Five Takeaways: JSU Edition

The offense showed a little, but not a lot and more things that stood out Friday night as we take a look at what we learned about the Spartans.

1. Michigan State’s offense was good, but reserved

Michigan State put on an offensive clinic. There was no doubt about that, but the Spartans also kept it pretty simple. The most variety shown were jet sweeps to Aaron Burbridge and R.J. Shelton. Now, this is not a knock on the performance, but I expect Michigan State’s offense has a lot more to do this season than what it showed Friday night in beating Jacksonville State 45-7 – and if it can be that effective with basic offensive plays and packages, I am curious what it will do when it starts unveiling more.

2. Offensive line depth is an issue with Connor Kruse

The Spartans only really played a rotation of six offensive linemen, with Brian Allen being the lone guy in the rotation outside of the starters. That is a concern for Michigan State because a strength last season was the ability to wear opposing teams down through playing so many offensive linemen. Is Miguel Machado a possible answer? He did not play and the plan seems to be to redshirt him, but there needs to be a seventh guy in that rotation. Maybe Kruse will be back soon and that will help alleviate the need.

3. The defense is really, really fast

Michigan State might have lost a lot of defensive talent, but it returned a lot of speed. Seeing linebackers Riley Bullough, Ed Davis and Darien Harris in on a third-down set was very impressive. It is not a huge difference from last year, as players still swarm the ball and flock to it and gang tackle, but this group seems to fly around the field a little bit faster. That is a scary thought, assuming other facets such as experience and knowledge catch up.

4. Good freshman class? Good freshman class

There is not a lot of need for Michigan State to play true freshmen right now, but the Spartans rolled six of them out Friday night – and five on defense. Will all of those players continue to play? Probably not. But what they showed Friday was a readiness and a clear talent. Malik McDowell and Craig Evans are forces in the middle, while Montez Sweat recorded a sack. Montae Nicholson and Chris Frey both trotted out on special teams and recorded tackles – Frey with some on defense, too. It speaks a lot about the players the Spartans brought in during the 2014 recruiting cycle.

5. Health could derail this team

Michigan State went through most of last year with little to no injuries. Isaiah Lewis missed some time as did Travis Jackson, but it was minimal. The Spartans already lost Kruse and saw Connor Cook, Jeremy Langford, MacGarrett Kings and Jackson helped off the field at various points. While Cook came back, the other three did not. Langford and Jackson are very much necessary to the success of this team and the Spartans need guys like that on the field if they want to have the type of year they are expecting.

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