The Michigan State football program has been unable to make big plays on a consistent basis against strong defensive teams this season, as fans have witnessed against Notre Dame and Ohio State.
Last Saturday in its loss against the No. 12 Buckeyes, the Spartans scored a meager 16 points, mostly because the team couldn’t turn an average play into a larger gain.
“There were a lot of times that we could have made plays,” Michigan State’s star running back Le’Veon Bell said after Saturday’s loss. “It was a couple of little inches here and a couple of little inches there that could have made a difference in the game. Those plays just didn’t go our way and we’ve got to learn from it and move on.”
The time to move on and learn from Saturday’s loss is right now.
Michigan State travels to Memorial Stadium to take on a lowly 2-2 Indiana team this Saturday, and this game is a perfect opportunity for the Spartans to improve its playmaking ability.
The Hoosiers have allowed opposing offenses to score an average of 27 points per game this season, which currently ranks Indiana as the 72nd team in the nation in points against.
Because of the severe difference in talent, there are going to be moments where the Spartans will catch the Hoosiers sleeping on defense. Michigan State must capitalize on those types of opportunities.
If MSU can get used to making huge plays on offense Saturday, the team can carry that momentum into the meat of its Big Ten conference schedule when the team has to play Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska in back-to-back-to-back games. It is unrealistic for the Spartans to rely on the strength of its defense to keep the team in the game against an offense like Nebraska’s, which features the two-headed ground game monster of Rex Burkhead and Ameer Abdullah. Playmaking has now become mandatory for the Spartans.
Quarterback Andrew Maxwell must figure out how to connect with his wide receivers downfield for a huge gainer on a semi-regular basis during games or opposing defenses will never take eight defenders out of the box, meaning there will never be open running lanes for Bell.
Michigan State football should blow out Indiana this weekend, but head coach Mark Dantonio would be wise to keep Maxwell and the starting offense in after the game gets out of hand practice its playmaking ability.