2. KEYS TO THE SEASON
Biggest Key To The Michigan State Offense
Complete passes. There were a whole slew of issues for the Spartan offense – the running game went nowhere, there were too many turnovers, scoring points was like pulling teeth – but the reboot starts with merely being able to hit a few more throws.
Accuracy has always been optional when it comes to MSU quarterbacks – the last time the O hit the 60% mark for the season was when Kirk Cousins was slinging it in 2011 – but completing just 51% last year was a killer.
The receiving corps was banged up, and QB Brian Lewerke was hurt, but the offensive problems kicked in once the offense couldn’t convert on third downs, couldn’t move the chains, and couldn’t throw well. The Spartan passing game failed to hit 60% in any of the last nine games, and didn’t even get past 50% in six of them.
Biggest Key To The Michigan State Defense
Be otherworldly on third downs. With a stronger offense, the defense shouldn’t have to carry the team’s fortunes game-in-and-game-out … but it might have to.
The Spartan defense held offense to under a 30% conversion rate an impressive eight times, and mostly had to keep teams to under 25% – going 4-1 when it did – to make things easier.
It’s no coincidence that in the odd 3-9 2016 season, the D allowed teams to convert 42% of the time, and 42% in the 6-7 2009 run … and held teams to under 40% in eight of the last ten seasons.
Key Player To A Successful Season
QB Brian Lewerke, Sr.
THAT can’t happen again.
Lewerke might have been banged up with a shoulder injury, and it might have been a frustrating year overall for the offense, but an eight touchdown pass, 11 interception, wildly inefficient year wasn’t okay.
For a team that just needs something from the passing game, and needs its veteran leader to step up in key moments, the Big Ten title is on the table if the senior can go back to his sophomore year form.
Key Game To The Michigan State Season
at Ohio State, Oct. 5
The Spartans have lost three in a row to the Buckeyes and four of the last five since taking out the Buckeyes in the 2013 Big Ten Championship. Lose this time, and any hopes of winning the East are probably gone in early October.
The trip to Columbus comes after going to Northwestern a few weeks earlier, and right before having to deal with Wisconsin in Camp Randall and Penn State. Oh yeah … and the Spartans have to go to Ann Arbor, too.
– Michigan State Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2018 Michigan State Fun Stats
– 4th Quarter Scoring: Opponents 104 – Michigan State 49
– Rushing Yards Per Game: Michigan State 124.8 – Opponents 77.9
– Time of Possession: Michigan State 32:49 – Opponents 27:11