Saturday, November 3, 2012

Final thoughts from Week 10

It was an eventful day for football fans in the state of Michigan. Both Michigan and MSU had some interesting storylines come out of their games. Here are my final thoughts on the games.

Nebraska 28, Michigan State 24
I can’t tell you how upset I get when I hear about the refs “screwing” MSU on Saturday.
Was the pass interference call late in the game a bad one? I think so.
But, in no way can the whole game be blamed on that one call.
For one, Nebraska was still in field goal range to tie the game. Even without the penalty, the Cornhuskers were within reason to force overtime. Whose to say MSU would have won in OT?
Second, Michigan State had plenty of opportunities to close that game out and managed to not do it.
The most notable of those opportunities was on Darqueze Dennard’s interception of Taylor Martinez on the MSU 4-yard line that he returned for a touchdown. The score would have put the Spartans up 31-14 with 10:42 to play. Instead, the return was called back because of a personal foul hit by Johnny Adams on a Nebraska player.
Adams, who was completely out of the play at the time of the foul, lowered his shoulder into a Nebraska player and wiped him out. There was no need for the hit. It didn’t help Dennard or his team in any way. In fact, I’d argue the hit ultimately cost his team the game.
MSU’s offense sputtered from there and Nebraska came back on the next possession to score a touchdown and get back in the contest.
After the penalty, the MSU defense had multiple chances to close out the game, including a key fourth and short in Spartan territory, but they failed to make the stop.
Nebraska tallied 493 total yards in the win and Taylor Martinez rushed for 224 yards on his own.
The MSU defense failed to close out a game, which has been a problem in the past. The offense actually provided 24 points, which should have been enough to win this game.
After the game, I was disappointed to see the reaction of the players on Twitter. MSU has already had problems with players running their mouths on Twitter this season and tonight was no different. Here were a few choice cuts from running back Le’Veon Bell:
@L_Bell24: #ShoutOut to the refs...yall won the game tonight! Toughest team we played all year..”
@L_Bell24: We legitimately lost ONE game this year...and that was Notre Dame! The black & white team beat us 4 times
Bell removed the tweets afterward but the mindset of MSU blaming their losses on anyone but themselves is a disturbing trend this year and speaks to why the team is currently 5-5.
The Spartans need some accountability. Adams showed no accountability on the INT return and that led to a loss.
Bell is showing no accountability on Twitter and if the players carry this mindset the rest of the way, there will be more losses to come.

Michigan 35, Minnesota 13
Michigan had to feel like Saturday was a double victory.
The Wolverines not only won on the football field, but they won with the relief of knowing they have a quarterback they can turn to next season.
I’m sure Michigan fans were pretty nervous when they found out Denard Robinson wasn’t playing, and the first quarter didn’t do much to settle those nerves, but Devin Gardner settled in nicely and made some great plays with his arm and his feet to lead the offense to a victory.
His ability to buy some time on his 45-yard touchdown pass to Drew Dileo for Michigan’s first score seemed to spark the offense and give Gardner confidence the rest of the way.
He finished 12 of 18 passing for 234 yards while also rushing for 23 yards and a score. He doesn’t have the legs of Robinson, but he has a better arm and he looks like a player Michigan can turn to next season.
With a summer of focusing on being the starting quarterback, I think Gardner can be successful and keep Michigan from taking a step back next year.
I am sure Brady Hoke will put more emphasis on having Gardner ready to backup Robinson the rest of the way.

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