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

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Sep 12, 2015; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans linebacker Chris Frey (23) celebrates after making a play during the fourth quarter against the Oregon Ducks at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans beat the Ducks 31-28. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports


After a poor showing in space against Western Michigan, Spartan Nation was pretty nervous about what the speedy Ducks would do to them.

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Overall, the coaches had to be pleased with the linebackers tackling in space. Darien Harris made a few tackling mistakes early, but fared well for most of the rest of the game.

What went well: Tackling, tackling, tackling

Riley Bullough led the way with a game-high 14 tackles. He was instrumental in the goal-line stand where he made consecutive tackles on 2nd, 3rd, and 4th down. His tackle on Vernon Adams on second down was incredible as he shed his blocker and cut Adams down at the knees to stop him in his tracks on what looked like sure touchdown.

Bullough’s fellow starting linebackers Darien Harris and Jon Reschke weren’t far behind with 12 and 11 tackles, respectively.

What didn’t: Pass coverage

Michigan State was eaten alive by quick throws to the perimeter.

In their ‘Cover 4’ defense, the linebackers have responsibility to get out there to make a play on those short passes. The linebackers need to do a better job of getting off of blocks and keeping those catches to three yard gains rather than 7-10 yard gains Oregon was getting.

This isn’t solely the responsibility of the linebackers, but they need to make an impact on the game out in the flats.

Next: Secondary