Breaking Down the MSU Offense with Dave Warner
Dave Warner's press briefing is above. Jim Bollman was available via teleconference. His comments are linked HERE
IMPROVING MSU'S OFFENSE
"Obviously, everybody I'm sure is looking to see what we're gonna do to improve our offense and I think those things are still out there to be answered. Certainly, I think, if you look at what we did last year, we came up short in a lot of cases scoring-wise, and I think a lot of things led to that."
"I'm sure a lot of it has to do with being a little bit more creative, a little bit more imaginative with our offense. But, it's still going to be Coach Dantonio's offense. We are certainly going to tweak things and adjust things a little bit, to fit Coach Dantonio's philosophy, but at the same time make us more productive." -Warner
Most fans were clamouring for a new offensive coordinator well before Dan Roushar took a job to coach running backs with the New Orleans Saints. While I do believe that MSU would bode well to have a dual threat type of offensive system (given the right quarterback), I'm not going to blame Roushar's play-calling for the offensive woe's.
Sure the offensive output took a sharp drop from 2011 to 2012, but I believe it was mostly do to the attrition of graduating players.
From the QB position, MSU lost Kirk Cousins, and with it, his 3,316 passing yards (236.9 ypg). At receiver, the Spartans lost three veterans in B.J. Cunningham, Keshawn Martin and Keith Nichol. Think about this - those three combined to average 203.7 of total offense per game and 22 total touchdowns. That's a ton of production to suddenly be missing.
That's the long of the short - not to mention that the offensive line lost Travis Jackson and Fou Fonoti.
2011: 390.4 ypg (4th in Big 10)
2012: 359.3 ypg (9th in Big 10)
2011: 31 ppg (3rd)
2012: 20.0 ppg (10th)
AN OFFENSE FOCUSED ON THE QB
"Our offense is focused around the quarterback, you know what I mean? We're going to tailor our offense around what the quarterback does best. As you look at last year, certainly, our pass game was not what we wanted it to be and there were a lot factors for that.
Andrew (Maxwell) needs to play a little bit better. Our offensive line needs to protect a little bit better. Our receivers need to run a little bit better routes, catch the ball a little bit better. The backs to need block a little bit better. It's a full team deal." - Warner
It's tough for me to fully judge Andrew off of his first season. The results weren't always pretty, but when you combine the offensive inexperience as a whole (not just Maxwell), what results is an offense producing just twenty points per game.
Additionally, the expectations were probably too high for him to begin with. After all, it's tough being the guy to follow Kirk Cousins. For comparison's sake Maxwell threw 27 fewer passes for 716 fewer yards than Kirk Cousins from 2011 to 2012 (In one fewer game too).
In terms of accuracy and efficiency from the quarterback position, I thought Andrew acquitted himself nicely in the first half of the season despite the fact that he was trying to find a rhythm with his receivers. In the first six games of the season, Andrew was completing 56.4-percent of his passes while throwing for 1,428 yards (238 ypg). In the final seven games of the season however, he only completed 48.4-percent and 1,178 yards (168.3 ypg). That to me was an indication of him trying to do too much as the pressure built, along with a more difficult schedule (of course).
With experience, players improve. I, for one, believe the improvement for Andrew will be significant.
REPLACING LE'VEON BELL AND DION SIMS
"...Both of those guys were our offense." - Warner
REPLACING LE'VEON, SPECIFICALLY
"As you look at some of our run game from this past year, it's hard to imagine it without Le'Veon. Now at the same time, we have some young guys that I think have a chance of coming in and doing some good things."
"We have some guys on our football team now that are going to get a great opportunity. Nick Hill certainly is a guy that's showed he can do some good things, given when he's been in there. Jeremy Langford's a guy that has bounced around a little bit and sort of settled at running back and has shown some good flashes."
"So the question's out there who that guy is going to be, or who those guys are going to be at running back, but it's going to be very important for us to find the answer for that." - Warner
We all know the insane numbers Le'Veon Bell posted in 2012 despite running behind an oft-injured offensive line.
All told, Le'Veon will go down as one of the top backs in MSU history (you can debate where he ranks). He finished 2012 with 1,793 yards (2nd all time in a single season), 12 touchdowns, eight, 100-yard games and three, 200-yard performances on the season.
Overall, Bell finishes his career ranked 7th all time in rushing with 3,346 yards, which leaves him behind TJ Duckett and Sederick Irvin for career yardage by 3-year backs. His 33 rushing touchdowns puts him 6th on the all-time list.
Bell was also an effective pass-catcher out of the backfield as well, racking up 32 catches for 167 and a TD, adding up to 1,822 yards of total offense. In other words, he accounted for 39-percent of MSU's offensive yardage.
So, what's on the horizon for Coach Warner's run game next season?
2012: 12 carries, 48 yards, 1 TD
2012: 9 carries, 25 yards, 0 TD
From the High School ranks:
Gerald Holmes (Flint Carman-Ainsworth)
2012: 94 carries, 1,023 yards, 14 TD
R.J. Shelton (Beaver Dam HS, Wisconsin)
2012: 149 carries, 1,302 yards, 15 TD