Michigan State Football: What worked and didn’t work against Western

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Sep 4, 2015; Kalamazoo, MI, USA; Western Michigan Broncos running back Jamauri Bogan (32) is tackled by Michigan State Spartans linebacker Jon Reschke (33) during the 2nd half of a game at Waldo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports


With two new starters at the linebacker position this unit perceived as one of strength still has a lot to prove this year. It was an up and down game for the self-named ‘Bomb Squad.’

What went well: At the line of scrimmage

Riley Bullough led the team with nine tackles including three sacks. He did his most damage behind the line of scrimmage. His partner at strong side linebacker spot, Jon.

Related: MSU Football: 5 position battles to follow

Reschke also had nine tackles. Darien Harris rounded out the tackle attack with eight tackles including one tackle for loss. Working in tandem with the defensive line, the linebacker crew controlled the line of scrimmage. They held the Broncos to 18 yards rushing — which includes yards lost via sacks.

What didn’t: Tackles in space

While the linebackers did very well at the line of scrimmage, their play out in space left a lot to be desired.

Bullough was a beast in the backfield, but missed a few tackles in open space. Bad angles were taken and the Bronco receivers were able to get quite a few yards after the catch. Ten-yard catches against Western will be 50-yard catches against Oregon.

Tackling in space will need to be improved considerably against Oregon. Additionally, Harris was victimized badly in coverage twice. Once on a wheel route which fell incomplete and the second on a tight end leak which resulted in a Western touchdown. The image of Harris frantically chasing a receiver is not one that needs to be repeated against Oregon — or anyone else this year.

Next: Defensive backs