4 questions for MSU football as it heads into the bye week
The bye week is here, and for the second straight year, the Spartans have it early.
It’s led to some mixed reactions, but it’s here nonetheless.
And so far, so good — head coach Mark Dantonio’s squad is almost perfect. The 2-0 start is a welcome sight and the defense has yet to allow a touchdown.
Quarterback Brian Lewerke has shown some playmaking abilities, especially with his legs. The running back rotation has had its bright spots, LJ Scott leading the way with his two touchdowns against Western Michigan.
However, there are still some concerns for MSU. Here are four questions surrounding the football program’s performance heading into the bye week.
How will the Spartans respond to the bright lights of primetime?
Let’s face it, these Spartans are young. A bulk of true and redshirt freshmen earn playing time and contribute right off the bat.
Dantonio said his players are going to be excited to play any given Saturday — it’s a natural reaction. Some of these Spartans are playing their third ever college game against Notre Dame.
So how will they respond to the new, bright lights of Spartan Stadium? This is MSU’s first chance to make an impression to a national audience after flying under the radar the first two weeks.
The early-season jitters should be gone, but there is some hype for a primetime game at 8 p.m. against a historical rival in Notre Dame.
Will the defense yield its first touchdown of the season?
Realistically, there’s a good chance the defense allows its first touchdown of the season. So far, only the offense and special teams have allowed opponents to reach the end zone, an impressive feat for a young defense.
However, the Fighting Irish should be the first real test for the Spartans this season. Western Michigan and Bowling Green both have playmakers — Darius Phillips included, of course — but Notre Dame has consistently recruited well every year.
The defense has held its ground thus far, pressuring the quarterback well and stuffing the run. The secondary has forced a few turnovers as well, against young, Mid-American Conference quarterbacks.
Notre Dame, after Malik Zaire transferred out and DeShone Kizer graduated, also feature a new man under center. Brandon Wimbush, a junior, carries the reigns and features a game similar to Lewerke.
He’s ran for 146 yards rushing this season on 28 carries. His throws are much more suspect, though, going 37 of 70 for for 394 yards throwing thus far.
How will the running back rotation shake out?
Gerald Holmes got the start against the Broncos, but it was Scott who got the most touches and made the biggest impact on the game.
It wasn’t because the other two tailbacks — Holmes and Madre London — ran noticeably worse. Dantonio said all three have made their mark through touches.
So all eyes are on who will emerge as the main back. There’s been a lot of hype for Scott, but no one has clearly gotten separation from the other two.
The depth chart was not released because of the bye week, but the last one before the game against the Broncos had them all atop with an “or” signifying one of the three may start.
The Spartans have ran some sets for two backs in at the same time. Of course, only man can get the ball given or thrown to him.
Will anyone join Darrell Stewart Jr. as a playmaker amongst the wide receivers?
Stewart has been everywhere on the field for MSU. Whether returning a punt, running a jet sweep or catching passes, the redshirt sophomore wideout has been a sheer playmaker.
So who will join him? The easy bet is Felton Davis III, his “best friend.” Davis has amassed eight catches for 104 yards receiving on the season, including some jaw-dropping, one-handed snags.
Elsewhere, though, Trishton Jackson has seen his fair share of playing time, though he has yet to produce, amassing just three catches for 41 yards receiving.
A Cody White or Hunter Rison may emerge, but they haven’t seen the field enough to make a significant mark.
The more targets for Lewerke, the easier his job will be.