As Spartan Digest begins getting ready for the 2015 edition of the Michigan State Spartans football team, we start looking at possible areas of decline on the field the Spartans will have to address if they hope to be part of the college football playoffs.
No. 1: Rushing Attack
Last season the Spartans averaged 235.2 yards per game with an average yards per rush coming in at 5.1 yards per carry. Overall the Spartans posted 3,057 net yards rushing on the season with 44 rushing touchdowns. With Jeremy Langford gone and the future of Delton Williams still in the air, Spartan Digest feels it could be extremely hard for the Spartans to match their output from 2014.
No. 2: Time Of Possession
With the rushing attack having an uncertain future it should be no surprise we target time of possession. Last season the Spartans did a great job of having the ball for just over 35 minutes per game. With more pressure on the passing game we would not be surprised the Spartans see a dip in this key area of the game.
No. 3: 3rd / 4th Down Conversion
See a trend here? Yes, a drop in converting third and fourth downs could drop at a sharp rate. Last season the Spartans converted fifty percent of third down tries along with a whopping fifty-three percent of their fourth down conversions. Those are extremely high rates to begin with let along for a team looking to find a running game.
No. 4: Darian Hicks
Entering last season many felt Hicks was set to be a long term starter at field corner. After starting the first ten games and playing in 27 career games, Hicks could see his production impacted by the emergence of redshirt freshman Vayante Copeland. Having posted 30 tackles in his career, Hicks could see his production hurt as many feel Copeland has the skill set to be another in a growing line of Spartan defensive backs to take their game to another level and push Hicks to the sidelines this fall making the Solon, Ohio native more of a role player on the Spartans defense.
No. 5: Give Aways
Last season the Spartans fumbled 13 times giving away six of them. While the defense will get it's share of turnovers, 2015 could be a season where Spartan fans see the offense give the ball up a few more times with young running backs looking to prove themselves and a inexperienced receiving corp.