Mama said there’d be days like this, but damn…I didn’t expect them to be nearly this ugly. A win is a win is a win, however, at some point it would be nice to see the Michigan State Spartans (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten) look like a complete football team. Anybody who has made that request will have to wait at almost another week, as yesterday’s offensive effort by Sparty was hard to watch.
Sparty took on the University of South Florida Bulls (0-2, 0-0 Big East) in East Lansing, MI, yesterday and won 21-6. It was the first-ever meeting between the two programs and honestly, if yesterday is any indication of how future matchups will go, I hope it was their last. USF was coming off of a 53-21 loss at home to FCS school McNeese St. Yes, I know there are some solid FCS football teams, but losing at home by 32 to one is virtually unacceptable. Sparty beat Western Michigan 26-13 the week before, in what was one of the uglier football games I’ve seen in a while.
After a rather abysmal performance last week, MSU head coach Mark Dantonio decided to bench starting QB Andrew Maxwell and replace him with sophomore QB, Connor Cook, who admittedly didn’t look all that much better against the vaunted WMU defense. In addition, Dantonio announced that redshirt freshman Tyler O’Connor would be his backup and most likely see some game action. I assume Dantonio thought this move would spark the passing game and clearly, he was dead wrong.
Cook started and was barely average. O’Connor replaced him and looked…okay? Maxwell then got some game time and didn’t throw an interception, so that’s something. Combined, the three quarterbacks finished 12-24 for 94 yards. If it weren’t for running backs Nick Hill, Jeremy Langford and Riley Bullough combining for 24 carries, 137 yards and a score, I’d probably still be fuming today after a Sparty loss to lowly USF.
Fortunately, Sparty’s defense is damn scary. Sophomore defensive end Shilique Calhoun made his presence felt yesterday, and his team needed every bit of it. He recorded 2 tackles for loss, one sack and returned both an interception and fumble for touchdowns. USF’s offense was held to just 155 total yards, with only 66 of them coming through the air. The Bulls punted 9 times and converted only 1 of 13 third down attempts. USF starting QB Bobby Eveld was named the starter for this game by head coach Willie Taggart after Matt Floyd stunk it up against McNeese St., and he was downright awful. He never seemed to have a grasp of the offense and completed only 6 of 25 passes for 66 yards and an interception. The only bright spot for the USF offense was RB Marcus Shaw, who ran for 94 yards on 23 carries.
Next up for Sparty is Youngstown St., who has already defeated South Dakota and Indiana St in 2013. Dantonio previously worked on the Penguins’ staff under former Ohio St. head coach Jim Tressel, and the Spartans won their last meeting with YSU, 28-6, in September of 2011. I’m hoping that the MSU offense will show some life against the Pens’ defense, and assume that either Maxwell or Cook will get the call to start. Some fans are wondering whether true freshman QB Damion Terry will at least get some time against YSU, and he probably will, and should. Expect a win, but less ugliness from Sparty’s offense. Go Green. Go White.
- Florida head coach Will Muschamp clearly isn’t into offense. Former Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp was great in his role with the Longhorns and was widely regarded as one of the best assistants or coordinators in all of college football when he worked under UT head coach Mack Brown. So when he was hired to be the new skipper of the Florida Gators, most assumed that he would bring his knowledge and unique intensity to Gainesville and turn Florida into at the least, a defensive powerhouse. Well, Florida has had an elite defense during his tenure, but the offense has been another story. Florida was plagued by a somewhat inept offense last season and that certainly applied to the passing game, which was one of the worst in the entire country. I saw every second of their sloppy ’13 opener against Toledo and knew that their offense would have to scrap just to get by. Against a very good Miami defense, Florida’s offense actually had some success, amassing 413 total yards of offense, but their power running game was ineffective and inefficient and QB Jeff Driskel was shaky early on. They’ll play Tennesee in two weeks, which has won their first two games by a combined score of 97-20. There’s gonna be trouble, trooouuuble…
- Lee Corso has become a freakin’ sideshow. Lee Corso is a clown. I once enjoyed his analysis and good-spirited nature, and definitely loved his propensity for rockin’ mascot heads. But, ESPN’s College GameDay has become somewhat hard to get into, and not just because former Michigan WR Desmond Howard and former Ohio St. QB Kirk Herbstreit have anything to do with it. I get it: Let’s laugh at the outrageous old man who seems to pull opinions out of his ass and analysis from a vat of randomness, but it’s become tired now. His act has jumped the shark (no Fonz) and I’m not sure if many others share my opinion. It would be nice if either Corso would tone down his act or College GameDay would be scrapped. Yeah…let’s go with the former.
- Illinois offensive coordinator Bill Cubit has his unit doing work. Former Western Michigan head coach and offensive mastermind Bill Cubit always led a proficient offense during his time with the WMU Broncos. After being hired by Illinois head coach Tim Beckman to be the Fightin’ Illini’s new OC, I figured their O would certainly see a bump in production, but didn’t expect them to make it look so easy, albeit against teams like Southern Illinois and Cincinnati so far in ’13. The Illini have racked up almost 1,000 yards of total offense in their first two games of ’13 and have scored a combined 87 points. They’ll play Washington at Soldier Field this Saturday in what should be a tougher test for their offense, but I expect them to pass with flying colors. Illinois still doesn’t frighten me, even with MSU being almost entirely one-dimensional to this point, but if they go out and carve up Washington, I’ll act like they’re not Rodney Dangerfield and show ’em a little respect.