Sunday, November 8, 2015

Knee-jerk early morning Spartan football insomnia blues

It's past 1:30 AM and I can't sleep.

The focus is on the blown call by the officiating crew that gave Nebraska the game-winning touchdown, but really the game was lost earlier.

The offense is the reason the Spartans were even in a position to win this game in the first place, and the offense should have been given the opportunity to WIN the game in MSU's penultimate possession, but instead the coaching staff got sucked into the standard conservative playcalling that didn't even come close to yielding a first down. To make matters worse, since Nebraska had two timeouts to burn, hardly any time came off the clock anyway.

Perhaps the Spartan coaching staff was under the impression that surely the defense could stop the Huskers with only 55 seconds left in the game and no timeouts left, but the defense had struggled all night. What made them think this would suddenly change?

So while much of the focus is on a blown call--and it was an egregiously terrible call--the Spartans' doom was already at least largely foreshadowed by the Spartans' missed opportunity to ice the game by picking up just one first down.

Anyone who has been following Michigan State football this season with any level of detail knows that this is a flawed team. The chinks in the armor appeared on the first day of training camp when Ed Davis, arguably the team's best linebacker, was lost for the season. Then the secondary took big hits early on when its best cornerback, Vayante Copeland, was lost in the late stages of the Oregon game.

So we have a team with a patched-together secondary and a kickoff coverage unit that has been, at best, mediocre all season. MSU's Swiss cheese defense and spotty special teams combined to keep a highly motivated and spirited Nebraska team in the game. So while we can all rightfully be pissed off about that blown call, it's far from the only reason the Spartans lost.

MSU's faults finally caught up with them, and the coaching staff's unwillingness to place the game in the capable hands of its senior quarterback further hindered the team's chances at a victory.
I hope that the MSU coaching staff learns from this. You have a great quarterback in Connor Cook and receivers like Macgarrett Kings, R.J. Shelton, and Aaron Burbridge who have proven time and time again that they can make big plays. Use them wisely next time.

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