In retrospect, we were sandbagged.
We were told we could play toe to toe with the preseason conference favorite because quarterback play was holding back their offense. Of course, the quarterback in question was the most heavily recruited freshman college quarterback to come along in this century. And he showed us why. When Terrell Pryor is running with the ball, it looks like he’s playing on a different VCR tape speed than everyone around him.
The 5 MSU turnovers obviously made the loss even uglier than it otherwise might have been. Take a couple of those away and give us one or two recoveries of Ohio State’s three fumbles and maybe the final score is more respectable. Nevertheless, we were clearly beaten by a better team.
As evidence, here are the first down stats in the first half, when the game somewhat resembled a real football game:
- MSU ran on 5 first down plays and passed on 5 first down plays.
- The 5 rushing attempts totaled 10 yards (2.0 yards/rush).
- The 5 passing attempts resulted in two completions for 22 yards and one interception (40.0% completion percentage; 4.4 yards/attempt).
The best two first down plays in the first half occurred consecutively: a 14-yard pass completion to Keshawn Martin followed by a 5-yard run by Javon Ringer. The next play in that sequence ended with a fumble by Martin when he didn’t switch the ball to his outside arm running toward the sideline.
I ended up only seeing bits and pieces of the second half, so I can’t comment intelligently on Kirk Cousins’ play in relief of Brian Hoyer. I’ll take Witless Chum’s word for it:
Cousins looked sharper throwing the ball than I thought, but the blitz and fumble play showed why he hasn’t moved ahead of Hoyer. Even if Cousins is as good of a passer as he looked yesterday, the more situational awareness parts of QBing look like they aren’t quite there yet. He’ll certainly be a good QB to have around going forward.
How worried are people about Hoyer going forward? He followed up his nearly flawless performance against Northwestern with a clunker of a stat line 5-13-27-1. (The “27” is passing yards, just in case that didn’t immediately process as a passing stat line.)
The key, of course, is not allowing this loss to create a downward spiral to finish the season. Again, we turn to the comments section, courtesy of DP99:
Nothing really changes. MSU is still on the inside track for a 9-3 finish, they are just going to have to keep playing hard to get it. Last year this team showed it could get itself together to finish the season after multiple tough losses, so there you go. If they survive the next three weeks, and PSU does a job on OSU, who knows, we’ll light the candle of hope one more time.
Having now allowed my readers to supply a good portion of this game recap, I’ll let you all of you finish it off. How confident are you in Mark Dantonio’s ability to get this team to bounce back emotionally, construct a solid game plan against an erratic Michigan team, and get the win in hostile territory on Saturday?