The Michigan State Spartans watched from home this past weekend as most teams across the country played the second game of their season. With an extra week of prep for Notre Dame, Spartan Digest has five questions worth asking as the Spartans get into full workload for an early major road test against the Irish.
Did A Week Off Help Or Hurt?
The first question has to be how good did the Spartans feel following a struggling win over a Football Championship Subdivision foe like Furman? I’m sure Mark Dantonio and his staff used the lack luster performance during the bye week to push this team like they had during the dog days of preseason camp. However, the saying has always been a team improves the most in their second game. While the placement of the bye week may not have been what is best for the long term success of this squad, the chance to get a few guys back from injury and to have game film from two Irish games has to be looked upon as a positive.
Can The Spartans Clean It Up?
For the Spartans to leave South Bend with a victory they must clean up their act. Coming off a 10 penalty performance against Furman with a total of 120 negative yards assessed cannot be repeated. The last time the Spartans were hit so hard by the refs was in 2014 against Ohio State. We all remember what happened in that game as the Spartans fell 37-49 to the Buckeyes.
Will The Defensive Line Step Forward?
All the talk has been about future NFL player Malik McDowell. While we know what we get with Demetrius Cooper, there are many questions left to be answered as the Spartans did not put in an impressive performance in their season opener. Who steps up next to McDowell and Cooper is still a work in progress. Freshman Mike Panasiuk got reps inside and new grad transfers Kevin Williams and Gabe Sherrod got their share of reps along with Raequan Williams. Now the group needs to start making plays and help fill gaps allowing the linebackers to penetrate and make plays.
How Healthy Are The Spartans?
The last time we watched the Spartans Jon Reschke (thumb) was not on the field for any snaps against Furman and receivers Felton Davis III and R.J. Shelton left the game with what Mark Dantonio said in his post-game presser as minor injuries. Having all three of these Spartans fully healthy for the Irish would seem to be extremely important in the grand scheme of things.
What Role Will Ed Davis Play?
Davis has been cleared by the NCAA for a sixth season of eligibility and should be ready to go as he’s been practicing with the team. The bye week should have helped Davis build towards his return against the Irish being a grand one. However, there has been talk that Davis could be looked upon to help the Spartans defensive front coming off the edge as a defensive end instead of from his linebacker spot. Davis, who is listed at 6-foot-2, 237-pounds could create match-up problems for bigger offensive tackles. This would not be the first time the Spartans under Dantonio have used an undersized player in such a role as former Spartan Marcus Rush played off the edge at 242-pounds.