1. The Michigan State defensive line needs to get more pressure without blitzes
The Spartans got some hits on Tommy Rees, but did not have a sack and given Rees' lack of mobility, that is a major issue. Rees often had all day to throw downfield, which allowed him to throw the ball up and get some pass interference calls – which also can come the longer a DB is in one-on-one coverage.
2. Play calling flipped the game
The Spartans play calling again hurt the Spartans. Going to a reverse pass for true freshman R.J. Shelton is one of the worst calls in a while. The team was moving the ball on the ground and driving downfield with the offensive line dominating, so going into the bag of tricks didn't make sense. Let alone to a true freshman on a big stage. Tony Lippett played quarterback in high school. If you are going to run that play, Lippett is the guy.
Also, going to the wildcat with Jeremy Langford on the first drive of the third quarter from the Notre Dame 10 was pretty poor. It was another situation where MSU was driving with ease and no need for the change up.
3. Jeremy Langford should be the guy at RB
Mark Dantonio said after the game that he doesn't think Langford can be a 30-carry running back for MSU and that might be the case, but he has shown that he should be getting more carries. MSU moved the ball the most with him in (Nick Hill was in on the touchdown drive, but that was aided by penalties). He brings speed and the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.
4. It is tough to win on the road with a young offense
The offense reverted to its form in the first two games, which were at home, but to bring Connor Cook into his first road start at Notre Dame is tough. The offense looked nervous early, particularly Cook. The lack of execution early, especially not putting up a touchdown after Matt Macksood's blocked punt, was poor and the kind of thing that MSU must do in these close, physical road games.
5. The world didn't end
Last year, MSU was rolled by Notre Dame. It wasn't even a game. 20-3 in East Lansing and it was worse than that score said it was.
This time, MSU probably should have won. A little play here or a little play there, the result looks a lot different. It's tough when penalties go against you so often and your backs are to the wall a lot, but the Spartans did a pretty good job fighting back. It did feel a little bit too much like last year in the failure of the offense to make something happen late as the defense forced three straight three-and-outs in the fourth quarter.
Reality is, MSU lost this one and it was because they beat themselves with drops, penalties and play calling. That is a different feeling than coming in and getting ran over by a team that is clearly superior. Correctable mistakes would be a term Andrew Maxwell would use in this situation. They need to be corrected because they are similar mistakes to last season.
The bye week will be good for MSU to ready for the Big Ten and, hopefully, pull some things together.