August 31, 2018
Lansing State Journal columnist Graham Couch gives his initial thoughts on the No. 12 Michigan State Spartans’ 38-31 win over Utah State Friday night at Spartan Stadium.

1. That push up front simply won’t do
Forget the Big Ten race or the College Football Playoff conversation, if the Spartans simply hope to finish better than fourth in the East Division, Friday’s push by the offensive line won’t cut it. LJ Scott didn’t have a carry for more than 4 yards until his 10th carry. He didn’t have a rush of more than 7 yards until his 16th attempt — and, for the most part, he had nowhere to go.
MSU shuffled its line, moving Matt Allen to center, Tyler Higby to left tackle and freshman Blake Bueter to left guard as it searched for a surge. In short-yardage situations MSU used Brian Lewerke on sneaks rather than let the play unfold with Scott, and on third down on the goal line in the fourth quarter, MSU threw the ball rather than taking a third shot with Scott.
MSU’s per-carry average was bolstered a tad by big runs by Connor Heyward and Lewerke in the second half — and it oddly abandoned Heyward until the last drive. Big gainers on the ground are important. It can’t all be a grind. But more important is the ability to reel off 5-, 6-, and 7-yard runs with consistency. Especially against a Mountain West opponent that, no matter its experience on the defensive front, offered less resistance than MSU will see against much of its Big Ten slate. It’s those regular chunks that wear down defenses and create a demoralizing pick-your-poison situation for opponents, considering MSU’s more-than-capable passing attack.
MSU struggled to move the pile with consistency a year ago against Bowling Green and Western Michigan and it foreshadowed a season where the ground game labored too often. Improvement can happen. But this was a rough start.

2. MSU’s passing game will do just fine – if protection improves
Brian Lewerke made mistakes. He overthrew a would-be touchdown pass to Cody White on MSU’s first possession, settling for a 40-yard gain. His pick-six interception late in the third quarter made the outcome dicey for a long while. But MSU’s passing game is in good shape — made plainly clear by the playmaking and gumption on the final drive.
There is a clear chemistry between Lewerke and his three wideouts — Cody White, Darrell Stewart Jr. and Felton Davis III. Each of those guys made notable plays Friday night, none better than White’s third-down vise-grip grab, followed by Davis’ lay-out deep catch on the game-winning drive. This wasn’t midseason form for Lewerke and Co., but it was plenty effective.
That crew will become what it hopes to become, I think, if the ground game gets going and Lewerke is protected. He saw a fair amount of pressure from Utah State, which sacked him three times and hurried him at least four more.
Some of this falls on the offensive line that also struggled in the running game — sophomore Jordan Reid was beaten badly off the right edge leading to one sack. Some of it was blitz protections.
Lewerke is the franchise, even more so with MSU’s ground game not bearing much fruit. MSU protected him well last year, allowing just 1.8 sacks per game. The protection has to be better than it was Friday for several reasons, including giving Lewerke a chance to last the season.

3. MSU’s defense found its footing and then lost it, then survived
Utah State’s Jordan Love turned out to be a decent QB, with mobility, running a tempo offense, with a veteran offensive line in front of him. That’s a pain to defend. And after rough start, MSU’s defense got a handle on things for a while. Pressure from Jacub Panasiuk created a Khari Willis interception that soon after put the Spartans out in front.
But while Utah State couldn’t run the football effectively in the traditional sense, it moved it. And moved it when MSU need a stop to win the game. MSU’s defense showed flashes of a group that could be really good. But this ain’t the “No Fly Zone” or a crew that looks capable right now of demoralizing an offense.
The Spartans will see tempo again — at least as soon as Indiana on Sept. 22. Probably more often given what transpired Friday.
That the final tip by and pick by Joe Bachie averted disaster — a loss that would have changed this season. There’s plenty to shore up.
Latest News
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
Jamie Lee Curtis talks 'Halloween Kills' and Laurie Strode's Legacy
October 15, 2021
-xyHjfTA2SY
Nicholas Braun, Jeremy Strong, Brian Cox and the cast of ‘Succession’ on the Red Carpet
October 15, 2021
O19yMBvhR48
Dave Chappelle Ignites Controversy, 'Halloween Kills' Hits Theaters | The Take
October 15, 2021
xOIUz0WuFS8
Kim Kardashian and Kanye Likely Won't Reconcile, She Now Owns Family Home | TMZ TV
October 15, 2021
attkYidh_Z8
Joe Rogan Stands Up to CNN | The TMZ Podcast
October 15, 2021
WgmPhCjlGoc
'The Masked Singer' Jester Costume Bulge Too Hot for TV | TMZ TV
October 15, 2021
0lnS7Gmu7O8
Vicki Gunvalson accuses ex Steve Lodge of cheating, lying and using her | Page Six Celebrity News
October 15, 2021
3RB_p9_FZ-Y
Katey Sagal hit by car while crossing the street, taken to hospital | Page Six Celebrity News
October 15, 2021
5kT2IIVMy0o
Erika Jayne’s threat to Sutton Stracke has been revealed & more from this week on Bravo | Page Six
October 15, 2021
X0y9D9aOBDQ
Necessary Realness: Will Morgan Survive the Dalgona Game? | E! News
October 16, 2021
QZJoaCiO3sA
Selena Gomez Says This Social Media Move "Saved My Life" | E! News
October 15, 2021
6DoqMGH3bRQ
Salma Hayek Explains Why Angelina Jolie SMASHED Her Face Into Cake | E! News
October 15, 2021
gTZPVmxRMfU
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
19
Nov
ASIAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group H
Sydney FC - Shanghai SIPG
17
Nov
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Spain - Germany
14
Nov
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Germany - Ukraine
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester City - Liverpool
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - Aston Villa
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Valencia - Real Madrid
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Verona
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Bromwich Albion - Tottenham Hotspur
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Bologna - Napoli
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Genoa - Roma
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Atalanta - Inter Milan
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Lazio - Juventus
08
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Bayer Leverkusen - Borussia Monchengladbach
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leicester City - Wolves
08
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Wolfsburg - Hoffenheim
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Valladolid - Athletic Bilbao
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Levante - Alaves
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Sociedad - Granada CF
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Torino - Crotone
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Getafe - Villarreal
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Borussia Dortmund - Bayern Munich
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Everton - Manchester United
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Chelsea - Sheffield United
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Atletico Madrid - Cadiz
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Barcelona - Real Betis
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Augsburg - Hertha Berlin
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Stuttgart - Eintracht Frankfurt
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
RB Leipzig - SC Freiburg
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Rotherham - Preston NE
07
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Parma - Fiorentina
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Watford - Coventry
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Norwich City - Swansea City
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Blackburn - QPR
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Derby County - Barnsley
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Huddersfield - Luton
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Nottingham Forest - Wycombe Wanderers
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Ham United - Fulham
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Sheffield Wednesday - Millwall
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Brentford - Middlesbrough
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Birmingham - Bournemouth
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Sevilla - Osasuna
07
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Benevento - Spezia
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Crystal Palace - Leeds
04
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group G
Ferencvaros - Juventus
04
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group G
Barcelona - Dynamo K.
03
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group A
Salzburg - Bayern Munich
03
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group D
Atalanta - Liverpool
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
zWJ3MxW_HWA L1eLanNeZKg i1XRgbyUtOo -g9Qziqbif8 0vmRhiLHE2U JFCZUoa6MYE UfN5PCF5EUo 2PV55f3-UAg W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.