No big plays for Coleman
Michigan State did a good job against Coleman last season, except for a 64-yard touchdown run early in the game. The talented running back has taken his game to an even higher level this season as he leads the nation in rushing yards per game. It is a similar tale to the Spartans facing Ameer Abdullah with Nebraska earlier in the season: Take the running back out of the game and force the Hoosiers to throw the ball and win through the air.
Own the fourth quarter
The Spartans have been outscored 33-7 in fourth quarters in Big Ten play. Simply put, that is not getting the job done. The focus last week was doing better in the fourth quarter and it did not happen. Is it a lack of focus? Is it a lack of playing a full game early in the season for the starters? It is hard to tell at this point, but the Spartans need to clean up the late game situations and close out games. As Darian Hicks said earlier this week, Michigan State has to make teams quit.
Get more defensive ends snaps
The Spartans have relied heavily upon Marcus Rush and Shilique Calhoun so far this year in games that were not blowouts. The pair played almost exclusively against Nebraska and extensively against Purdue. It is nice to have a pair of guys that can do that, but Michigan State needs more from Demetrius Cooper. It is entirely possible that MSU will be replacing both defensive ends after the season, but it also needs to ensure Rush and Calhoun don’t wear down.
Expect the unexpected and adjust
With the strong reputation of the Michigan State defense comes getting teams’ best shots as well as seeing new looks early in the game. Last year, Indiana exploded out of the game with a 64-yard touchdown run by Tevin Coleman – the longest play MSU allowed last year. With a new quarterback, surely Indiana will look to come out with some surprising offense early.
Run the ball again
Michigan State is coming off probably its best rushing performance, going for 294 yards last week. Putting up almost 300 yards on a Big Ten team is an impressive feat and it was a credit to the run blocking as much as anything. It was the best run blocking for the Spartans this season, as the offensive line has been really good in pass protection but needed to improve in run blocking. The return of Connor Kruse certainly has helped that situation.
Last week, Harris was the hero late, but he was the target by Purdue on bubble screens early. Indiana likely will run some similar looks with Shane Wynn and try to use its speed to find some success against the Spartans.
The senior safety has not been playing his best football of late, but with the amount of times Indiana will spread Michigan State out and force safeties to make plays in space and cover, Drummond will need to be on his game.
These two have come on strong lately for the Spartans in the middle of the defense. This Saturday, in the middle they will need to be solid to stop the run, being gap sound at the point of attack to stop Tevin Coleman.
Cook had less than stellar and less than standard showings the past two weeks. He needs to get things going as his play is huge for the Spartans to continue being an explosive offense as they have been for much of this season.