Michigan State Football: Will offense finally establish explosiveness in 2020?

Jalen Nailor, Michigan State football (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Jalen Nailor, Michigan State football (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

It’s been a few years, but Michigan State football desperately needs an offense that can record some explosive plays in 2020.

When Mel Tucker hired Jay Johnson as his offensive coordinator, many reactions from Spartan fans included “who?” and “what has he done?”

Those were fair questions because he wasn’t exactly a household name like the rest of Tucker’s staff, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Johnson was kind of a mystery because of the fact that Tucker hit every other hire out of the park and almost seemed drawn to Johnson as his offensive coordinator despite him not being a highly sought-after coach.

In his lone year as Colorado’s offensive coordinator, the Buffaloes ranked just 87th nationally in explosiveness, averaging 5.5 yards per play. Conversely, Michigan State was 105th nationally, averaging just 5.2 yards per play. There’s not a huge difference there, but he did more in one year with Colorado than the Spartans’ offensive staff could do in 2-3.

There’s not a ton of excitement surrounding the offense, but if Johnson can improve that explosiveness even a little bit, the Spartans should benefit in year one of the staff as well as breaking in a new quarterback.

Michigan State football’s lack of explosiveness

In 2019, the Spartans had just 2.59 percent of their passes go for 30 yards or more. That was just 12 of 464 pass attempts and it was the second-worst in the Big Ten and No. 125 in the nation. The year before, the Spartans ranked 126th nationally in explosiveness, averaging an abysmal 4.6 yards per play.

Things did not improve drastically from Dave Warner to Brad Salem — but they did improve. Now that the entire offensive staff is new, explosiveness can only increase.

Johnson has some tools to work with and as long as he finds the right quarterback, the solid receiving corps, improving offensive line and potential 1,000-yard rusher will help the Spartans become a surprise team and hopefully they’ll average more than 22.4 points per game (105th nationally a year ago).

The keys to the offense have been handed to Johnson and he must find a way to create more explosion. He has the pieces (Jalen Nailor, Tre Person, Jayden Reed, Matt Dotson, Trenton Gillison, Elijah Collins), he just needs to get creative.

More creativity will equate to explosiveness and I think every Spartan fan can agree.

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