Monday, August 20, 2012

Three Big Questions facing MSU in 2012 season

The offseason of college football is like one long debate.
There are plenty of “ifs” and “buts”, however none of them really matter until kickoff of the opening game.
Still, debate and conversation is what makes football so popular.
Over the next two posts I will look at what are the big question marks entering the season for both Michigan State and Michigan. Today, I look at the Spartans.
BIG QUESTION NO. 1 – Can Andrew Maxwell lead MSU to success?
Maxwell comes into a nice situation as a first-year starting quarterback. He has a top-level defense that should keep the scores low and he has a veteran offensive line in front of him. His big concern has to be inexperienced receivers to throw to. But, he has probably developed some chemistry with these guys as backups last year during practice. Maxwell doesn’t need to be great, he just needs to be smart. Maxwell will be more likely to bring MSU down than to push them up. If he avoids turnovers and can make the short, accurate throws, he gives the Spartans a chance for a great season. If tries to do too much, he could make it a long year for Mark Dantonio.
BIG QUESTION NO. 2 – Can the MSU defense be as good as advertised?
I just said that the MSU defense should give Maxwell some ease, but what if they don’t? I think most everyone expects the Spartans to be one of the best defenses in the country, and with good reason. But things don’t always work out that way. Injuries could play a role or players could simply regress. The Spartans do lose a few key pieces on the defensive line, including defensive tackle Jerel Worthy, who helped the performance of someone like end William Gholston. The 2011 MSU defense did give up some big numbers to the likes of Minnesota and Northwestern last year, so it’s not out of the question they could struggle at times. If the MSU defense isn’t as dominant as many expect, it puts a lot of pressure on Maxwell. Conversely, if Maxwell struggles, it puts the MSU defense in a tough spot to have to be as dominant as expected.
BIG QUESTION NO. 3 – Can MSU stay at the top of the Big Ten?
The last two years have been an impressive run for Michigan State. But, it is clear that many (looking at you Michigan fans) expect the Spartans to drop back to the middle of the Big Ten pack with Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer in the picture. I am not so sure. I think the Spartans are still fighting for respectability and this season will go a long way in terms of getting it or losing it. Wisconsin should be strong, Ohio State should be improved and Michigan claims to have their man in Hoke. There are no excuses left on the table. If the Spartans find a way to win the Legends Division, or even the Big Ten Championship, I would expect them to be a factor for many years to come. If they stumble and go just 7-5, it may be back to the “Same Old Spartans” routine.

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