Monday, August 27, 2012

The Michigan vs. MSU Checklist

The anxiousness for college football games is growing by the minute.
But the debate never has to end.
Today I will break down each position group for Michigan and Michigan State, sort of like a checklist, to see who comes into the season with the better team on paper.
QUARTERBACKS – This is an easy one. Denard Robinson is in his third season as starter and even the backup, Devin Gardner, has more snaps in live action than MSU’s first-year starter, Andrew Maxwell. Maxwell could be good but it would be very hard to see him being better than Robinson. Advantage Michigan
RUNNING BACKS – This is a tough call, but I think the Wolverines have the edge here. Fitzgerald Toussaint appears to be the best back of the group, but at this time it is unknown how many games he could miss from a suspension. MSU has a good group of backs that could produce more yards this year, but if you factor Robinson’s rushing ability, Michigan should have the stronger rushing attack. Advantage Michigan
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT END – Michigan has the clear edge here. The Spartans don’t have a returning starter at the position and will be playing a lot of underclassmen. Michigan isn’t overly loaded with experience either, but have guys like Roy Roundtree and Jeremy Gallon, who have some chemistry with Robinson. Advantage Michigan
OFFENSIVE LINE – Michigan might have the best single player on the line in Taylor Lewan, but Michigan State has four starters back from a group that allowed just 16 sacks in 2011. Advantage MSU
DEFENSIVE LINE – MSU has the clear edge in this one. William Gholston is one of the top defensive ends in the country and he is joined on the other end by Marcus Rush. Defensive tackle is a question, but the ends should be strong enough to help overcome the issues up the middle. Michigan is lacking in experience up front and now has some depth issues due to injuries and suspensions. Advantage MSU
LINEBACKERS – Both teams should be strong at linebacker, but MSU has a slight edge in my eyes. The Spartans have a pair of 2011 All-Big Ten selections in Denicos Allen and Max Bullough. Michigan returns all three starters, but the trio doesn’t quite have the numbers that the MSU trio does. Advantage MSU
SECONDARY – Again, both should be solid, but I like MSU’s unit over Michigan’s. Johnny Adams has emerged as one of the top cornerbacks in the country and he is one of three starters back for MSU. For Michigan, three starters are also back, but the Wolverines don’t quite have the same production out of their secondary. Advantage MSU
SPECIAL TEAMS – Got to go with Michigan State here. Dan Conroy struggled with some short kicks, but was 8-for-9 in FG’s between 30-50 yards. Punter Mike Sadler has a better average and more punts inside the 20 than Will Hagerup of Michigan. The Spartans also have better numbers in the return game, led by Nick Hill. Advantage MSU
COACHING – It’s easy for Michigan fans to want to immediately say Brady Hoke is the better coach, but he still has to prove that. One season doesn’t make him better than Mark Dantonio right now. I am not saying he can’t be the better coach over the long haul, but right now, I have to give the nod to Dantonio. Certainly the recruiting is going in Hoke’s favor. If that recruiting translates on the field, Hoke will have the edge soon. Advantage MSU

That puts the tally at 6-3 for Michigan State. However, some of the positions that MSU gets the nod are closer than the ones where Michigan tops MSU. Quarterback and receiver stand out. It appears on paper both teams should be equipped for a strong year, which is what should make this season a great one.

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