The Buckeyes of Ohio State will be coming to East Lansing this Saturday and so will ESPN’s College Game Day.
Now, while this is a BIG game for Michigan State, starting off the B1G season with a win against a tough opponent will be a nice step forward, don’t mistake this game for one of the best of the year simply because College Game Day is there…this is a very crappy week for college football and there weren’t any other options for ESPN.
It appears to be pretty obvious what Michigan State must do to beat OSU and get back on track for the B1G title game. The receivers have to catch the ball and make a few plays and the defense has to stop Braxton Miller.
That’s it and that’s all. Quite simple, right?
Well, to go a bit further in detail, if MSU is able to come out, use the play action to Le’Veon Bell early, establish Dion Sims and give Andrew Maxwell some confidence it will give the team a boost.
Maxwell can throw some of the bubble screens to the receiver of the hour too, and get them involved. This team needs to establish the passing game and the quickest, easiest way to do that is Sims and short routes. One or two drives of 5+ plays like this will start to open up the passing game for more downfield attempts AND open the holes for Bell for big gains on the ground.
Dan Rousher cannot come out, run Bell twice up the middle with 8 or 9 men on the line and expect to get more than a handful of yards, then run some 15 yard out pass and expect to do anything on the first series. That is the type of play calling, along with reverse passes that every defense is ready for now, that is expected and does not work for this team any more.
Creativity out of Rousher, against the grain, play action pass on first down, 5 yard slants, passing game rhythm early will go a long way and help out the running game and the defense tremendously.
Now, in order to stop Braxton Miller, the defense must treat him like Denard Robinson and blitz like crazy, make the tackle and force him to make poor decisions with the ball.
They have done this before multiple times against the athletic/scrambling QBs and are very capable of doing it again, however they need to not worry about what the offense is or isn’t doing and stop trying to win the game with a series of strips and pick 6’s that is putting them out of position.
The defense is strong enough to win the B1G Legends Division (I still have to look up which one they are in, these names are awful) but by remaining in position and forcing the other team to make mistakes. When they have good coverage downfield and a player like Miller at QB, all they will have to do is wait and the interceptions will come.
An early score or two will help them greatly in this capacity as it did with Boise State when the defense was able to focus on the basics and not scoring themselves.
It seems simple but it does all come down to Dan Rousher developing a better strategy and establishing the passing game. If that is able to happen, then everything else will fall in to place and this team will again, be considered a favorite for the B1G Championship game.