Five Takeaways: YSU edition

What did we learn in the Spartans' win against Youngstown State? A lot about the offense.

1. Connor Cook is the starter at quarterback next week.

Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said after the game emphatically that "Connor Cook is the number one quarterback." When asked if the competition is still going, Dantonio said, "No. He is the number one guy." Does that mean Cook locked it up for the season? Not necessarily, but is his job to lose at this point.

Cook was 15 of 22 passing for 202 yards and four touchdowns against Youngstown State.

2. Work might be paying off for the WRs

A group that had just five catches against South Florida last week really showed up against the Penguins.

MacGarrett Kings Jr. again led the way, with four catches for 61 yards and a touchdown, but it was the rest of the group that was different this Saturday.

Tony Lippett, who had no catches yet this season, had four for 41 yards – including a great catch on third down in the fourth quarter. Bennie Fowler, who lost his starting spot after a rough opener against Western Michigan, had two catches on the same drive for 39 yards. The second catch was a 17-yard touchdown, which consisted of breaking through a couple tackles.

Andre Sims Jr. also got in the mix with a 13-yard touchdown reception.

3. The running backs are the backbone of the offense.

Each week thus far, the running backs have been the lone way for the Spartans to move the ball. While the passing game got its attention – and deservedly so – in this win, the running game was the foundation. Riley Bullough, Nick Hill and Jeremy Langford combined for 185 yards on 34 carries. The total ground attack generated 277 yards on 49 carries.

4. The offense can get a little bit creative.

The offensive play calling had left something to be desired after the first two games of the season, but showed some flair and different looks against YSU.

The highlight was a double-play action by Cook, who faked it to the running back and to the wide receiver in motion before turning and throwing to a wide-open Trevor Pendleton for a 12-yard touchdown.

While not creative, the call to go to the air to Kings following Shilique Calhoun's fumble recovery was a great decision. A real gut punch to score on the first play after a turnover.

R.J. Shelton against to the ball on a reverse, as did Bennie Fowler. Shelton went for 18 yards, while Fowler gained 17. Those plays to get the ball to the perimeter were important and will continue to be so.

5. Other needs to get a look at punt returner

Sims has had some nice returns in the first three games, including a 23-yard return which was crucial to the first touchdown and great field position. He fumbled later in the game, though – his second in two games. Those turnovers could be crippling to the Spartans in Big Ten play. Kings showed he can make some things happen in the return game on his one attempt and was prolific in that sense in high school.

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