Michigan State Football: 3 keys to upset over Michigan in Week 9

Xavier Henderson, Michigan State football (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Xavier Henderson, Michigan State football (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /
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Michigan State football
Elijah Collins, Michigan State football (Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images) /

3. Control the time of possession

Michigan State’s ground game was atrocious versus Rutgers as they only were able to gain 50 total yards on 39 carries. That equates to a meager 1.3 yards per attempt. The Spartan offensive line did not generate nearly enough drive or push upfield and they engage their blocks long enough to produce running lanes for the backs to zoom through.

Jordon Simmons brought some juice but Connor Heyward and Elijah Collins ran with a lack of intensity and no toughness (their pass protection was horrendous, too). Heyward is not fleet of foot which makes him a liability at times. Many Michigan State fans were left scratching their heads when he not only received the start but also was given a surprising bulk of touches.

Collins stood out at times last year and showed why he’s worthy of being a lead back so it’s imperative that he kick it into high gear and be the player he is capable of evolving into. If he doesn’t, we may see Simmons featured more often.

Michigan has a dangerous offense. Jay Johnson needs to call the game of his life to keep the opposition on the sidelines and control the clock.

It’s critical that Michigan State convert their third-down attempts. They failed to move the chains on 10 different occasions on third down versus Rutgers. Their two additional fourth-down collapses were momentum-crushing moments against the Scarlet Knights.

Michigan State has a pair of explosive athletes in Jayden Reed and Jalen Nailor. They are absolutely electric (three touchdowns between them both on the young season) and they can keep drives alive with their elusiveness, quickness and ability to find soft spots within an opponents secondary. Rocky Lombardi needs to feed them early and often.

Controlling the clock is wonderful but so is finding the end zone frequently.

Next. 3 takeaways from ugly loss to Rutgers. dark