Spartan Red Zone: X-Factors for Maryland


Brendan Wilner: @b_wilner16

Michigan State will try to knock off Maryland at College Park on Saturday night to avoid a five-game losing streak. There will be two keys for the Spartans in order for them to get a win.

The first one will be containing the run. Maryland has two athletic running backs who rack up yards in a hurry. Freshman Lorenzo Harrison has run for 397 yards so far with 8.3 yards per carry, while sophomore Ty Johnson has run for 367 yards per game and 9.7 ypc. Maryland features two strong running backs and the defensive line for the Spartans will have to step up and stop them.

On the other side of the ball, MSU will need to establish a single running back for the game. Whether it is LJ Scott, Madre London, or Gerald Holmes, one of those guys needs to be getting 15+ carries. That goes along with the play-calling of co-offensive coordinator Dave Warner. He will need to be consistent in his play-calling if MSU wants to win.

If the Spartans can do those things and have good play from their quarterback and secondary, then they should get their first Big Ten win of 2016, which many people didn’t see that happening this late in the season.

David Manion: @The_Manion1

Michigan State is currently on a four game losing streak for the first time since 2006. The Spartans hope to avoid dropping five in a row for the first time since 1991 as they square off against Maryland in College Park.

The biggest key for MSU is for coach Mark Dantonio and his staff to implement severe changes and maintain it on a consistent basis.

Pulling quarterback Brian Lewerke out of the game against Northwestern and then yanking quarterback Tyler O’Connor out of the starting lineup the week before for inexplicable reasons isn’t going to solve anything. The Spartans are still searching for an identity on both sides of the ball and holding a quarterback race in the middle of the season is a recipe for disaster.

Personally, the best way for Michigan State to get back to track is to become a pass heavy team. The receivers’ athleticism and range as a collective unit are too good to not become an integral part of the offensive gameplan.

Co-offensive coordinator Dave Warner should spread out the field in shotgun formation and grant O’Connor or Lewerke opportunities to have a gunslinger mentality. Because of the major struggles of the offensive line, I recommend that Warner calls multiple wide receiver/running back screens and quick routes like slants and hitches where the starting quarterback can get the ball out of his hands early without worrying about being sacked.

If MSU has success with this short aerial attack, it will force the Maryland defensive backfield to creep up and give the wideouts less breathing room. And when the Terps’ anticipation kicks in, that’s when Michigan State can take advantage of the deep ball with RJ Shelton and Donnie Corley’s incredible home-run potential.

Expect the Spartans to tally their first conference win because of a new and improved scheme and approach on offense and defense that will ultimately blow the Terrapins away.

Andy Chmura: @andy_chmura

How does Michigan State go from a playoff team to barely in bowl game conversation? There are a number of things wrong with the Spartans including quarterback problems, lack of execution, poor tackling, etc. But why are the Spartans so bad in so many areas. A team as talented as this should not be losing by double digits to teams such as Northwestern or BYU at home.

I think there are internal problems within MSU’s football program that we do not know about. Their once-famous chip on the shoulder mentality has disappeared along with the drive to win. I believe that MSU is suffering from a lack of leadership.

When a team is struggling to reach their potential, who has the greatest ability to push them forward? The seniors. Mark Dantonio and the coaching staff can get in the faces of the players all they want, but its effect will only go so far. Players are used to being scolded by coaches, it is nothing new.

The senior class needs to take control of this team. They need to bring this squad together instead of tearing them apart. They need to put the the younger players in the right mindset, and stride toward a common goal. Once this happens, MSU will have tremendous practices where everything clicks. This momentum generated in practice will translate into the playing field, and Michigan State will win games.