Michigan State vs Western Michigan: Rapid Reaction


The first game of the 2015 season is now in the books as Michigan State vs Western Michigan ended as a success for the Spartans. Michigan State began its quest toward a Big Ten Championship and spot in the College Football Playoff on Friday night with a victory.

Related: MSU Football: 5 bold predictions for the month of September

In their first game against the Western Michigan Broncos, the Spartans sprinted out to a large lead only to see it dwindle down due to miscues and inability to get off the field when on defense.

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At the end of the day, there were bright spots as well as things to build on, but if the Spartans want to reach their goals, especially in the match up next week against the Oregon Ducks, they’re going to need to play more consistently on both sides of the ball.

Early on, the defense dominated. The front four is as good as billed, each player from Shilique Calhoun, Joel Heath, Lawrence Thomas, Malik McDowell and Demetrius Cooper all seemed to be in the backfield causing havoc. This will absolutely be a strength the entire year as the defensive line was dominate and impressive the entire game.

Another bright spot, was of course Montae Nicholson, he also lived up to the hype. Montae seemed to be everywhere, making tackles in the backfield, mid-level, and keeping up with receivers as they ran deep. Nicholson even threw in an interception on a tipped ball for good measure. This is the beginning of a great career and you can see what everyone has been raving about.

Sep 4, 2015; Kalamazoo, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans quarterback Connor Cook (18) has throw hurried by Western Michigan Broncos linebacker Robert Spillane (10) during the 1st half of a game at Waldo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

More consistent play will be needed from the linebackers as well as the corners. There were flashes from each group, such as Riley Bullough’s timely sacks, or the impressive play in the game from Vayante Copeland and Demetrious Cox — the latter needs to sure up his tackling though.

However, there were blown coverages, allowing for a touchdown as well as play on the edges that can be tightened up, especially when it comes to the backups. There is promise, but a big test is coming next week from the speed and pass-happy Ducks.

Tonight it appeared they were not exactly ready for what was coming, but they have a week of practice to attempt to sure things up.

On the offensive side of the ball, 37 points is nothing to be ashamed of but there seemed to be something missing throughout the night. There were several instances of brilliant and efficient drives, but there were other drives that left Spartan Nation wanting more.

Early on, Connor Cook was off, throwing passes off target; he did settle down but there were still some throws that he would want back. Nit-picking of course will come with this season, but with such lofty goals Cook needs to continue to play more consistent and in the big games the Spartans will need him to hit all of his throws.

Spartan Nation should rest easy when it comes to the question marks at receiver and running back. Although there was not a single player that took the Tony Lippett or Jeremy Langford role, the committee in each position performed just fine.

The combination of Madre London, Gerald Holmes and L.J. Scott accounted for 190 yards and three touchdowns. London seemed to have the hot hand early and Scott came on late. Each ran with speed and power and looked very impressive.

Sep 4, 2015; Kalamazoo, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans running back Gerald Holmes (24) runs the ball against the Western Michigan Broncos during the 1st half of a game at Waldo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

The receiving corps had contributions from everyone as well it seemed.

Aaron Burbridge seemed to be the go-to along with Josiah Price when Connor Cook needed to make a play. AJ Troup, R.J. Shelton, Macgarrett Kings and DeAnthony Arnett all had contributions as well. As most of Spartan Nation suspected, this is going to be a receiver by committee much like 2013.

All-in-all it was a good performance for Michigan State but there are definitely more improvements that need to be made.

With Oregon coming in next week the offense must play more consistently, the defense has to tackle better and blown coverages simply can’t happen.

For the Spartans to continue to reach higher, the Oregon game is a must win, and Coach Dantonio will have plenty of tape to show the team where they must improve and keep them hungry.

Next: MSU Football: Secondary exposed in WMU win