Michigan State opened the 2016 season at home by defeating the Furman 28-13. MSU quarterback Tyler O’Connor led the offensive charge for the Spartans with 190 yards and three touchdowns. Linebackers Riley Bullough, Chris Frey and Andrew Dowell contributed to the defensive effort with 25 combined tackles.
The Spartan offense had its moments. LJ Scott handled the majority of the carries and racked up 105 yards. O’Connor also had key minutes, connecting five times with senior Monty Madaris, who had a big game with 85 yards through the air.
The Spartan offense also had inconsistent and sloppy flashes. In spite of Scott’s yards on the ground, his success was short-lived, as MSU had trouble feeding him the ball consistently. Although O’Connor made some impressive throws, he struggled handling pressure from Furman’s front seven. He also had difficulty finding receivers beyond his first choice.
The play-calling from Dantonio was very conservative. This was probably because he did not want to show Notre Dame some of their more intricate plays. Still, this simplified play-calling kept Furman in the game. The Spartans could never quite pull away.
“I think everybody’s walking in here and expecting us to have a 40-3 shot,” said Dantonio. “That didn’t happen.”
The Spartans also finished the game with a glaring 10 penalties for 120 yards. These penalties often came at horrific moments, as many drives for MSU ended early due to flags thrown by referees. After the whistle, Dantonio addressed the sloppiness of his team.
“We kept seemingly shooting ourselves in the foot,” Dantonio said, “but you [have] got to be resilient out there.”
MSU had a few solid moments in their victory over the Paladins, but overall showed disorder and lack of execution. This should not come as a massive surprise, considering this was their first game with a medley of inexperienced players.
“I don’t know if we were flat,” said Spartan linebacker Riley Bullough. “We knew we could just play better.”
It is also worth noting that RJ Shelton saw limited minutes, Felton Davis was hurt for part of the game, and Ed Davis and Jon Reschke did not play at all. Still, with a road game against Notre Dame in two weeks, MSU will have plenty to work on in their week off.
The Spartans have a bye next week before they roll to South Bend to play the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.