Jim Miller: Sink or Swim
Michigan State heads to Madison to square off against a quality Wisconsin Badger team this Saturday...and once again, the Spartans must find the energy to pick itself off the turf following another last second loss. As we've seen, every single play matters and the Spartans have gone without the big plays all season long, whether it be a game changing interception or explosive touchdown pass. Still, while the close losses hurt, all is not lost for Spartan Nation.
Imagine if the Spartan Gridders were being blown out in games where there was no hope at all. Thanks to the Spartan defense, this has not been the case at all, as the Spartans have been in every game. The effort, intensity, and diligence has been there for the Spartans every game, but it is time for players to execute when it matters. It’s time to make a play! For Michigan State to emerge victorious, it MUST happen this weekend against the Badgers. The players need to feel the impact of a big play and how it directly affects the outcome of a game.
Big games call and beg for big plays because they often determine the outcome. When everything is pretty much equal, the deciding factor is always a big play. Didn’t Michigan make a big play late in the 4th quarter last week, a pass completion to wide receiver Drew Dileo, when it mattered, putting Michigan into Field goal range? Gibbons' field goal kick wasn’t too shabby either in a big pressure packed spot, nailing the game winner with 5 seconds remaining.
The fact of the matter is, there are plenty of big plays to be made by Michigan State this weekend against the Badgers. Running back Montee Ball has a proven track record of coughing the football up when facing the Spartans. Ball has also been relegated to the sideline after suffering from Michigan State’s physical style of play. As Wisconsin pounds the football relentlessly, the ability to force a fumble is one area for a potential big play. Wisconsin also starts a freshman quarterback in Joel Stave who has not seen the type of blitzing defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi will be dialing up. Interceptions from pressure could be another. Plays must be made!
Offensively, Michigan State needs more explosive plays. A bomb for a touchdown or a 40 yard touchdown run are the momentum type of game changing plays that have been lacking all season, mostly due to inexperience. The effort is there, but now they just need to execute it.
Doggie paddling in rough waters to save your life won’t cut it anymore. Michigan State’s young offensive players are no longer considered inexperienced swimmers by the coaching staff. A tough Wisconsin team will force them to swim.
WINNING THE CLOSE ONES
As we know, the Spartans have lost three games in the Big Ten by a combined 6 games. See what the Michigan State coaches and players have to say about getting over the hump: WATCH