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Wednesday, September 4, 2013


This week's FRONT-BURNER Questions:
Heading into 2013, we generally emphasized the positives on this site, but on Friday night, we saw what the doubters predicted play-out almost exactly to their script.
After Game One:
  • What was most disturbing?
  • Where is the silver lining?
  • How have you adjusted your expectations of specific aspects of the 2013 team, scheme, staff or general results?

SpartanMan82 (See all of his posts here)
The most disturbing thing about that game was to see our receivers dropping so many passes. It was especially bad to see a senior drop three. I thought the receivers would have come together as a group and resolve to not let that happen again. Fowler should be benched for his three drops and Burbridge should be benched for his key drop and needless personal foul. And by "benched", I don't mean "demoted to second string"; I mean they should both sit and watch the entire game from the bench.

The silver lining is that one of our quarterbacks must have done better than anybody seems to think right now. The five to seven drops should be added back to either Maxwell or Cook to re-calculate their stats. If the drops were evenly divided, both guys were a little better than reported. If most or all of the drops came on passes from only one of those two guys, then that guy had a great game.

I'm holding off on any revised expectations until we can see a couple of more games. We should know much more after this weekend, and even more after three games. The road trip to South Bend will be a major checkpoint on the rest of the season. We all just have to remain calm until we get more information.

ATownAndDown (Follow A-Town on M-Live)
The most disturbing thing I saw was the offense. It was not what we have come to expect from an MSU offense. If you asked me what a Mark Dantonio offense would look like, I would have said it would need a QB that can complete at least 60-65% of his passes because we are going to pound the ball with a physical running game and when we pass it has to be with a high efficiency. But instead of coming out and pounding the rock, we opened with 10 passes in our first 15 plays. We threw the football more times in the first 3 quarters than we ran the ball. The worst thing about it was the run game was working. Taking away the 2 kneel downs, MSU averaged over 4.6 yards per carry (that is a better average than all but 3 games last year). Was this the coaches wanting the show off what the passing game could do and it backfired? Was this Warner and Bollman venturing off on their own and getting away from what MSU football has been? Was it just coincidence because of the situations we were in? I guess we will see going forward but I think that pushing the running game can only help the passing game.

The silver lining for me is our defense. The defense is still amazing. The defensive line was aggressive and got tons of pressure on the WMU QB and set up big mistakes. Narduzzi looks to be on top of his game being able to coach up a defense despite not having a lot of film on what they were going to see. His halftime adjustments were superb also. And the best part of all is things didn't go perfect, so Narduzzi is going to have a laundry list of things these guys are going to have to work on going forward. This defense will keep us in every game.

My expectations for this team have not changed. The game was not a pretty win but it was a win. I will take 14 ugly wins over a pretty looking team that loses everyday of the week. The defense will keep us in games and the offense will make adjustments. You look across college football and there are a great number of top ranked teams that have to make similar adjustments. Is anyone out there worried about Bama's shot at making a run for a National Championship because their offense barely managed 200 total yards and didn't break 100 yards rushing? What about Texas A&M giving up 31 points to Rice? Does the fact that Buffalo had the 100th ranked scoring team last year and put up 20 on OSU despite not getting anything in garbage time? Maybe you are worried about how Miss St. was the 53rd ranked defense last year and Oklahoma State managed all of 21 points against them this weekend? MSU has work to do. There is no doubt about it but there is plenty of time to get there. I think its too early to push the panic button and give up on this year. We are still undefeated and looking good at winning means nothing.

MSUSpartan76 (Follow S76 on M-Live)
What was most disturbing? 2 things:
  • A repetition of last season's dropped passes.
  • A repetition of last season's 3rd down play calling that had the receiver stop 2 yards short of the 1st down marker. Those buttonhook patterns put the receiver's back to the defender. Can't get yards after catch if you don't know what the "space" is.
Where is the silver lining? Langford and, more generally, the rushing game will establish itself. A schematic error was identified in the power play, for example, and with that corrected we should see more yards on the ground. That was a specific example, but across the board, especially with reps with all the o-line starters all healthy, there will be more than satisfactory improvement.

Cook can run. Maxwell can pass. The QB contest is not over, but let Maxwell have receivers that catch the ball and he is throwing at 70%. Give him some better plays and the yards will go up. And, Maxwell showed us he could scramble and gain yardage. I would like to see Cook transitioned into a Keith Nichol type role - wildcat/receiver. He would definitely add to the offense being in there, just not as a pocket passer.

Our punter is a stud. We had 300+ "hidden" yards from field position and punting was the big reason.

How have you adjusted your expectations of specific aspects of the 2013 team, scheme, staff or general results? I still believe the Spartans will have a successful season. A winning season where they do contend for the conference title. The number of problems seen this season are actually fewer than last year - so far, and it is probable that we will see improvements on those as the season progresses. Somehow I can't help but think that the receivers are putting too much pressure on themselves, that they should go out and "have fun" rather than working to make things happen. If they loosen up a tad and they will play better. They may be trying too hard to prove something.

What has changed the most is my expectations of how the fans will support this team. Even last year's 7-6 season was far better than what we went through with Smith, Williams, and Waters just to name a few. The fans seem to be taking their cues from chUMps and THAT is quite disappointing. Spartans Stand Together and we should be on a higher plane than the Ann Arbor Charm School.

We should be looking at possible solutions to problems rather that being so earger to deal out punishment to those who make mistakes. "If we ___ then we can accomplish ___" is a much better approach than crying for a different QB or for firing a coach or benching a player.

[The FRONT-BURNER will post on Tuesdays
for the remainder of the Football Season.]

Off topic - I just wanted to share the pregame street march video of the MSU Marching Band. Students line up for the game early because their section is general admission. They never get a chance to see this! On another note, the student section was hilarious at the game. As the rains came they began to cheer. As the it turned to a downpour, they roared in defiance as if to say, "Bring it on!". Then when the lightening struck and the players and fans were running for cover and the rains turned torrential, the student did what their shirts proclaimed, SPARTANS STAND TOGETHER and they were as loud as I've ever heard them. Everyone was leaving - NOT THEM! NOT ONE! They were jumping and dancing. It was worth standing in the rain just to watch and listen to them. Great job! I thought an orgy might break out. Someone said to me, "I bet some of the students wish the student section t-shirts were white this year." 

Here is the best street marching band in the land: (Oops - video not working right. Will re-post when we ger 'er fixed.)

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