If you think Notre Dame suffered a heartbreaker last weekend, than you haven’t seen the Michigan State highlights.
The Spartans (1-1) lost on a 42-yard field goal from Central Michigan’s Andrew Aguila as time expired, but that only tells half the story. On the previous play, Agulia missed his first attempt, but was given another opportunity after a Michigan State defender jumped offside. It was a devastating home loss for the Spartans, who now have to travel to South Bend to take on an Irish team that’s angrier than a teased pitbull.
Offense: There are not a lot of special parts to Michigan State’s offense. They’ve been playing two quarterbacks, Kirk Cousins and Keith Nichol, and have yet to name a starter for the game on Saturday. After watching them play, Cousins seems to be the more accurate passer. He looks good in the pocket and has a strong arm. He doesn’t run often so it’ll present a different look for the Irish defense. Senior wide receiver Blair White has had a ridiculous start to the season (16 receptions, 267 yards and two touchdowns) and must be a focus of the Notre Dame defensive backs.
Defense: Once again, a weak secondary that Clausen can exploit. They let Central Michigan quarterback Dan Lefevour throw for 352 yards and three touchdowns during their upset loss last weekend. However, their guys up front are a big, physical bunch that loves to stuff the run. Through the first two games, they’ve combined for six sacks and have given up a stingy 126 yards on the ground. Michigan State does have a lot of team speed but if Notre Dame does establish the run, the Spartans will be extremely vulnerable to playaction fakes. And if Tate, Floyd and Rudolph get going, State is in for a long afternoon.
Names you’ll hear on Saturday:
Greg Jones, LB: Junior All-America candidate has been the defensive MVP for the Spartans. He leads the team in tackles (29), tackles for loss (4), and sacks (1.5).
Brett Swenson, PK: He’s connected on every extra point (8 for 8) and field goal he’s attempted (4-4). His long is 45-yards and could be a key scorer for Michigan State.
Ray Caulton, RB: Although his numbers aren’t as high as he would like them (122 yards on 26 carries), Caulton is a guy with a serious running ability. He was a top recruit out of high school and is still getting used to coach Dantonio’s system.