Preview 2019: Previewing and looking ahead to the Michigan State Spartans season with what you need to know.
– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
– Top Players | Key Players, Games, Stats
– What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
– Recruiting Class Analysis | Schedule Analysis
– Michigan State Previews 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015
2018 Record: 7-6 overall, 5-4 in Big Ten
Head Coach: Mark Dantonio, 13th year, 107-51
5. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE MICHIGAN STATE OFFENSE
– It can’t/won’t/better not be worse. The offense wasted a College Football Playoff level effort from the defensive side with a season that got worse as it went on. The Spartans managed 14 points or fewer in six of the 13 games, and scored just six in three of the last four. The Big Ten’s second-worst attack averaged 342 yards and 18.7 points per game, all while the D allowed 21 points or fewer ten times.
In a case of the-food-is-bad-but-the-portions-are-huge, there’s a lot of work to do, but nine starters are back.
– The running game never got going. LJ Scott was only part of the fun for five games, and now he’s pushing for an NFL job. 236-pound junior Connor Heyward was okay – running for 529 yards and five scores as the team’s leading rusher – and he can handle the work if he gets room.
There’s depth – 227-pound La’Darius Jefferson and 202-pound Weston Bridges are sophomores – but no matter what, the ground game can’t average 3.5 yards per carry and be so consistently inept.
– The line wasn’t great, but it wasn’t awful in pass protection, and the coaching staff had to patch things together through a slew of injuries. There’s a shot this group turns into a major plus if everyone stays in one piece. All five starters from the bowl game are back, there’s promising depth, and there’s young talent in star recruits Devontae Dobbs and Spencer Brown. Speaking of injuries …
– The Spartan receiving corps was never able to rely on a consistent starting group. Felton Davis was out for the year midway through the season – now he’s done – and leading yardage guy Cody White missed a chunk of time in the middle of the season. This is a big corps with the 6-3 White catching 42 passes for 555 yards, and 6-2 Darrell Stewart making 45 grabs. Junior TE Matt Dotson is a nice target who should come up with at least 30 grabs, but …
– It’s all about the quarterback play. The line will be fine and the skill players are good enough. Now the quarterbacks have to be at least decent after Brian Lewerke – who wasn’t healthy for a bulk of last season – struggled way too much, and backup Rocky Lombardi was … interesting.
Great in the win over Purdue, Lombardi was a disaster against Nebraska and Rutgers. At least there’s experience at the No. 2 spot, and Lewerke should be far better now that his banged up shoulder is okay.