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

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Sep 12, 2015; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans place kicker Michael Geiger (4) kicks a field goal out of the hold of Michigan State Spartans wide receiver Matt Macksood (86) during the 2nd half of a game at Spartan Stadium. MSU won 31-28. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Special teams

Another week, another forgettable performance by the special teams. If it’s not one thing then it’s another — last two weeks kick coverage, this week another missed field goal.

One of these days, special teams will cost MSU if they don’t get it cleaned up. Luckily for Spartan fans, head coach Mark Dantonio puts a premium on special teams.

What went well: Not giving up a return TD

When what went well was not giving up a disastrous play, you know you aren’t in a good place. But MSU special teams are not in a good place. The coverage units had new guys in place and they got the job done. Montae Nicholson who excelled at kick coverage as a true freshman was not on the opening kick team while Grayson Miller, a true freshman this year was.

It seems like Dantonio is willing to burn Miller’s redshirt just for special teams play as he is not likely to take over for Nicholson or Williamson at the safety position. Using a true freshman for special teams is not unprecedented as Chris Frey played almost exclusively on special teams last year.

What didn’t: Placekicking

As a freshman two years ago, Michael Geiger was outstanding — missing just one field goal the entire year. Last year was much more of a struggle, some of which was explained away by a nagging injury.

Geiger had offseason hip surgery and was supposed to come back stronger than ever. At this point, it isn’t clear if the problem is physical or mental, but there is clearly a problem for Geiger. He’s now missed half of his field goal attempts and one of the announcers mentioned Geiger was struggling in warm-ups before the game. Missing a couple of field goals might not be a big deal, but Geiger is missing very short field goals — kicks that should be automatic.

Coach Dantonio is fond of saying that it’s a game of inches. In 2012, MSU couldn’t find the inches. Special teams are a very big part of the inches game, MSU has traditionally found inches in special teams. If they want to attain their goals, the special teams will need to improve across the board.

Next: Big Ten Football Power Rankings: Week 4

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