Preview 2017: Can Michigan State Find IT Again?

Preview 2017: Can Michigan State Find IT Again?

Teams & Conferences

Preview 2017: Can Michigan State Find IT Again?

Preview 2017: Can The Spartans Find IT Again?


After a magical run and a dismal collapse, can Michigan State be special again?


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2017 Michigan State Preview: What You Need To Know
2017 Michigan State Schedule & Analysis
– Michigan State Previews: 2016 | 2015

What went wrong? How does a rising superpower go from being one win away from playing for a national title, to being among the worst teams in college football?

Sometimes, a team just doesn’t have it.

Oh sure, Michigan State went from winning a Big Ten championship and going to the College Football Playoff, to a 3-9 season that was every bit as miserable as the record for a variety of reasons. But really, there just wasn’t any magic, chemistry, momentum, or any other cliche/coachspeak words you want to throw out there.

The offensive line wasn’t as good. The pass rush was non-existent. The offense couldn’t score touchdowns in the red zone, the turnover margin was a disaster, the D lost its star defensive tackle midway through, and there were more penalties than normal.

And there wasn’t a miraculous blocked punt for a touchdown against Michigan.

There were inexcusable losses to miserable teams – Illinois and Maryland – and the team ran into a few buzzsaw moments – Penn State and Wisconsin – against the elite of the elite.

And there wasn’t that one play needed late to get by Ohio State in a 17-16 loss, after the team pitched a gem in a 17-14 win over the Buckeyes two years ago.

Close games were a problem. The Spartans lost to Indiana in overtime, couldn’t keep up against Northwestern late, lost to Illinois by four, fell flat against Michigan in the fourth in a game that could’ve gone either way, and almost knocked Ohio State out of the College Football Playoff chase.

The 2015 team went 6-1 in games decided by seven points or fewer.

There’s a reason coaches gush about senior/veteran classes that accomplished big things, and the one that graduated before last season was one of the best in school history. Veteran teams create their own breaks. Rebuilding teams tend to have a hard time with that.

It’s not easy to create the right atmosphere, the right environment, and the right make-up for success. You don’t just manufacture it, and, apparently, it was asking a whole lot for last year’s team to try repeating what the previous ones created.

So now what? In hindsight, yeah, the teams that accomplished so much and was so good from 2011 to 2015 might have had a few horseshoes in their pockets, and they might have had the right blend to forge a few epic comebacks and classic plays in key moments, but they also found ways to grind out games here and there and win because they were just that good.

This year’s team has talent. It has experience. It has the ability to turn this around in a hurry with just a few tweaks and a little positive momentum that some of the teams from the previous years had. But 2016 was so bad and so horrible that it might take more than just a little pixie dust to be back in the Big Ten championship mix.

And it’ll take dealing with the off-field problems and a sexual assault case that dominated the offseason and might continue to be part of the headlines going into the season.

To be crass and put the controversy into a football perspective – obviously the off-field situation is more important than wins and losses, and there will be much more on this throughout the summer – the coaching staff hasn’t been able to come up with a rotation or depth chart at several positions until there’s a definitive answer on who’s suspended, who’s kicked off the team, and who’s going to be back and ready to go this fall.

That’s not exactly helpful for a team that needs to get better at several positions.

The running game should be great as long as some key replacements are found early on up front. The quarterback situation doesn’t appear to be a problem, and there’s speed and talent at receiver. Now the Spartans have to figure out how to score again on a regular basis.

The defense that’s been so pedestrian over the last few seasons had to figure out how to get to the quarterback. The secondary needs work and the line has to be more consistent, but the linebacking corps should be a major positive.

Dantonio didn’t all of a sudden become bad at coaching. The overall talent didn’t drop off the map, and the team was just competitive enough at times to offer a glimmer of hope that things can quickly rebound.

But only if the Spartans can find it. Or just take it away from Penn State.

2017 Michigan State Preview: What You Need To Know
2017 Michigan State Schedule & Analysis
– Michigan State Previews: 2016 | 2015

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