Air Force vs Michigan State: What worked and what didn’t for the Spartans

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Sep 19, 2015; East Lansing, MI, USA; Air Force Falcons quarterback Karson Roberts (16) has pass hurried by Michigan State Spartans defensive lineman Malik McDowell (4) during the 2nd half of a game at Spartan Stadium. MSU won 35-21. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State took on a tricky, and very successful, Air Force team on Saturday and was able to hang on pretty comfortably for a win. After MSU went up by 28 points in the third quarter, Air Force was able to score 14 straight points to make the game closer than anticipated.

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Still, the Spartans controlled the Air Force vs Michigan State game from start to finish, using timely turnovers to keep the potent Falcons’ attack at bay.

The Spartans are now ranked No. 2 in the AP poll this week for the first time since 1966. Despite the lofty ranking, State will look to solidify the positive and improve the negative.

With that in mind, We take a look at the good and bad of each position group for the game against Air Force.


Cook improved his accuracy for the second straight game throwing for 65 percent completion rate. He also had a season-high and tied a career-high with four touchdown passes.

What went well: Finding his guy

Cook is getting very comfortable with wide receiver Aaron Burbridge. It seems that whenever MSU needs a big conversion, Cook seeks out Burbridge. That guy was Tony Lippett last year and it’s good to see that Cook has found someone he can count on this year.

Sep 19, 2015; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans quarterback Connor Cook (18) attempts to throw the ball against the Air Force Falcons during the 2nd half of a game at Spartan Stadium. MSU won 35-21. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

If there is a receiver he trusts, it allows Cook  to throw it in his direction with a lot of confidence. Cook found his other guy, Josiah Price, for yet another touchdown, as well. All four of Cook’s touchdown passes went to Burbridge (3) and Price (1).

What didn’t: Line of scrimmage adjustments

Air Force’s defensive game plan was to put more men in the box than could be blocked. This meant that Cook was under pressure most of the game and the running game was largely stifled.

It would be great to see Cook changing some plays at the line to account for the extra blitzer or to audible out of a doomed run play.

It’s not clear if Cook doesn’t have the freedom to change the play or doesn’t see the need to, but some of those plays were ugly to watch.

Next: Running backs