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Michigan State had their confidence shaken after a 29-27 upset loss at the hands of Mid American conference foe Central Michigan. Several Spartans admitted they expected to win the game and were surprised at how poorly they played.
Some said there was a lack of emotion, other couldn't put their finger on what went wrong, so Spartan captains Blair White, Greg Jones, Kirk Cousins called a "players only meeting", but Cousins cautioned not to read too much into the meeting, that it was designed to get everyone on the same page.
While the meeting might be a good step, Michigan State's first two games have revealed some weaknesses that are going to affect their season if they don't fix them and some strengths that they will no doubt rely on heading into South Bend this weekend.
The Spartans offensive line has been unable to sustain a push in the run game. MSU rushed for only 101 yards against Central Michigan after piling up 175 yards against FCS opponent Montana State.
"We have to start playing with more intensity, we've got to finish on our guys, we've got to stay on our guys and start blocking and give the back a two-way go. I know the running game isn't where we want it now and we've got to find something that works."
The Spartans defensive line hasn't been able to sustain pressure at key junctures and although they have six sacks on the season, CMU's Dan LeFevour was able to pick apart the Spartans secondary without much pressure completing 34-of-47 for 352 yards and three touchdowns against just one interception.
MSU has had some problems covering kick returns.
Michigan State's quarterback situation is in great hands with two young quarterbacks capable of running the full playbook for the Spartans. Expect Kirk Cousins to emerge as the true starter and Keith Nichol, who has played in both games so far, to fade a little to the background following an unexpected loss.
Wide receivers B.J. Cunningham, Mark Dell, Keshawn Martin and Blair White give MSU a formidable set of hands while freshman Dion Sims could emerge as a true star at the tight end position but for now plays behind starter Charlie Gantt and Brian Linthicum.
MSU's linebacking corp is one of the best in the country with Big Ten preseason player of the year Greg Jones the team's leading tackler. Jones has nearly doubled - with 29 tackles in two games, the next leading tackler (safety Marcus Hyde with 15) on the squad.
The Spartans have depth in the secondary and while there were a few plays made against MSU's corners, mostly the lack of pressure on the quarterback is the problem.
The Spartans desperately need a win in South Bend in a murderous three-game stretch after an unexpected loss last Saturday. MSU travels to South Bend and then to Madison, WI to face Wisconsin before coming home to face an angry and resurgent Michigan team that wants to reclaim state bragging rights.
Look for MSU to give their best effort of the season in an attempt to rebound and regain a measure of respect after a stunning loss.