Michigan State Spartans: CFN College Football Preview 2021

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State Spartans: CFN College Football Preview 2021

2021 Preview

Michigan State Spartans: CFN College Football Preview 2021

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College Football News Preview 2021: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Michigan State football season with what you need to know.


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– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Michigan State Schedule Analysis
– Michigan State Spartans Previews
2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015

2020 Record: 2-5 overall, 2-5 in Big Ten
Head Coach: Mel Tucker, 2nd year, 2-5 (7-12 overall)
2020 CFN Final Ranking: 40
2020 CFN Preview Ranking: 57
2019 CFN Final Ranking: 57

Michigan State Spartans College Football Preview 2021: Offense

Well that didn’t work. It’s been a while since Michigan State did much of anything interesting offensively, and the first season under head coach Mel Tucker and offensive coordinator Jay Johnson didn’t do much to change that.

To be very, very fair, the Spartans and the new coaching staff didn’t have any time to work like normal, and there was a whole lot that had to be changed after a rough 2019, and a rough 2018, and after scoring fewer than 300 points in three of the previous four seasons.

The 2020 Spartans were dead last in the Big Ten in yards and scoring, averaging 330 yards and 18 points per game, but for good or for bad, everyone is back except at …

Quarterback. Rocky Lombardi threw a whole lot of interceptions – 11 over the last two years for a passing game that gave up 41 over the last three seasons; more on that later – and now he’ll be taking his talents to Northern Illinois.

In comes Anthony Russo from Temple who also throws a lot of interceptions. However, he’s a big pro style passer who can push the ball deep. He’ll have to fight off veteran backup Payton Thorne – who threw three touchdowns and three picks – for the gig.

On the plus side, the receiving corps should be solid. Jayden Reed and Jalen Nailor are 6-0, 185-pound juniors who can move. Nailor averaged close to 20 yards per catch, Reed led the team with 33 catches, and Ricky White averaged 22 yards on his ten grabs. The pass catchers are there – that includes the underutilized tight ends.

The offense line struggled. It didn’t do much for the running game and had a hard time keeping defenses out of the backfield. However, there’s good size, plenty of options, and all five starters are expected to  be back.

The running back situation got better with the addition of Kenneth Walker from Wake Forest – a 1,000-yard back who ran for 13 touchdowns last season – along with 231-pound blaster Harold Joiner from Auburn.

The combination of Jordon Simmons, Connor Heyward and Elijah Collins also returns, but they only combined for 509 yards last year and ran for as many touchdowns as you did. There’s talent, though – Collins had a great 2019 and the rest of the backs would be fine with better blocking.

– What You Need To Know: Defense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Michigan State Schedule Analysis

NEXT: Michigan State Spartans College Football Preview 2021: Defense

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