Michigan State Spartans Preview 2022: Offense
The running game and new Seattle Seahawk Kenneth Walker got all of the attention, but this was a good passing attack that blended together nicely.
The O didn’t control the clock considering how good Walker was, and it had to press too often because the defense struggled so much, but everything was fine as long as it was able to get to around 400 yards. When it stalled – particularly the few times when the ground game was stuffed – there were problems.
The transfer portal isn’t going to play the big role on the offensive side like it will for the defense, but …
The Spartans went out and themselves two terrific backs to replace Walker. Kenneth Walker was a good back at Wake Forest before he came to Michigan State. Jarek Broussard was a terrific back for Colorado in 2020 and did what he could in a rough situation in 2021.
Jalen Berger was a super-recruit for Wisconsin who didn’t work out, but the talent is there to blow up in the rotation with Broussard and a few other good backs. Now they need a line to work behind.
There’s some reworking to do with a few key lost starters, and the depth needs to be developed. However. getting guard Brian Greene from Washington State helps, and the left side should be fine with OT Jarrett Horst and OG JD Duplain two experienced vets.
Payton Thorne was under the radar even with a strong 3,233-yard, 27 touchdown season. Walker was the star of the show, but when the offense didn’t have 9 in the backfield for the bowl game, Thorne showed up in the clutch with a season-high 354 yards and three scores. He can move enough to matter, doesn’t make a ton of mistakes, and can get the ball deep.
The running backs should be the stars, but Jayden Reed might be the second-best receiver in the Big Ten behind OSU’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba.
He hit the 1,000-yard mark last year with ten scores averaging over 17 yards per catch, Tre Mosley will be a reliable No. 2, and Illinois transfer Daniel Barker should be an All-Big Ten-caliber tight end. Combine them with a strong recruiting class, and the Spartans are set.
Michigan State Spartans Preview 2022: Defense
The defense has to stop someone from throwing the ball. Mel Tucker made his name as a defensive coach, Scottie Hazelton has been around the defensive assistant block, and there’s talent on the Spartan D. There’s just no excuse to have the worst pass defense in America again.
The run defense was fine, but that’s a statistical anomaly – everyone was too busy throwing it. The Spartans gave up too many first downs, there were way too many penalties, and …
There has to be a fix, but the strangest part about it all is …
The pass rush was a killer. Michigan State led the Big Ten in sacks and was second in tackles for loss with the production coming from enough places to keep it all going despite losing top pass rushers Jacob Panasiuk and Drew Beesley. Khris Bogle is coming in from Florida to go on the other side of second-leading sacker Jeff Pietrowski.
The ends will be more than fine, especially around a fantastic rotation at tackle that should be a wall against the run. 315-pound senior Jacob Slade is the best of the bunch with 285-pound sophomore Simeon Barrow not far behind.
The linebacking corps will be interesting if Jacoby Windmon can take all the production he generated at UNLV last year and bring it to the middle linebacking spot. 75-tackle Qavaris Crouch left through the transfer portal, but Cal Haladay is back on the weakside after finishing second on the team with 96 stops and Mississippi State’s Aaron Rule will be a factor. They’ll all get behind the line.
And then there’s …
The secondary. It has to be night-and-day better, and it starts with getting Ameer Speed from Georgia for one corner spot. The recruiting class will play a big role overall, but the starting five will at least be loaded with experience, Safety Xavier Henderson led the team with 96 tackles, there are more options at corner, and …
This is the make-or-break group for the Spartan season.