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 defensive back Demetrious Cox (7) knocks the ball away from Air Force Falcons wide receiver Jalen Robinette (9) at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive backs

Coming into the game, Air Force had thrown total of seven completions in two games. This combined with the fact that they had their backup quarterback starting after losing their starter for the year made it seem like the MSU secondary might be getting an afternoon off — at least when it came to pass defense.

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As Lee Corso might say: Not so fast, my friend. The Air Force passing attack threw for a season high 149 yards against an unsuspecting MSU secondary.

What went well: RJ Williamson

Any time you score a 62 yard touchdown on a fumble return and get an interception, you had a good game. Williamson had a good game. And though he could be seen chasing futilely after an Air Force wide receiver on one of the MSU blown coverages, I don’t think that breakdown was his fault. It seemed that fellow safety Monte Nicholson was at fault for that particular bust. It wasn’t a great day for MSU defensive backs, but Williamson was a bright spot.

What didn’t: Falling asleep

For much of the game, it looked like Air Force wasn’t even going to try to pass the ball. It wasn’t until the second possession of the third quarter that a pass was completed for positive yardage. It was the second pass attempt at all for Air Force and it went 38 yards for a touchdown. The secondary fell completely asleep.

Fine, it’s one play, they got ’em. You know the saying — fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, well, shame on you, MSU secondary. Subsequent to that play, they gave up passes of 32, 24 and 44 yards. Yes, they gave up more chunk plays in the passing game to Air Force than they did to Oregon.

The 44-yarder was another fall asleep play for a touchdown. The secondary was needed to support in stopping the dangerous Air Force running attack, but their primary responsibility is to protect against the pass. They forgot their primary responsibility on several plays.

Next: Special Teams