MSU looks to improve turnover margin against Iowa
Three weeks into the season, MSU's offensive turnovers have been well documented at six fumbles and two interceptions. But on defense, head coach Mark Dantonio and the Spartans are frustrated that they aren't creating turnovers of their own.
“Sometimes they come in batches, sometimes you get hot,” Dantonio said. “But those have to come as well. Those are the equalizing factors in a football game. I think that's how a football game gets lopsided at times. You look across the country, it's going all over the place. It always has been.”
Defensive ends and special teams coach Mark Snyder reiterated that turnovers can come in batches and said that a key for the Spartans in forcing turnovers is making their opponents run the ball.
“Well, you know we keep talking about running to the ball," Snyder said. "Good things happen when you run to the ball. What I've found is, typically they come in bunches. When they come, they come in bunches. You have to credit some of the teams we've played, they're talking about ball protection, they know they can't turn the ball over. But we're working on it consistently every day.”
If the Spartans want their opponents to test their defensive front and linebackers by running the ball, this weekend's game against Iowa will be a good opportunity.
The Hawkeyes have a set of running backs that Snyder is keeping a close eye on, with Akrum Wadley leading the way and averaging 84.5 yards rushing per game, which places him eighth in the conference.
“They've got a couple of really good running backs,” Snyder said. “Kirk (Ferentz) is an offensive line guy, so they are very well coached up front. They are just a good, fundamentally sound football team.”
As a team, Iowa ranks tenth in the conference in average rushing yards per game with 155.5, while the Spartans are fourth, averaging 220.7 yards.
“We want them to run to the ball,” Snyder said. “Good things happen when you run to the ball, and we're doing that right now. Our kids are playing extremely hard, and when you play hard like that, good things happen.”
As for the pass rush, which has recorded six sacks so far this season, Snyder has been pleased with what he has seen on film.
“I like what I see, and again, those come in bunches, too,” Snyder said. “When I evaluate that thing on a Sunday, I evaluate sack opportunities, not how many passes were thrown. … We’ve been pleased so far.”