Thursday, August 30, 2012

Keys to Week 1

The college football season is set to begin tonight.
It’s an exciting time around the country and high hopes reside on all campuses, especially at Michigan State and Michigan.
With MSU getting underway tomorrow and Michigan starting on Saturday, here are my keys to victory for both teams.

MSU vs Boise State:
- Start Fast: Normally this would be implied to the offense, but I am actually making reference to the defense. Boise State is breaking in a lot of new pieces, including at quarterback. If the MSU defensive front can get to Joe Southwick early, it is likely to lead to some quick turnovers and good field position for Andrew Maxwell and the offense.
- Establish The Running Game: The best way to truly stop the Boise State offense is to keep it off the field. Also, with Maxwell getting his first start, it is best to have a healthy running game. If Le’Veon Bell, Larry Caper and Nick Hill can consistently move the team down the field and make Maxwell only have to make safe throws, it should lead to a strong night for the Spartans.
- Don’t Get Too Tricky: Mark Dantonio hasn’t shied away from trick plays in big games. However, in this game, Michigan State should be the team setting the tempo and winning the line of scrimmage. The Spartans don’t need to try anything radical to win this game and a failed risk could give Boise State the opening it needs to pull off the upset. Keep the strategy simple and sound.

Michigan vs. Alabama:
- Don’t Lose Before Kickoff: Brady Hoke has done a good job of hyping his team up for this game. There is no doubt that Alabama is the favorite to win this game, but Michigan can’t come in with that attitude. Any bit of intimidation from the Wolverines will cost them the game before it even starts. Michigan has to come out with passion, confidence and energy. I know it sounds like a silly thing to say, but not all players take the field believing they can win.
- Play The Run: The Crimson Tide will be big up front and probably look to pound the rock. Michigan is small on the defensive line, but they have a solid group of linebackers. The Wolverines need to commit those linebackers to the run in the early going to try and get the Crimson Tide off the field. Though A.J. McCarron is a returning starter at quarterback for Alabama, he is the weaker option for the Tide’s offense. Michigan would much rather give McCarron the option of beating it rather than letting Alabama run the ball all game long.
- Establish The Run: This one isn’t real difficult either. With or without Fitzgerald Toussaint, the Wolverines need to be able to run the ball effectively and it can’t be up to Denard Robinson to do all the running. Michigan may have to get creative in the way it moves the ball because Alabama will probably plug up a lot of the running lanes. Michigan won’t be able to win this game if Robinson has to convert a lot of third-and-longs with his arm. If Michigan is able to run the ball consistently, it opens the door for a lot of options for the Wolverines and will keep Alabama guessing on defense.

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