That’s what I came away with after watching MSU play the Western Michigan Broncos. Encroachment, off sides, and delay of game penalties, running third down routes short of the first down markers reflect poorly on any staff and are an indication of an undisciplined squad, and that is what I witnessed.
To add insult to injury the defensive line still needs a map to find the opposing teams backfield, let alone the quarterback. The secondary still doesn’t know how to play the ball when it is in the air as they never, NEVER, look back for the ball. Again that reflects on the coaching these players are receiving if you believe the hype that they have the talent. Gill, Barnett aren’t earning their paychecks, but then again either is defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi. Continuity is important for a coaching staff but only if the members of the staff are capable of instructing their units. I am not seeing that from Gill or Barnett, and that will be the ruin of Dantonio if not corrected, immediately. I am not advocating firing them now, but just let them know that their performance is holding the improvement of this unit back. Terrible.
Dantonio preached that the defense needed to learn how to come off the field, but WMU repeatedly found ways to convert third and fourth down plays to keep drives alive or score. Obviously his words have fallen on deaf ears of his defensive staff and the players. WMU gave the Spartan defense all they could handle, and I can only imagine what a good offensive team can and will do to this team. If they can’t get off the field against WMU how do they expect to be competitive with UW, Iowa, or PSU? They won’t unless a fire is lit under the members of this side of the ball. During the game the announcers commented after WMU scored their second touchdown that Dantonio got into the face of his defense. My only question is what took him so long? I would have been chewing on their asses the entire first half after the first second series by the Broncos and continued well into the locker room at half time.
MSU showed no improvement in the defensive areas that have been an issue the past few seasons. As I stated above, if MSU supposedly has the talent, then the only logical cause for the lack of improvement rests squarely on the shoulders of the defensive coaches, Gill, Barnett, and Narduzzi.
The defensive lapses overshadowed a rather impressive first game by freshman Le’Veon Bell. Bell did nothing to diminish Howard Griffith’s statement about him possibly becoming the featured back in this offense by mid-season if not sooner. The young man showed toughness running between the tackles and good speed going to the outside. Before I get ahead of myself I have to remember that this was against WMU, a defense that allowed Ashton Leggett to have a career day last season. Still Bell’s performance was better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.
Receiver’s were awful. It appeared at times that they sprayed PAM on their gloves because nothing stuck to their hands. They couldn’t catch a pass with a bushel basket. Terrible. Poor Cousins was hesitant to throw because he didn’t know if anyone of his receivers would actually catch a ball that hit them in their hands.
Dantonio has his work cut out for him this week as there are plenty of areas that need to be revisited and corrections made. You can color me unimpressed with this Spartan performance, and I fear that there may be more of these performances ahead.