As #24 Michigan State prepares to open Big Ten play on Saturday night in Bloomington against Indiana, the Spartan defense should be plenty prepared for the Hoosiers’ spread offense as this will be the third straight game the Spartans have faced a fast-paced offense capable of lighting up the scoreboard.
Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio met with the media earlier this week and discussed the challenges that the Hoosiers present, and noted that there are similarities that can be drawn between different spread offenses, which the Spartans will see once again on Saturday night.
“Yeah, I think against all these teams you have to be able to play up-tempo offense and be able to stop the run and be able to play against the controlled passing game, and then be able to play the deep ball down the field because most of the teams right now that you see are vertical attack teams,” he said. “They attack you vertically I think off the play-action or off the RPO-type things, or intermediate or short.”
After surrendering 31 points in the season opener against Utah State, the Michigan State defense allowed just 16 points in its week two loss to Arizona State. The Spartans have struggled against the pass through two weeks, allowing 349.5 yards per game through the air, which ranked 125th in the nation.
In recent years, Michigan State has had its fair share of close battles against the Hoosiers, including last year’s 17-9 win in East Lansing and Indiana’s 24-21 win in 2016 in Bloomington.
Dantonio said that with a handful of close contests against Indiana throughout his time at Michigan State, he expects Saturday night to again be a tight game once again.
“I think IU has played us very well,” he said. “They expect to play us very well again. It’s always been a close football game, you know, really, throughout time, really, even when there’s been a couple of occasions where we’ve sort of distanced ourselves, it’s been at the end of the game. What kind of things have they done? What I said before, they have run some trick plays where they hit us in the past and jumped out 17-0 I think (in 2012), I don’t know, way back. You know, hit a couple plays on us and we had to come back on them. It’s always been a great football game and a great football game to watch and they have always been a great challenge for us.”
Considering the recent history between the two teams, Dantonio said that he has a good idea of what to expect from the Hoosiers on Saturday night, including several trick, plays sprinkled in throughout the game.
“What you see in a game early is what you tend to see throughout the game,” he said. “IU will bring at you a number of trick plays; they always have in the past, and they have been successful. So we’ve got to go back and look at all of those and practice all of those and be on our toes in every respect for guys that are going to throw the ball, looking at who is the quarterbacks on their roster. They have a backup tight end who has played quarterback; all these different types of things. Hopefully, we’ll talk them out of that one (smiling).”
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