Tag Archives: Jerel Worthy

Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2011 Michigan State Spartans

For the first three years of mine (and Sara G’s) college career, we watched a Michigan State Spartans team that trickled away lead after lead, against Notre Dame in a downpour, against Michigan (again and again and…), against Ohio State, against practically all comers. We saw teams stacked with talent – Jehuu Caulcrick, Javon Ringer, Drew Stanton, Greg Jones, Otis Wiley, Domata Peko – start out hot and find ways to lose. MSU was a team devoid of heart, bankrupt of drive and with no program

We all agree.

culture to speak of.

Finally, midway through the 2006 season, MSU cut John L. “Screwin’ It Up” Smith loose, and went on the hunt for a new coach. When Mark Dantonio was hired, we were skeptical. Things seemed…better? We still lost to Michigan. It wasn’t a great season, by any means, but the footing seemed solid. Looking back, the most powerful moment of that season came when Coach D got into a (since much maligned by U of M fans) war of words with running back Mike Hart. You can watch the video for yourself and see that that’s when Mark decided the Big Ten wasn’t going to have MSU to kick around any more.

After today’s bowl win against Georgia, they don’t. For the first time, the Spartans faced an opponent without an NFL caliber starting lineup in an extremely winnable bowl game. They were the only Big 10 team victorious on New Year’s Day (observed). They did what all of John L’s teams failed to do time after time ; they found a way to win.

MSU’s time under Mark Dantonio has not been easy. It’s not been spotless and it’s not been an astronomical assent. But what Michigan State has built with consecutive double-digit win seasons is a program culture. A culture of toughness, of underdog mentality and of winning despite the odds and against all costs. As stupid and cliche as that sounds, for a team that did not win, no matter what, to turn into the come-from-behind squad they’ve become is remarkable.

The difference is obvious – It’s leadership. From the coaching staff and the players. Michigan State lucked into a remarkable on- and off-field leader in Kirk Cousins for the past three years, and he will be sorely missed in 2012. But the leadership extends throughout the team, in seniors like Trenton Robinson and Joel Foreman, in position players like Brian Linthecum, Keith Nichol, Johnny Adams and Max Bullough.

One final thing to say about the 2011 Spartans, and Mark Dantonio’s teams in general – this defense is not playin’ with y’all. That’s 2011 and 2012 and beyond. Coach D gets defensive lumps of coal and turns them into diamonds (case in point: three-star recruit Jerel Worthy). I, for one, am excited for what’s to come from this team. (more on this to come, obviously)

But most importantly, to Kirk, to BJ, to Keith, to Joel, to Trenton, to all of the seniors who’ve played their last snap in Green & White- thank you. Thank you for giving us a program to get behind. Thank you for never giving up. Thank you for your pride and thank you for your commitment. Thank you, and Go Green.


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Filed under Big Ten, College Football, Football, MSU, Posted by Sarah, Recap

Between the hashes: Big Ten Title game

The matchup: YOUR Michigan State Spartans vs. the Wisconsin Badgers

Kickoff: 8:17 p.m., Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis

The Line: Wisconsin by 10

It’s now about 12 hours before kickoff in one of the biggest games of the past decade for Michigan State football, but apparently no one told the Big Ten that Wisconsin is already going to the Rose Bowl, because they’re still insisting on holding the game.

Denicos Allen celebrates a sack of Russel Wilson. (Photo LSJ)

In a detail unrelated to any of the football analysis that follows, I got in the car last night and someone on sports radio was talking about how Wisconsin was going to win. Fine. But when posed with the question, “How can MSU pull this off (again)?” said talking head replied with “Well, they’ll have to play good defense, and they’ll have to do it without cheating.” Look here sir. That defense gave up the fewest yards per game in the Big 10. Yes, even fewer than Wisconsin. They had no penalties in the first matchup. Just because you saw a YouTube video of William Gholston trying to give Denard Robinson a Swedish neck massage does not mean Michigan State has a defense full of cheaters. They have a defense full of beasts and head hunters.

On to the matchup! There are a few key points that will determine the outcome of this game, and I’m going to dig into them below. Quick summary: Running game, non-offensive scoring, pass pressure and emotional magnitude.

Key to victory 1: The running game. One thing most people seem to agree on is that running the ball will be of the utmost importance in this game. For the Spartans, this means they need to execute the running game better than they have at times this season and contain Montee “Moneyball” Ball. The key to Michigan State getting some significant yardage on the ground is it’s young offense line, which has recently shaped up into a decent blocking unit. If Le’veon Bell can get in the neighborhood of 100 yards, it should do wonders for the Spartans passing game and offensive rhythm.

On the other side of the ball, Michigan State needs to exploit Wisconsin’s somewhat patchwork offensive line (more on this later). Montee Ball is a strong, tough back, but not extremely explosive and if MSU can take away the inside, Wisconsin will be forced to work him to the edges of the field, where he can be dangerous, but not lethal.

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Filed under Big Ten, Big Ten Title Game, College Football, Football, MSU, P4RB, Posted by Sarah, Rose Bowl?