3. Average 4.5 yards per rush attempt
Lastly and arguably most importantly, this team needs to be able to run the ball.
Too many times, the offense would start a drive with a 1-yard gain or a run play for a loss. All it would take is a bad cut, a drop or a quarterback sack for this team to be in third-and-long which is a total drive killer, and the reason Bryce Baringer was the MVP of the season.
It’s not a coincidence that all the teams that made the playoff averaged over five yards a carry last season. It drains the clock, it keeps a tiring defense off the field, it can freeze linebackers with play-action and then fire a pass to a tight end in the middle. If there’s little to no threat to run the ball, it’s going to make the quarterbacks job that much harder.
Not only because the defense can drop more into coverage, but I think Payton Thorne put too much pressure on himself because he thought he had to be all the offense.
A supporting run game can be a new quarterback’s best friend, and with the experience and depth that was lacking last year coming back this season, they can be the key to helping the Spartans compete in the Big Ten once again.