The 2016 Michigan State season is dawning upon us. The Spartans will take on Furman University today at 7 p.m. ET at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing
Before MSU kicks off the its season, I thought you Spartan fanatics should have a realistic idea of what record the Spartans have in their sights. Let’s get underway.
Best Case Scenario:
This squad may very well mirror the 2013 season. The Spartans’ defense plays lights-out but the offense struggles to find its rhythm early on. Just like 2013, MSU will start picking up steam with a new starting quarterback and new playmakers emerging as the season progresses. Michigan State caps off the season in style with a blooming offense that played with a ton of confidence, feeding off of the success of the lockdown defense.
The offense gets off to the fast start they were looking for. Running backs LJ Scott and Gerald Holmes have the hot hand. This will suck the defenders stacking the box, anticipating run. Quarterback Tyler O’Connor will take advantage off of play action passes and hooking up with his receivers. He has established chemistry with all his receivers, e with newcomers like Donnie Corley and Darrell Stewart.
Senior tight ends Josiah Price and Jamal Lyles showcase their strengths by becoming reliable targets and sealing the edge on stretch runs. Fullbacks Delton Williams and Prescott Line will adjust smoothly to their new roles, and lead the way for the three-headed monster.
Rookies Benny McGowan and Miguel Machado will step up big time alongside veterans Brian Allen and Kodi Kieler. Expect several draw plays that will give the offensive line more time to spring up to the second level to block off the linebackers.
The 2016 defense will outshine the growing offense. Defensive end Malik McDowell will be in midseason form, racking up insane numbers. Starters Evan Jones and Kevin Williams excel in the spotlight, taking a boat load of pressure off of McDowell.
The linebackers will meet expectations by serving as the heart and soul of this ball club. They will be a great security blanket to the defensive line by shutting down the run and forcing their opponent in third and long situations. This will ease the pressure on the defensive backfield by generating pressure, causing the opposing quarterback to be uncomfortable in the pocket.
The special teams does their part, with kicker Michael Geiger having a huge bounce back year. Expect a trick up the sleeve from Mark Dantonio in this area. Remember Little Giants?
After beating Iowa in a rematch in the 2016 Big Ten Championship game, Michigan State will once again advance to the College Football Playoff. The Spartans will have the edge on defense and overpower their competitors and win their first national title since 1966.
Worst Case Scenario:
This team could also reflect the 2012 campaign. An inexperienced successor guides the Green and White to a subpar record. The defense remains strong, but the offense squeaks by just enough to keep them in the ball game. Dantonio described football as a game of inches.Unfortunately for this version, the Spartans come up just short, finishing with a disappointing year.
Similar to 2012, the Spartans suffer several close games at home. Tyler O’Connor struggles to perform in the spotlight, unable to maintain his patience and composure from the spring game. The unproductive offense won’t be able to counter high scoring teams like Ohio State.
This causes MSU to lean towards a hefty run-oriented philosophy, integrating jumbo and goal line packages. Because of this scheme, the offensive line will suffer through injuries and miscommunication that will result in several backwards plays. Michael Geiger will have the weight of the world on his shoulders to drill field goals to remain in striking distance.
This is too predictable for the opposing defense, who has no problem slowing down the ground game sufficiently to force a punt. This will also drastically damage O’Connor’s confidence in his play making abilities as a pocket passer.
The sturdy defense led behind the stout linebacking corp will keep the unit unified. The lack of offense will make their continuity and willpower stronger.
It’s inevitable that the opposing offense gets rolling. There are an abundance of ways for an inefficient offense to experience solid field position, such as forcing a turnover in Spartan territory or taking advantage of an MSU special teams error.
Thanks to the slacking offense, the Spartans will ultimately collapse in the late stages of the game. With the offense consistently going three and out and punting, the defense will be extremely fatigued and somewhat unmotivated because they will be on the field much longer than they should be. This can be detrimental to a team not just on the field, but off the field as well. It may cause tensions to flare, dividing teammates and perhaps the coaching staff.
Defense indeed wins championships, but the offense often sets them up in prime position to get the job done. The main reason why the 2013 edition was able to find the inches was because of a reliable offense who moved the ball in a methodical like matter with gradual momentum. The defense will end up playing much better and harder if their demands are met by staying rested and drawing up strategies on the sideline.