Michigan State Football: What went wrong in shutout loss to Indiana?

Not much went right for Michigan State football in a 24-0 loss to Indiana on Saturday but what exactly went wrong for the Spartans?

It seemed like nothing could go right for Michigan State on Saturday afternoon as for the second straight week, the Spartans were held to under 10 points, but this time they were blanked by Indiana.

The No. 10 Hoosiers beat the Spartans to end a three-year drought, bringing the Old Brass Spittoon to Bloomington with them.

Mel Tucker and the Spartans have been out-scored 73-7 over the past two weeks and it looks like the offense is punchless. They made a quarterback change as Rocky Lombardi threw two interceptions early on and looked off once again. Payton Thorne came in and finished 10-for-20 with 110 yards and an interception. He added 25 rushing yards.

The bright spots were few and far between so what exactly went wrong for Michigan State on Saturday?

  • Getting behind early. Michigan State found itself down 14-0 in the first quarter for the second game in a row and from that point on, players were forcing things and it’s clear this team doesn’t fare well when trying to play catch-up.
  • Rocky off again. Rocky Lombardi just didn’t have it for the second straight game. He threw two interceptions early on and was inaccurate from the get-go.
  • Turnovers. Two interceptions and a fumble in the first half led to 17 points. That was really all Indiana needed as the Spartans lost the turnover battle yet again despite picking off two Michael Penix Jr. passes.
  • Poor punt game. Bryce Baringer had a couple of booming punts and one really short one that gave Indiana great field position. The problem with his booming punts is the fact that the punt coverage unit has a tough time getting down the field quick enough to hold the returner in check. Once again, Michigan State gave up too many return yards.
  • Run game abandoned. Getting behind early has consequences and one of those is the abandonment of the run game. Elijah Collins finally showed a couple of flashes despite having just five yards and Jordon Simmons had just 15 yards on five touches. This team has zero run game right now and is completely one-dimensional.
  • Offensive line play. There were some bright spots with the offensive line, but for the most part, I was left relatively unimpressed. The Hoosiers had four sacks and seven tackles for loss and honestly, it should have been even worse. Indiana was in the backfield all game as Rocky and Thorne were running for their lives, forced to make plays outside the pocket.
  • Subpar play-calling. Jay Johnson needs to read the instruction manual left behind by Dave Warner on what not to do as offensive coordinator. No stretch run plays to the short side of the field, no 3-yard routes on third-and-10, quit running up the middle on every first down and for goodness sakes please never run a draw with Connor Heyward up the middle on third-and-10. None of that should happen. Ever. Seven points in the past eight quarters is, well, not great.
  • Missing pieces. We still have barely seen much of Julian Barnett, Elijah Collins is under-utilized, the tight ends are non-factors and where the heck has Tre’Von Morgan been? Too many important pieces not seeing the field. Why not give them a run?

Obviously, more went wrong, but what did you think was the biggest issue for the Spartans on Saturday afternoon?