Michigan State vs Oregon: What worked and what didn’t against the Ducks

2 of 9

Sep 12, 2015; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans running back LJ Scott (3) runs the ball for a touchdown against Oregon Ducks defensive back Arrion Springs (1) during the 2nd half of a game at Spartan Stadium. MSU won 31-28. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Running backs

The Spartans narrowed their running back rotation to two players this game. Almost like Tom Izzo shortening his bench when tournament time comes, it seemed that offensive coordinator Dave Warner wanted to go with the guys he trusted most.

Related: Michigan State vs Oregon: Grading the Spartans’ performance

And at this point the guys that the coaching staff trusts most are redshirt freshman Madre London and true freshman L.J. Scott. What they lack in experience they make up for in talent, athleticism and will. They combined for almost 180 yards rushing with London leading the way with 103.

What went well: Busting the big one

In the opener against Western, no MSU back had a long run of 25 yards or more. In this one, both London and Scott busted for runs longer than 35 yards, with Scott’s 38-yarder going for a touchdown.

Sep 12, 2015; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans running back LJ Scott (3) runs the ball against the Oregon Ducks during the fourth quarter at Spartan Stadium. Spartans beat the Ducks 31-28. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The two long runs led to 14 of the Spartans 31 points, so the importance cannot be overstated. These kind of large-chunk runs change games and MSU will do well to keep opening those holes for London and Scott to bust through.

What didn’t: Consistency

The flip side of gashing the Oregon defense for the big runs was the inconsistency in-between the tackles.

If you take away London’s 62 yard run, his per rush average comes down to a paltry 2.4 and with Scott’s 38 yarder he has a 3.8 yards per carry average. Big runs always boost yards per carry averages, but it still would be nice to have the backs gain more yardage consistently.

Scott has been favorably compared to Spartan great Le’Veon Bell, but Bell was exceptional at following his blockers. London and Scott still have to work on going where the play is designed, trusting their blockers, and using their vision from there.

Both are excellent at running through tackles and keeping their legs moving. So the issue isn’t effort, it’s about consistently running where they are supposed to run.

Next: Receivers