FanPost

My take on the game with Sparty

My take ...

The game seemed to go according to plan for the Irish. Make MSU one dimensional and on offense, a balanced attack with better ball security. I would submit they accomplished all three plus the bonus of a big KO return.

Clearly the defense did its job yesterday. MSU's power run game was stuffed. They were forced to throw a lot more often that they are comfortable doing. Once the Irish got a solid lead, they went into bend but don't break mode, and the Irish defense did not break much. Sure MSU got a lot of passing yards and 1st downs, but they only got one TD, and that's the only stat that matters. It was a great team effort defensively with so many contributing so much to the effort. Blanton and Lynch were the two that stood out for me. Lynch clearly has ridiculous skills, but I still worry about his lack of size. If they continue to use him as part of a 6 man rotation along the DL, he should be fine. HSmith looked great, too. Real solid back there. I was also glad to see GGray have a good game, especially after the completion on the underthrown ball early in the game that looked a lot like the Michigan game.

On offense, the Irish established the ability to run early with both Wood and JGray gashing them early. The early INT by Rees (all on him that time) seemed to unnerve him a bit, but when they needed him to make some big throws in the 2nd half especially, he made them. He played TO free football in the 2nd half, not giving Sparty any freebies. Some of that can be attributed to more conservative playcalling by BK in the 2nd half, but again in the last TD drive, Rees had to come up with some big throws and he did. I like how Riddick and TJones are getting more attention from Rees. Hopefully the near hysterical calls to bench Rees will be silenced for a while. For the second week in a row, the OL struggled to open holes for the run game when the offense was trying to run out some clock. This worries me some.

Special teams were a mixed bag. GA III was good news/bad news on KO return. The TD was great but he looked tentative on a couple of the other returns and his ball security worries me. Punt returns continue to be a black hole, but at least no one here blamed Rees for the fumbled punt. KO coverage was fine as long as Brzinda kicked it out of the end zone. Ruffer did what he needed to do and Turk was adequate. Still a lot of improvement is needed on special teams.

Bottom line, an excellent effort in a must win game. Obviously this team is still very much a work in progress, but there is a lot of reason for optimism. At the risk of upsetting some here, Rees is clearly the right choice to be the QB. He showed he could rebound from a bad mistake (the INT) on his part and play error free ball thereafter, hopefully quieting the critics. The talent upgrade on the team is becoming more apparent each week, especially on the defensive side of the ball. This team has a high ceiling, the rest of the season should be fun to watch.



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