With a 64-yard burst, the Hoosiers star running back accounted for the longest play against the Spartans’ celebrated defense. While the Spartans contained him to just 15 yards on his next 14 carries, that big play put the notice out there that Coleman is the real deal – something he has just continued to prove this season.
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said the numbers Coleman, the nation’s leading rusher, is posting are “staggering.”
"He's a more complete running back," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. "You see him running through tackles and your objective is to shut him down. I think he's obviously one of the keys to victory for us. Very good player."
Coleman is averaging 176.7 yards per game through the season’s first six games with an average of 8.83 yards per carry. He is coming off a 219-yard, three-touchdown performance in a loss to Iowa last weekend.
Naturally, linebacker Riley Bullough said the Spartans’ defense is focused on stopping Coleman.
“He is a great back, really shifty, really fast,” he said. “We definitely have to watch him and we are going to have to come up with ways to stop him. We have proved we have done it in the past and I think we will be ready to do it again this weekend.”
The Spartans already had the challenge of stopping Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah earlier this season. The Huskers standout back entered the meeting with MSU with 166.6 yards per game before being held to 45 yards on 24 carries.
”He is a good back just like Abdullah, so we have to be sound in the things we do,” linebacker Taiwan Jones said. “We have to do our responsibilities and close our gaps just like we did against Nebraska.”
Defensive end Shilique Calhoun said it will come down to Michigan State’s defense doing its job, but it enjoys the challenge presented by backs like Abdullah and Coleman.
”Guys are going to put us to the test,” he said. “That’s how we look at it is another challenge and we respect their offense completely and you’ve got this premier back, so what are we going to do about it? Are we going to stop him or let him run? It just comes back to how we feel about the game and how we execute.”
The game plan will focus on not allowing Coleman to break out for big runs, which has been his forte since the start of last season.
The Spartans, after all, learned quickly last year just how explosive he can be, so they will work to prevent a similar breakout run.
“We watched it and we know what adjustment to make that we didn’t make last year, so now we know what to do and we can take care of that play,” he said.