2. Payton Thorne is back, the run game should take a back seat
When writing about Michigan State football for the last two weeks, I have been very critical of Payton Thorne. I did mention that this week was the moment where Thorne needed to step up, and he did just that.
In the end, Thorne and Keon Coleman seemed determined to take the Spartans to victory or die trying. Thorne was very accurate during the game, holding only one incompletion at the half. During the broadcast, Robert Griffin III was calling for the Spartans to put the game in Thorne’s hands. Jay Johnson certainly tried, but there was only so much an offense can do when they were down 21 points before the Spartans had run more than a dozen plays.
Thorne was willing to use his tight ends and running backs as release valves instead of trying to make a play. He also used his legs to gain crucial yardage for the Spartans when they needed it. He did this under duress nearly every time he dropped back to pass. This game was easily his best of the season and one of the best in his career thus far.
The junior quarterback had a handful of bad throws and a few bad decisions, but he was arguably the best player on the Spartan offense not named Coleman. For the most part, the quarterback took what the defense gave him. The more the Spartans passed the ball, the more successful their drives were. Thorne finished with 323 yards and three touchdowns, as well as setting up the other touchdown, with Daniel Barker being stopped just shy of the end zone.
The run game, on the other hand, was non-existent. The Killer Bs were reduced to gnats as the two had 17 attempts for 30 yards. Jalen Berger added 38 yards receiving, and Broussard dropped a two-point conversion. The Spartan offensive line could not get a push or get to the back seven, leaving Broussard and Berger to end up one-on-one with the linebackers and safeties when they were not avoiding defensive linemen in the backfield.
Both players entered the game without being tackled for loss this season, and that obviously changed. Broussard was dropped in the endzone for a safety, and Berger turned a few first-and-10 situations into second-and-12.
The offense took a step forward despite scoring a season-low for points, but the defense took more than a few steps back.