Have the Michigan State Spartans become a program of entitlement?
Mark Dantonio hinted that some of those who’ve enjoyed the ride the past few years might be in that state of mind. However, you can say that about almost any football program in college football that is transitioning at several positions.
Having dropped the past two games, many are scratching their heads as to where the program is headed the remainder of this season. A loss on Saturday to BYU will only have more questioning what is happening in East Lansing.
Since taking over the Spartans program, Dantonio has only seen two other years where one of his teams lost three consecutive games.
In year one (2007) the Spartans dropped games against Ohio State, Iowa and Michigan in consecutive weekends. By the time the season ended the Spartans finished 7-6 overall and tied for seventh in the Big Ten with a 3-5 conference mark.
Many could excuse what happens in a program first season under a new coach but just two seasons (2009) later the Spartans would struggle early in the season with three losses in the month of September in consecutive weekends against Central Michigan, Notre Dame and Wisconsin.
The Spartans were on the verge of dropping three in 2012 as that group of Spartans remind many of what this year’s team looks like. Twice during that season the Spartans dropped back-to-back games but you could see the foundation building on what would become three great seasons of Spartans football to follow.
Are the Spartans headed to another 7-6 season? Or are they about to turn things around starting with back-to-back home games against BYU and Northwestern?
Here are three things the Spartans must do on Saturday to break their current losing streak and give Spartan Nation hope of brighter things to come the remainder of the season.
STOP COUGARS RUNNING ATTACK
BYU has always been known for their passing attacks and quarterbacks that have posted record setting numbers. However, this year’s Cougars team is the best rushing team the Spartans have faced this season as they average over 200 yards per game on the ground. Jamaal Williams has a 140-yard average per game with 703 net yards and eight rushing touchdowns. Quarterback Taysom Hill can also use his legs having rushed for 228 yards and two scores. With the loss of Malik McDowell for the first half, look for the Cougars to go after the Spartans up front before attacking the Spartans secondary.
THROW THE FOOTBALL
While Mark Dantonio has traditionally looked to pound the ball against all comers. This week he needs to let Tyler O’Connor air it out against a Cougars secondary that has struggled over the past couple of games. While this will also mean the Spartans offensive line must show they can protect O’Connor, being creative in the passing game will help the Spartans offense overall. Let’s be honest here. The Spartans offensive line has major issues and even with flipping guys around is not going to fix what is ailing the overall play of the line. It’s time for Benny McGowan to become a fulltime center so the best of the Spartans offensive linemen, Brian Allen is about to use his athletic ability on the many pulling plays from the guard position.
PLAY MORE YOUNG PLAYERS
Each week we’ve seen an increased number of young Spartans on the field. This is the last non-conference game of the season, so get as many on the field this weekend as they’ll be needed going forward. This is not just one position but across the board. Is the sky falling on the Spartans football program? Hell no!!! There is talent on this roster and redshirts have already been burned. This is especially true along the defensive line with guys like Josh King, Mike Panasiuk and Auston Robertson dressed. Make no mistake, Raequan Williams is going to be out of the BYU game and possibly the Northwestern game. So the time is not to push the young guns forward.