Saturday, November 5, 2011

Thoughts on MSU's win vs. Minnesota

--Defense was uncharacteristically poor. MarQueis Gray's mobility was a bigger factor than any of the last three mobile QBs the Spartans faced. MSU didn't get great pressure, but Gray was about to get out of it when there was some.

Jerel Worthy had just two tackles, while William Gholston had 14. That's 29 in two games for Gholston. As Worthy said, that number of tackles for a lineman means he's either doing great at his job or trying to do other people's jobs. I think it's the former. I'm sure the line is excited to see a pocket passer next week at Iowa.

Darqueze Dennard was out with what sounded like some sort of concussion. Coaches said he could have played if it was an emergency. Tony Lippett played in his place. But it was Johnny Adams who was getting beat quite a bit. A rare off-day for him. The Spartans came into the game only giving up 127 passing yards per game, but Gray shredded them for 295. Iowa's James Vandenberg quietly has been very efficient this year and the secondary will have to play better.

--Kirk Cousins was solid. He had some bad decisions, but made quite a few NFL-type throws. He also showed a lot more emotion than we're used to, especially on his 15-yard penalty for spiking the ball after a false start penalty. He said earlier this week Nebraska turned their back on him and dared him to run, and he appeared to step up in the pocket more than usual Saturday. He finished with 296 yards passing and played better than he'll probably get credit for.

--Le'Veon Bell making his case as the No. 1 back. Edwin Baker fumbled on the opening play of a drive for the third time in four games. Suddenly he's having a hard time holding onto the ball. Bell finished with 96 yards on 15 carries and was solid again. If the O-Line isn't making holes, Bell does a good job of picked up three yards out of nothing. He's more elusive, while Baker tries to run over guys. The Spartans tried to get Baker back into the game in the second half, but I think you'll see Bell starting next week.

--Team battling through injuries. Travis Jackson and Larry Caper didn't play, both also with concussion-type injuries, and both also could have played, according to Dantonio. Chris Norman didn't play for the second straight week with a sprained shoulder. All should be good to go next week. Not sure if that was coachspeak or the coaches expected they wouldn't need them Saturday.

--Spartans control their own destiny. After Northwestern beat Nebraska in the battle for NU, the Spartans and Hawkeyes both control their own destiny now. A lot will be at stake next week.

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