Indiana football is set to take on Michigan State tomorrow for the program’s senior day. With bowl eligibility out the window after a disappointing finish in Champaign, it’ll be interesting to see how the Hoosiers seize the day.
As for the Spartans, we reached out to fellow blog The Only Colors to talk ball. Here are the answers:
How has Harlon Barnett’s team been doing so far? Any big changes from when Tucker was still in charge?
In a word, horrible. MSU started 2-0 under the leadership of former coach Mel Tucker. He was suspended ahead of the week 3 game vs. Washington and that is when Barnett was given the interim role. The Huskies absolutely blew out the Spartans. I asked an MSU player after that game if Washington was really that much better or if MSU was just not mentally prepared with all that had happened that week, and his answer was that Washington was really that much better. I was hoping he was going to say the other answer as that would have given me faith in this team moving forward. With two weeks left, it is possible to say that MSU has been missing talent AND has not been mentally prepared for games. In addition to that Washington game, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio State (that ended up being alphabetical AND chronological) have all blown out MSU. The Spartans have only managed one win since Tucker was removed, and that was against Nebraska. In just about every game, there have been several instances of stupid mistakes, poor execution, and downright getting outplayed. It is hard to say if there were any changes when the coaching change occurred because we only had two games against lower level schools to compare it to, but there is no reason to say that things got better after the change. Most (all?) fans are ready for this season to be over.
Speaking of, that’s an open job. What kind of candidate would Michigan State fans most want to step in here in a month or so?
There are two camps right now amongst State fans, those that want the Urban Meyer rumors to be true and those that don’t. And then, among the not-Urban camp, you can break that into those that want the next up-and-coming coordinator and those that want someone with a proven head coaching track record. So basically, there is no consensus. I guess I will admit I am in the Urban camp, though I am not holding my breath that it will come to fruition. So in the absence of that, I do think this team needs someone with HC experience. The team and the program are in a bit of disarray with everything that has gone on, and we need someone who can save a sinking ship. Someone needs to prevent the expected exodus of current players to the transfer portal, keep existing recruits from withdrawing their commitments, and bring along some new talent. That seems like a lot to put on the plate of someone who has never been the guy.
What’s the team’s identity on offense and defense?
Are you assuming MSU has an identity on either side of the ball? Does poor play calling and inexcusable errors count as an identity? This team has had three starting quarterbacks this season and none of them have shown that they deserve the job next year over the others. There is a good running back in Nathan Carter but he seldom gets good blocking. The WRs we were expecting to be our best this season - Montorie Foster and Tre Mosley - while maybe statistically better than the others, have come up way short of expectations. Of course, some of that has to do with QB play, but not entirely. There have been drops and failures to get open more times than I’d like to recount. Defensively, one of MSU’s leaders, Jacoby Windmon, has been out since week 3. We are incapable of stopping opponents’ passing games, and are only adequate against the run. The identity of this team is “Team not going to a bowl game”.
What players should Indiana have circled on offense and defense heading into the matchup?
I’ll start with defense since it is easier. On the line, Derrick Harmon and Simeon Barrow Jr. have been stout. Behind them, LB Cal Haladay is perhaps the best player on the entire team. Don’t worry about the secondary. Just throw the ball deep. You’ll either catch it or draw a pass interference flag. Offensively, If you shut down the run game, you win. The offensive line, as mentioned above, is not clearing many paths. The left side of the line is probably the stronger side, so rather than just mentioning RB Nathan Carter again, I will drop LT Brandon Baldwin and LG JD Duplain as the players to focus on.
Final score prediction?
I am not expecting fireworks in this game. Let’s go with MSU 20-17 to ruin Senior Day for Indiana.