I asked McClain Moberg of SBN Michigan State blog The Only Colors some questions about his Spartans in preparation for Saturday night’s game. Here are my questions, along with his responses. Check out my answers to his questions over at their blog as well.
BR: How has the internal strife and national controversy surrounding MSU, in the wake of the Larry Nassar scandal, affected this team as well as the fanbase?
MM: Obviously this is a very sensitive topic, especially for MSU fans, students, and faculty. No one is happy about how this situation was allowed to continue over the course of many years. The student body has grown closer together during this time. They’ve done things like gather around the Hannah Administration Building in protest of the hiring of John Engler and called for his resignation. They created the Go Teal Campaign which supported survivors and sought to bring awareness to this issue and spark a movement of their own.
Now loads of students walk around campus with teal ribbons attached to their backpacks to show their support for anyone who was involved or affected by Larry Nassar. The community has taken action into their owns hands and it would be an understatement to say they’ve done anything except come together during this very difficult time for Spartans everywhere.
BR: I went to bed two Saturdays ago with MSU up 13-3 on Arizona State. They lost 16-13 on a last-second field goal. What happened in the fourth quarter that caused MSU to lose this game?
MM: The Sun Devils managed to score 13 unanswered points and held onto the ball for the last 4:50 seconds. Herm Edwards handled the clock masterfully and with two minutes remaining (and no Spartans timeouts to stop him) he took a knee on first down to set up the game winning field goal. The MSU defense made big play after big play through three quarters of the game but everyone knows the aerial assault of Manny Wilkins and N’Keal Harry can come at you fast. Which is exactly what happened in the fourth quarter when ASU connected on back to back deep balls scoring their only touchdown of the night.
A quick possession for the Spartans would result in giving the ball right back to the Sun Devils. Leaving them with ample time to, as I said earlier, set up the game winner, and walk off victorious.
BR: Brian Lewerke has looked shaky in his first two starts. L.J. Scott seems like he’s been in East Lansing forever. Who else on the Michigan State offense needs to step up as conference play begins?
MM: Brian Lewerke has struggled for the first two weeks of the season, fortunately for Spartan fans he was able to put together a game winning drive in their opener against Utah State. Unfortunately, he could not perform the same feat in their last game against ASU. He has thrown critical interceptions in both games and put his team in difficult situations. That being said, Brian isn’t this offense’s biggest issue. Their offensive line was non existent in both weeks. Their lack of push up front is alarming and is a big reason why MSU can’t run the ball and Lewerke is constantly being hurried.
In my opinion, the guys on offense who need to step up aren’t skill players at all but instead a unit. The offensive lines success will be directly correlated with their success as an offense.
BR: What names will IU fans need to know on MSU’s defense, and who are the key playmakers on that side of the ball?
MM: A few guys Indiana fans need to know are LB Joe Bachie, S Khari Willis, and DE Kenny Willekes. All of these can and have made a difference on the football field for the Spartans. They have the ability to shift momentum every time they step on the field.
Bachie - 21 tackles, 12 solo, one sack, one interception
Willis - 13 tackles, 8 solo, one interception
Willekes - 8 tackles, 7 solo, two sacks, one forced fumble
BR: Mark Dantonio is in his 12th season at Michigan State and shows no sign of slowing down at the moment. Are fans generally still satisfied with his performance as head coach, or are people ready for new blood?
MM: Mark Dantonio is closing in on the all-time wins record for a head coach at Michigan State. He’s most likely the best thing to ever happen to the Spartan football program. What he’s been able to accomplish for Spartan Nation has been nothing short of spectacular and yes he had a blip on the radar. Going 3-9 in 2016 was painful for the fanbase and the team but they came out stronger on the other side. It’s not a representation of what he’s done for this school. So to answer your question no, the fan base still loves him, as they should.
BR: Prediction time: Final score? Who wins? Why?
MM: Indiana has had a nice season so far. They’ve went undefeated in the non-conference and have played well. I personally like guys like Peyton Ramsey, Stevie Scott, and J-Shun Harris. But I’m picking the Spartans to win this one. Mark Dantonio is at his best when it comes to motivating his players and pushing them through adversity time and time again. With the loss and the bye week MSU just had they will be well rested and ready to avenge their recent mishap. The Old Brass Spittoon will stay in East Lansing for another year.
MSU 28 IU 13