Saturday, December 29, 2012

Thoughts on MSU's 17-16 win over TCU

It was almost like two different games were played on Saturday night.
In the first half, Michigan State looked like it didn’t have any business being in a bowl game to begin with. The offense was as bad as it has been all season and the defense was giving up a number of big plays, which allowed TCU to score 13 points.
But, in true Spartan fashion this season, MSU found a way to make the game interesting.
Connor Cook led the Spartans on a 90-yard TD drive that saw a creative pass play from Le’Veon Bell on third down. Then, a big gift on a muffed punt by the Horned Frogs led to an easy touchdown run for Bell from four yards out. Those scoring drives gave the Spartans an improbable lead.
But, again in 2012 MSU fashion, TCU managed to respond with a mildly-successful drive that led to a 53-yard field from Jaden Oberkrom that just avoided hitting the left upright, putting TCU ahead, 16-14, late in the game.
Mark Dantonio again turned to redshirt freshman Connor Cook to lead the offense in response, and he did, hitting a pair of key passes to open the drive before Le’Veon Bell did the rest of the work to setup Dan Conroy for a 47-yard field goal that turned out to be the game-winner.
As ugly as MSU played, a win is a win. Bowl wins are important for the program and Saturday night’s victory puts a positive end to a disappointing season. It still doesn’t make this season a success for the Spartans, but the team and coaches showed some heart by finding a way to win that game.
Clearly many of the issues during the season, especially on offense, still were an issue in this game. Throwing short of the sticks on third down was the most noticeable one. Some blame goes to Andrew Maxwell, some goes to the receivers.
Regardless of who was to blame, it is clear that Michigan State knew Cook needed an opportunity to play in a big game, and he played as well as you could expect him to given his experience and the circumstances.
You would have to think Cook may have the edge on Maxwell heading into spring ball. Maxwell was as bad as he has been all season, going just 6 for 16 for 28 yards. We will see how he responds to this game in the offseason, but even he has to realize that his title as starting quarterback is in jeopardy.
If Saturday was Bell’s last game as a Spartan, he left it all on the field. He again shouldered the physical load, carrying 32 times for 145 yards. There weren’t many holes for him throughout the game, but he did what he could to move the offense forward.
If Saturday’s game did anything, it made the offseason for the Spartans very interesting, and it all starts with who is going to be on the roster come the fall.

No comments:

Post a Comment