Michigan State offense looks to improve against Western Michigan

You can listen to Impact Sports call Michigan State vs. WMU on 88.9 FM in the Lansing area

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Mark Dantonio (Photo: SIobhan Findlay / WDBM)

Luke Saccone, Football Beat Reporter

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State will have the opportunity this Saturday to win its second game of the season against the Western Michigan Broncos. Head coach Mark Dantonio could tie Duffy Daugherty as Michigan State’s all-time winningest coach with a win this weekend.

The Spartans also have the chance to prove to many what this year’s team is capable of.

After last Friday, most people know what the Michigan State defense is capable of. It is hard to see a better performance on the defensive side of the ball than the one this past weekend. The Spartans held the Tulsa Golden Hurricane to -73 rushing yards, a school-record low for any opponents of Michigan State. That record had been held since 1950.

Mark Dantonio/Photo: MSU Athletic Communications

This week, however, Western Michigan is coming into East Lansing with some fire power in the air. Senior quarterback Jon Wassink completed 80% of his passes for 368 yards and five touchdowns in WMU’s win last week against Monmouth.

“Wassink is an outstanding quarterback, he makes all the plays, makes the throws,” Dantonio said at his weekly press conference on Tuesday. “He’s got a good group of receivers, [LeVante] Bellamy is an outstanding tailback.”

Wassink is one of the most efficient passers in the FBS, as he now ranks sixth among active quarterbacks in career passing efficiency at 152.43. A few of the names he sits below are Tua Tagovailoa, Jake Fromm and Trevor Lawrence. 

There are some big targets on the offense that Wassink loves to target. Dashon Bussel, a 6-foot-2 redshirt freshman wide receiver, had five catches against Monmouth for 116 yards. Meanwhile, Giovanni Ricci, a 6-foot-3, 240 pound senior tight end seems to be Wassink’s go-to man near the end zone. Ricci caught five balls last week for 97 yards, including two touchdowns.

“I think they have a very good football team based on last week and what everybody is seeing coming out of the MAC conference,” Dantonio said.

Brian Lewerke/Photo: MSU Athletic Communications

The Michigan State offense still probably has the most to prove going into this Saturday. The Spartans’ offense was able to move the ball well last Friday against Tulsa. Senior quarterback Brian Lewerke threw for 192 yards and a touchdown, and was also able to rush for 34 yards. As a team, Michigan State rushed for 108 yards.

However, the Spartan offense fizzled out after halftime, only scoring a field goal off of Matt Coghlin’s leg. 

“You gotta play with effort and toughness and too much of that, to me, was lacking,” Dantonio said. “And I’m going to call it as I see it up here right now, so we are going to send a message to our football team. And we got a long season ahead of us and we can play much better than that.”

The one thing that constantly hurt Michigan State against Tulsa was the penalties. Michigan State was flagged 14 times for a total of 122 yards.

Matt Coghlin/Photo: MSU Athletic Communications

“Got some things to clean up on offense, too many mistakes,” Dantonio said. “Too many situations where we start in the hole right off the bat whether its a holding call or offsides call.”

Along with cleaning up penalties, going into this week and for the rest of the season, Dantonio had a message for his team.

“Football is a game of effort, toughness and knowing what to do,” Dantonio said. “And half of our team figured that out, half of it didn’t. We will make sure that other half gets figured out this week.”

Injury updates:

Senior offensive tackle Cole Chewins – Doubtful

“Cole needs to practice full go before he can play and he’s sort of in and out.” 

Senior long snapper Ryan Armour – Out 

“We lost Ryan Armour for the year so he is out it’s a tough injury but he’s recovered mentally from it he’ll have to have surgery.”

Freshman running back Anthony Williams – Questionable

“He may be able to play this weekend he may not be, just depends on how this week goes.”

Contact Luke Saccone at sacconel@msu.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @luke_saccone4.