The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Behind enemy lines: Michigan State

We had Souichi Terada, a football reporter for The State News, write up a little bit about the Michigan State football team. Terada gave us some insight on what he has seen from the young Spartans this season.
Joshua Housing
Michigan State running back LJ Scott scores a touchdown putting them in the lead with 27 seconds left in the fourth quarter during the Big Ten Championship against Iowa in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015. The Spartans defeated the Hawkeyes, 16-13. (The Daily Iowan/Alyssa Hitchcock)

Both Iowa and MSU fans can’t forget the 2015 Big Ten Championship game. The Spartans came out on top to go to the College Football Playoff, but it was a defensive slugfest nonetheless.

But ever since, the Spartans have struggled to historic standards. Michigan State’s 3-9 season in 2016 was its worst in decades.

Compared to last year, though, there have been a number of changes on both offense and defense.

Breaking in a new quarterback

Last year, while fifth-year Tyler O’Connor was named a captain, there was still a quarterback controversy. Then-redshirt freshman Brian Lewerke earned some starts, but his season prematurely ended due to a broken tibia.

Since O’Connor graduated, Lewerke is now the starter. The quarterback can run and scramble as a dual-threat. His decision-making is spotty at times, as is his arm, but he’s the future of Michigan State and Spartan fans are riding along.

Youth movement

The Spartans are young. Thus far, 12 true freshmen have seen the gridiron and some are making very real contributions.

However, there’s bound to be some growing pains. There’s undoubtedly some talent on this squad, but it’s all still very raw.

RELATED: Around the Big Ten

Three-headed running monster

Looking at the tailback position on the depth chart, the Spartans have three different backs — Madre London, Gerald Holmes and LJ Scott.

All have seen their fair share of playing time. Hawkeye fans most likely know Scott from his famous reach to the end zone.

Michigan State has also ran some sets with a pair of running backs in the game at the same time. Interestingly, though, Lewerke leads the team with yards rushing so far with 206.

Turnover issues

Without three first half turnovers against Notre Dame last weekend, the game would have been much closer. Lewerke threw an interception returned for a touchdown, and Scott fumbled on the goal line.

Turnovers have stuck out like a sore thumb for Michigan State after leading the Big Ten in turnover margins during its glory days.

Linebackers a strength

Michigan State is undoubtedly young, but if there’s one defensive position that is stacked with veterans, it’s the linebackers.

Senior Chris Frey leads the crew, followed closely by fellow starters Andrew Dowell and Joe Bachie. Backups like Byron Bullough and Shane Jones add much-needed depth.

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