Pregame Intel: Michigan State Spartans

It sounds familiar? Another Stellar offense and inconsistent defense? That's not only NU, that's what some media folks in Michigan say about this week's opponent, Michigan State, so maybe this game comes down to both team's Pass Defense? Hmmmm...

Once again, MSU Coach John L. Smith is having to tell his team to turn it up...
This is the third week that the MSU coach feels the need to try to maintain the same intensity demanded for the two earlier losses to Michigan and Ohio State.
"I think we have to demand it again," Smith said [in m-live]. "We have to approach every game in this darn league the same way. None of them are easy.
But is that possible? The Loss to OSU last week makes this weekend's win over NU a virtual requirement if the Spartans expect to remain in the Big 10 race:
"We have very little margin for error," Smith said. "That's why this one last week ... it rips your heart out, almost."

So what will be the big story of NU-MSU?

The MSU offense tearing apart the NU defense as some would have you believe? Or will it be the other way around?

The Spartan Defense is already on record as planning to ambush NU running back Tyrell Sutton, you'll find those quotes in the Chicago media, but what you don't see outside of East Lansing are the concerns over just how tough things are back in the MSU defensive secondary.

Smith says he isn't in a position to make big defensive changes, notably to the struggling cornerback core of senior Jaren Hayes, senior Ashton Watson and junior Demond Williams.
"Some people say the hardest thing in sports to do is to hit a baseball," Chuck Driesbach, MSU's Secondary Coach said [m-live.com]. "I think the hardest thing in sports to do is play corner. You're going against the fastest athletes on the football field (wide receivers) and they know right where they're running.

"They're lined up forward, we're lined up backwards. We're not allowed to touch them, for the most part. And when the ball's thrown in the air, they see it and we've got to turn and find it. It's an extremely tough position to play."

At times, it seems MSU's cobbled-together secondary isn't entered in a fair match even if there are 3 of them.

"You're playing three guys right now," he said. "And three will continue to play. If we felt that there were a guy better, we would be playing him."

The senior, Hayes was singled out in Saturday's 35-24 loss on Ohio State's long scores because of missed tackles that led to big plays and points for the opposition. Smith said that despite the mistakes, Hayes made progress.

"(Hayes) played almost — had he made a couple more tackles — as good a game as he has played," he said. "He made some plays. He played better. (He's) still got to be more consistent and not give up the big one."

Their most experienced corner, Ahston Watson has been playing with pain, dealing with Achilles tendinitis since the beginning of the season.

Injury Update:

Senior offensive lineman Stefon Wheeler is likely to play in Saturday's game against Northwestern, Smith said.

Wheeler, who left the Ohio State game in the first half because of a rib injury, was back in practice yesterday after X-rays came back negative.

Sophomore cornerback Irving Campbell, who was expected to be back last week, has shown little progress. No timetable is set for Campbell's return.

Statistically
The Spartans score an average of nearly 42 points per game, while the Wildcats average 35, but really in everything else its a dead heat.

What the Cats have to do
  • Play better defense than MSU - yeah its a stock saying, but in this case, if we're just one point better...
  • Keep the ball in Baz and Sutton's hands - hey they can't score if we've got the ball, right?
  • Don't let the Spartans start running -
  • Turnovers - NU has to improve on the 1 per game average

In Conclusion

Don't know why, but I think this game is won with a short passing game, something that Baz is great at playing.

It has the potential to be another 51-50 game, but the NU defense has been getting a little bit better every week, and we've had the two big wins to help the confidence.

The Game is on ESPN 2 with Chat Room favorite Pam Ward and David Norrie starting at 11:00 AM [Wildcat Time] and will also be on WGN and WNUR

Dave Eanet and Ted Albrecht are the radio guys.

We'll be chatting at the same spot


You can send your comments or "back door" information
to Coach Roy

Go Cats
Beat 'em All!
Talk about it on the Purple Boards
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Copyright 2005 by PurpleWildcats.com/Purple Reign

Purple Wildcats Top Stories

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