Every Thursday at AllHoosiers.com we will have a scouting report on the team that Indiana will face that week in the form of a Q&A with a beat writer from that team.
For Saturday’s seventh game of the season against Michigan State, Mike Wilson, site publisher of the Michigan State Scout.com site, has graciously accepted my invitation to talk about the Spartans by answering the following five questions.
Here is our seventh Scouting the Opponent Q&A with an opposing beat writer.
1. One thing I remember about last year's game is that Tevin Coleman had a 64-yard TD run early but after that Michigan State completely shut down the run. My guess is with Nate Sudfeld out for the year that the Spartans will just load the box and dare IU to beat them somehow other than with Coleman running wild. Is that how you see the matchup, too?
WILSON:“I do see it that way, especially since Michigan State always wants to operate its defense to take away the run. I think Michigan State will challenge IU to try and beat them with someone other than Coleman, which is easier said than done. Michigan State did a very good job of that last year after Coleman’s long touchdown run, though, holding him to around a yard per carry the rest of the game.’’
2. How would you compare this Michigan State team to teams in the recent past for the Spartans? Where are they good and are there still some areas of question?
WILSON:“It is a different team than last year, certainly, and harkens more back to a 2011-type team for the Spartans. That was a team that could score a lot of points and really spread the ball around to a lot of different weapons, but also played good defense. Right now, the strength for the Spartans is the offense, which features a lot of guys who are making plays. That starts with quarterback Connor Cook, wide receiver Tony Lippett and running back Jeremy Langford. Defensively, it is a group that is not as elite as last year’s was, but that is a lot to live up to. The front seven has been playing well of late, especially against Nebraska and Ameer Abdullah.’’
3. Talk about the Connor Cook to Tony Lippett connection and just how Cook has looked this season to this point? He has some pretty solid numbers?
WILSON: “Cook was outstanding through much of the nonconference season, spare the second half at Oregon. He has not been quite the same through the first couple of Big Ten games, with a completion percentage around 50 percent. He has made more mistakes and not been as consistent. But he is still making some NFL-level throws and commanding the offense well. Lippett and Cook already have eight touchdowns this year, which puts Lippett in the lead nationally. He has caught a touchdown in eight straight games – a streak dating back to last year against Ohio State in the Big Ten title game.’’
4. There is a lot of unknown this game it seems with Indiana’s quarterback situation. Do you think it is a big deal that Michigan State will know next to nothing about the IU quarterback?
WILSON: “It definitely is an intriguing element to prepare for an unknown, but I think Michigan State is pretty well prepared after facing Purdue with Austin Appleby last week. Appleby was pretty new and there was not a lot of film on him either. He did some good things in the first half, but was not as effective in the second. I expect a similar pattern Saturday as I am sure Indiana will come out with some new wrinkles and looks to try and see what it can do early and test the waters with a new look.’’
5. Finally, we always ask for opposing publishers and beat writers to weigh in with their game prediction. Myself I'm expecting a Michigan State blowout. How do you think this one will play out?
WILSON: “I would agree. I think the loss of Sudfeld makes this really tough for Indiana. Michigan State’s goal defensively is to make a team one-dimensional and that injury basically does that already – to an extent. Shane Wynn obviously will be a player that can do some good things against MSU on bubble screens and such, but I do think Michigan State has too much offensive firepower now and will score too much for Indiana to overcome.’’
EDITOR’S NOTE: In his prediction column Thursday on Hawkeye Insider.com, Howe predicted Iowa would win the game, 27-23.
Again, thanks to Mike Wilson for sharing his expertise today with us at AllHoosiers.com.Depth Chart: Diamont listed as No. 2 quarterback
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