Kevin Wilson and his Indiana football team will be looking to bounce back from their first loss of the season when they host Michigan State tomorrow night at Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is set for 8:00 EDT and the game will be televised on the Big Ten Network. Peegs.com caught up with Dave Berk from Spartan Digest to get the latest on an MSU team team that comes in with a 2-1 record overall and 0-1 in the Big Ten.
1) The MSU offense has had their fair share of struggles this season. What have been the main issues? How has QB Tyler O'Connor done taking over for Connor Cook?
The game against Notre Dame saw the Spartans at their best as they hit key passes while using their strong running game. Wisconsin stopped the run game and put pressure on O’Connor sacking him four times. The Spartans will struggle if O’Connor is made to be the only playmaker.
Overall, O’Connor has done a solid job with his leadership abilities. This team will work and fight for him. However, keep in mind he entered the season with limited snaps during his career and that showed against Wisconsin.
O’Connor has the tools to manage the offense if the run game is working. Has a good enough arm, but not a cannon and at times will rush his throws.
2) Besides O'Connor who are the other names to know on the MSU offense? Who are the top play-makers on that side of the ball?
Brian Allen is the leader of the offensive line and is capable of playing both guard and center. The Spartans are loaded at running back with three backs that can all be starters. L.J. Scott brings the power and Gerald Holmes has shown the ability to break a big one. But watch for Madre London if he’s given carries as he can combine the two. Senior receiver Monty Madaris is having his best year so far and tight end Josiah Price continues to catch touchdowns.
3) Michigan State has traditionally been a very good defensive unit under Mark Dantonio. Talk about that unit this season and what are their strengths and weaknesses after three games. When teams have been able to move the ball what has been the formula? What is the best way to attack them?
The Spartans still do a great job stopping the run. However, it’s been the underneath passing game that has caused this defense fits as both Notre Dame and Wisconsin was able to find guys in pockets between the linebackers and secondary. Indiana is a team that can cause match-up issues with their passing game and it could be a long night if the Spartans can’t put pressure on the quarterback.
4) Who are the names to know on the defensive side of the ball? What players need to play well for the Spartans to have a good day defensively?
It’s starts up front with Malik McDowell and Demetrius Cooper. Both players can cause havoc for offensive lines with McDowell looking like a sure fire first-round draft selection in the next draft if he chooses. Starting linebacker Jon Reschke is out for this game and many expect Riley Bullough will also miss the game. So keep an eye Andrew Dowell and Chris Frey as they both fly to the ball. The next star in the making in the secondary is Vayante Copeland.
5) Special teams are always a big part of any game. What do you expect to see from that unit for the Spartans? Who are the names to know there?
Kicker Michael Geiger has won games during his career and punter Jake Hartbarger has a strong leg. The return game is nothing special to talk about and Spartan fans have expressed their concerns. R.J. Shelton is steady but quick to call for the fair catch. Many feel Darrell Stewart has the ability in the kickoff return game to make a big play but we’ve yet to see it.