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Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Each Tuesday we discuss Spartan Football. 
{These questions were posed to our contributors prior to today's press conference.}

Question #1
People are criticizing Dantonio's approach to the quarterback "competition" or "decision". The offense isn't working, but other approaches could have produced even more controversy. What is your opinion on his approach to this point? Is it time for a new approach?

MSUSpartan76 (Follow him on M-Live)
Yes and no. The quarterback competition is not succeeding and it is taking on a risk of not allowing the offense to come together. The quarterback position is not the problem, never was. The dysfunctional offense came from a failure of the team, not an individual.

The new approach is the old approach. Pick one of those kids and go with it. Get back to smash-mouth football. Don't worry about making big plays, worry about making first downs. A 5 yard pass is the same amount of progress down the field as a 5 yard run. Get those going and the big plays will come on their own.

We have not reached the point where a last great act of desperation is needed. What a lot of those critical people are calling for amounts to nothing less. I trust the coaching staff to make sure that the "cure is worse than the disease" does NOT happen.

ATownAndDown (Follow him on M-Live)
I am not a fan of the way Coach D has approached the quarterback situation. I had zero issues up until the season started. I liked them going live and the constant competition. But there is absolutely no rhyme or reason to the QB shuffle we are seeing. I thought we would see Maxwell, Cook and O'Connor in the first two games and then we would see the race take shape through those games and then YSU would be test run of what we are running with. Coach D might very well have treated those first two games as preseason games where he wanted to see different guys in different situations. I can't make heads or tails of it but I guess I am not supposed to. It very well could be that he is looking for something and hasn't seen any of the guys show it yet too. If there is no semblance of an actual plan/rotation against YSU, then I fear for how ugly it could get against ND.

Question #2
Would you characterize MSU's difficulties moving the football a "quarterback problem" or an "offense problem"?

ATownAndDown (Follow him on M-Live)
The MSU problems are completely the entire offense and not just the QB's. And it starts with the guys up in the booth. Our game plan looks non-existent. Spartan football has been premised on running the ball and setting up the pass. We struggle in games where we can't get defenses to look run first. One of last year's biggest issues was defenses were focused on the run but our OLine couldn't protect well enough for the play-action pass to work. This year we have come out throwing the ball. Against USF our RB's averaged almost 6 YPC but they only carried the ball 6 times in the first half. The RB's, while not overwhelming, have been solid. We would have freaked out if Bell did not get his carries last year but this year not only are the RB's not getting the carries they should but we are not trying to establish the run early. This could be another sign that the coaches are treating these first games as scrimmages and not tipping their hand on what ND can expect. On the other hand, they could be flailing and hoping to see something work. Either way, the play calling needs to get organized, QB have to get the right plays in and make the right reads, RB's have to keep up their production when they get their shots, and WR's have to catch the ball and make plays with the ball in their hands.

MSUSpartan76 (Follow him on M-Live)
Neither and both. The quarterback is part of the offense and the offense is not scoring points. But in reality it is a team problem. The offense should not lean on the defense. The offense should not lean on special teams. The offense should carry its wieght and not grow dependent on anything but itself. Unfortunately, the offense is headed towards an addiction to watching the defense score the winning points.

The offense and special teams have been winning the field position battle in a big way. This has put the defense in the position where they can be more aggressive and make those big plays (and score defensive TDs). This is a positive worth noting.

The coaches need to adapt their play calling to keep drives alive. On 3rd & 5, calling a buttonhook route 2 yards short of the marker does not acknowledge that receivers are not up to getting those extra 2 yards, yet. Call a pattern that lets the receiver catch the ball for a first down before he tries to get extra yards. First 2 drives in the WMU game stalled for just exactly that play call.

The real problem is not the quarterback or the talent and experience of the receivers or the tight end and running back transitions. The problem is not physical at all. It is psychological. They are putting too much pressure on themselves, a lot of it self-imposed by the kids themselves, and they are just thinking too much. There is no evidence of kidding around or joking on the sidelines. They need to have some kind of comic relief. Maybe the solution is just simply to have someone spend the last couple of minutes before they hit the tunnel telling a joke. Get them to laugh and relax a bit. Those receivers can catch the ball. They can get separation. They can make big plays. But they are trying to "prove" something and they have put too much pressure on themselves and are over-thinking every move. That is handicapping them. They need to just go out and have fun playing ball.

Rather than bearing down even more, they simply need to lighten up. To quote Denicos Allen: "Why not go out there and keep having fun?" Coaches and players. Fans, too.

A lot of this comes from not knowing how to deal with such lofty expectations that back-to-back 11-win seasons created. If this were a Bobby Williams or a John L. Smith team, would we, the fans, have such angst? 7-6 would have been a good season back in 2006.

Question #3
What primary program and/or season considerations do you hope Dantonio values most with regard to handling the quarterbacks in the final "tune-up" game before South Bend and the B1G?

MSUSpartan76 (Follow him on M-Live)
I hope Coach Dantonio has a plan to successfully transition a new QB into 2014. I hope this season, not just the tune-up game is geared towards that. It is conceivable that we have to sacrifice this season for the sake of the next 3 or 4 (future) seasons and if that is the case, so be it.

ATownAndDown (Follow him on M-Live)
It is my hope that Coach D values winning games now. I am all about planning for MSU's future but putting Terry out on the field because "it will be good for MSU's future" or not playing Maxwell "because he isn't a long term solution" is laughable to me. As bad as the first 2 games have looked, we are still undefeated. I don't care who is under center as long as they give us the best chance to win football games. If you start playing for next year that means you have given up on this year. I will never get on board with giving up on this season. Given the schedule and the equality of talent in the division, things can happen even if you lose a game. Winning is the most important stat of all.

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1 comment:

  1. My Comments from M-Live:

    I have always tried to look for the positive rationale for a positive Spartan outcome. In reality, this offensive coaching staff has lost my trust. They took one of the nation's worst offenses from 2012 and managed to make it even worse. My concern for Terry is that they are going to plug him into that mess and shrink the playbook to an even more predictable (and when they do the unpredictable - it's ineffective) piece of garbage than it already is. Is there a chance he could somehow be this magical savior who can produce with this offense - with half the playbook and none of the experience and completely new to the defenses he will see when he approaches the line of scrimmage? Yes - I guess. But the odds are that the mistakes will outweigh the bland stuff we will see and the increase in mistakes that are inevitable. After saying all of that, I am for playing Terry. What else can they do? The staff certainly does not have the answers. May as well see if an 18 year old can solve the problem. Go Terry go. May KeithKZ's (an M-Live reader who has been calling for Terry since this summer) dreams come true. If MSU ends up 6-6, 7-5, 5-7 or whatever, MD needs to clean house on that side of the ball. Go Terry go!


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