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; Michigan State Spartans offensive lineman Donavon Clark (76) and Michigan State Spartans quarterback Connor Cook (18) celebrate win after a game at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Offensive line

The offensive line has been one of the real strengths of the Spartans so far this year. That strength did not shine through well against Air Force’s stacked defense.

What went well: ???

Maybe this is being a little harsh on one of the best units in the entire Big Ten, but that’s the flip side of high expectations. When you are supposed to dominate and you look mediocre, it feels worse than it is.

Must Read: MSU Football: 5 bold predictions for the 2015 season

The best thing we can say about the offensive line play this week is that Benny McGowan and Miguel Machado got significant reps in a tough game. When the Spartans get Kodi Kieler back, they will have developed some more depth on the offensive line.

What didn’t: Keeping Cook clean

MSU gave up its first sacks of the season after keeping Cook upright against Western Michigan and Oregon. Air Force was able to tally three sacks on the senior QB. Additionally, he was forced to take an intentional grounding penalty to avoid a fourth sack.

Some of the blame (or credit) for the sacks can be directed to Air Force’s defensive scheme because they brought more than MSU could block, however two of the sacks were on the offensive line. Both McGowan and Machado made mistakes that led to Cook getting touched up.

The third sack was probably Madre London’s fault for not picking up the most immediate threat on a seven-man blitz with six MSU blockers. London was sliding over to engage a pass rusher that McGowan let through and in doing so left a wide open lane to the blitzing safety.

Any way you slice it, it was not a good day for the MSU offensive line. There were communication errors and technique errors and physical errors. MSU should be significantly better than it’s opponents in the next several games so there is time to improve all those facets before it faces a very good Michigan front seven.

Next: Defensive line