Saturday, September 1, 2012

Beast mode: Michigan State 17, Boise State 13

The one MSU player who was truly in "Beast Mode" last night was Le'Veon Bell, and when I saw this photo posted on Facebook today, I knew I had to post it on this blog.

It was far from the prettiest game ever played, but it was a win against a quality opponent, and in the end that's all that matters.  Here are some observations of last night's Michigan State victory:

Playing the very first game of the season against a very good opponent like Boise State only magnified the relatively minor flaws and kinks in Michigan State's team. If MSU had opened against a weak team like UAB or Youngstown State, I don't think many would notice these flaws because the Spartans would more than likely roll in a blowout.  The value in starting the season against Boise State is that the areas in which the Spartans need to improve are readily apparent.

The good news is that the mistakes MSU made are fixable, and to a large extent were repaired in the second half of the game.  For example, Andrew Maxwell threw three interceptions, all in the first half.  His decision making and overall play improved drastically in the second half.

The defense was outstanding, and was as good as advertised. Le'Veon Bell made quite a statement in a nationally televised game, and Dion Sims will be a big, bruising target for Andrew Maxwell.

On the subject of Maxwell, I was disappointed to read so many disparaging comments about him on Facebook during the game by Spartan fans. (I must force myself to stop looking at Facebook during MSU football and basketball games, there are too many hysteria-driven comments).  Folks, it was his first game as a starter...and it's not as if he was going up against Eastern Michigan or Kent State. This was Boise State (72-6 record since 2006) under the lights on national television.  That would give anyone a case of stage fright. Overall, I think Maxwell had a good game, and much better in the second half when it mattered the most.

Looking at Maxwell's deficiencies, the good part is that they are all fixable. Some poor performances happen simply because the player in question lacks talent or physical ability. This is definitely not the case with Maxwell. He is mobile, athletic, and has a cannon for an arm. His problems last night were with decision making, which is a common problem with new quarterbacks. Believe it or not, even Kirk Cousins had those problems in his first year as a starter in 2009, and to a lesser extent in 2010.

At this point, I'm a little more concerned about the wide receivers.  But once again, it has to be pointed out that all of these guys were starting for the first time in their careers. Both Bennie Fowler and Tony Lippett can fly, it's just a matter of hanging onto the ball.  Look for MSU to open up the passing game a little bit against Central Michigan to help these guys work the kinks out.

Back to Le'Veon Bell for a moment. The man has the most incredible spin move I have seen since Barry Sanders, and I really don't think that's a stretch.

Well, I'm being forced off the computer now, through forces beyond my control. I may or may not get back to this later (probably not). In any event, it was a solid win for the Spartans last night.

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