Monday, October 5, 2009

Can't Win Them All

For 55 minutes on Saturday, it looked we had gone back to last year: receivers dropping balls, lineman and running blocks missing blocks, defense giving up big plays on third down, players looking like they didn't know their assignments, and the team generally sleepwalking through a game.
And then Tate Forcier reminded us why it isn't last year. The coaches basically gave up trying to run the ball, MSU abandoned what had been working on offense, and Forcier led not one by two long drives down the field in a driving rain without using so much as a timeout to tie the game. A scramble one way, a scramble another way, a pass to a receiver just past the first down line, a bullet on a slant catching safeties flat-footed. All of this while quite visibly in pain, wincing with every hit and every glancing blow. It was quite a sight to behold, and you could almost here spartans across the state cursing to themselves, "Oh No, we can't lose like this again"
But for once, the bounces didn't go our way in overtime, and we lost for the second time in a row in this rivalry for the first time in our lifetime. Forcier tried to make one pass too many, Troy Woolfolk missed one last tackle, and Larry Caper scampered into the end zone bringing joy to most of Spartan Stadium.
This loss hurts because this was probably our most winnable road game, with the probable exception of Illinois. And State was trying real hard for a while to give us this game: personal foul penalties (although the last one they got was a bad call), bad turnovers, trying to much to run the ball when they could've just passed us into oblivion, etc. And we just couldn't, or wouldn't take it.
But in the big picture, this is not a horrible loss. An overtime loss on the road in a rivalry game, while painful, is not something that will torpedo the season. Despite the good start, anyone who told you they expected us to win the Big Ten this year is either lying, or 12 years old. This is probably a 7-5, maybe 8-4 team. Not sure this loss changes that.

-For the second straight year I think Dantonio out coached Rich Rod. I thought they looked like they made a decision to kick away from Stonum on kickoffs, and they ran a little toss sweep off the three receiver set that was quite effective. Obviously the fake punt call, whether it was the coaches' call or Mesko's read was horrible. And I would have liked to have seen Robinson in earlier, but as a slot or a RB, in with Forcier. There were rumors this week they were working on 2 QB sets in practice, but we didn't see any of that.
-One thing that Dantonio did screw up, IMO, is putting Keith Nichols in. Perhaps Cousins was hurt, but if he wasn't, there was no good reason to bring Nichols in. Unlike Robinson for us, Nichols doesn't really provide any new look that Cousins doesn't.
-The receivers really did not help Forcier much at all during the game. Koger dropped a couple, as did Kelvin Grady.
-We miss David Molk something fierce. Hope he's back for Penn State.
-Considering the day didn't appear to have many great match ups when it started, there were some great finishes. our course our game went to overtime, Notre Dame beat Washington in OT, and LSU and Georgia played a classic where they scored 13 points in the first 57 minutes of the game, and 20 in the last three. LSU has enough talent to make that Florida game interesting, if they can find a way to be more consistent on offense. You can bet that Tebow will take more than a coupld of hits. I wouldn't try and run him too much, I wouldn't want to give one of those LSU safeties a chance for a kill shot on the Savior.
-In that game there were a pair of celebration penalties that were just ridiculous. It seems like every five years or so, the NCAA decides to try and legislate out the emotion of the game, and we get these stupid calls deciding games.