to score points in the pre-season. He bemoaned one getting away when he said, “It’s tough to win a game with 13 points. It’s tough to win a game when scoring 16 points.”
  • If MSU turns the season around and I suspect that based on their track record, this 16-13 loss will be the catalyst.
  • I have had a close eye on Dantonio after this loss. I have made no secret of my thoughts and support for him.  If anyone can fix it, it is him.  I trust him.  He has done too much to not be trusted.  He isn’t making excuses.
  • “That football team hung around, instead of being 20-3 or something like that, it’s 13-3 and inevitably somebody is going to make a play. I think a little bit of that happened. Need to play better in certain situations.” Didn’t throw his team under the bus, but he isn’t backing down and blaming others.
  • I thought Dantonio said one thing this week that got little or no attention, but to me was his deepest statement. “I think, you know, when you have these type of situations and we’ve been in them before, they can go one direction: Either people get pulled apart or people get brought together, and it’s my feeling that things like this forge — you’re working together, forges unity, solidarity, perseverance and probably the most important thing, it forges action which, we need to take action.”
  • He is 100% correct. If MSU stays together and learns like the loss at Northwestern last year, this season can and should be special.  I like his resolve.
  • Jack Camper looks the part at DE. MSU got pressure in Arizona, but this kid looks super.
  • Kevin Jarvis remains a force on the MSU OL. When people bemoan OL play, don’t lump him in.
  • I know for a fact there were people in the program that felt Cole Chewins shouldn’t have played vs. ASU. It was a bit of a panic move in my opinion.  He would have benefited greatly to have sat out and got this bye week as well.  Instead, he got hurt early in Arizona.  It was not a good move.
  • I can tell you it was a late decision to play him. As of Thursday, the conventional wisdom was that he would not.
  • The ball that was thrown high by Brian Lewerke that hit the hands of Matt Dotson and was intercepted was a huge factor in the loss.
  • That said, the ball hit Dotson in the hands. If it hits the skin, you got to bring it in.  Could the ball have been better?  Yes, but it hit both hands, that was on Matt.
  • That said, Dotson is young and has been underutilized. It hasn’t shaken my faith in him at all.  Going to be a great player, they have to utilize him and get him reps.

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