Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Know Thy Enemy: Confident Hoosiers looking to pull off upset

September 18, 2018
Sophomore tailback Connor Heyward (11) runs down the field during the game against Utah State on Aug. 31 at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans defeated the Aggies; 38-31.
Sophomore tailback Connor Heyward (11) runs down the field during the game against Utah State on Aug. 31 at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans defeated the Aggies; 38-31. —
Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

Know Thy Enemy is a weekly Q&A where the perspective changes from the eyes of the The State News to the eyes of the student newspaper of Michigan State football's opponent.

After having the week off, Big Ten play will officially begin as Michigan State gets ready to face the Indiana Hoosiers. 

Indiana is coming off a 38-10 win against Ball State on Saturday night, improving their record to 3-0.

The No. 23 Spartans are coming off a bye-week to take on the Hoosiers in their third straight night game of the season on Saturday. The State News talked to Cameron Drummond, football columnist for the Indiana Daily Student to get a better understanding of the Hoosiers. 

Editor's note: this article was slightly edited for clarification purposes. 

 Q: What can MSU fans expect out of true freshman RB Stevie Scott? Is there anything that surprised you with him from the game against Ball State? How about fellow freshman RB Ronnie Walker Jr who made his first appearance? Will he appear again? 

A: So it's been kind of interesting because going into the season Morgan Ellison kind of burst onto the scene being IU's best running option as a freshman last year as being projected as the starter. He was then suspended for a violation of team rules and he's still suspended going into the MSU game. In IU's opening game this season at Florida National, we had Cole Gest as the starting running back, but he tore his ACL in the first half. IU wasn't really left with too many options because their two primary running backs were out of the first half of the first game. Stevie Scott comes in and takes on most of the carries in that second half against FIU and does OK for himself, but the Virginia game is really when he came on to the scene and he had 204 rushing yards, which was the second most all-time by a IU freshman. The thing that kind of stuck out was how physical he is. He really embraces contact, he runs over people and he's not afraid to lower his shoulder and get a couple of extra yards. 

Ronnie Walker was a highly rated recruit, a four star out of Virginia and he actually had a bit of an injury in summer and an early part of fall camp, so we really didn't see a lot from him or hear a lot from him. Tom Allen (head coach) said today, "He's going to be the primary secondary back to compliment Stevie Scott." So MSU fans can expect a one-two punch from guys who are pretty physical and guys who aren't afraid to run down hill against the Spartan defense.

Q: IU defeated Ball State 38-10 on Saturday and defeated other opponents this season with a very wide scoring gap making them 3-0, what have they done differently and how can this play out into Big Ten play?

A: Peyton Ramsey being the starting quarterback for IU from the very beginning has kind of helped IU's offense. Last season under Richard Lagow (former quarterback), IU was a very passing happy team. They had very minimal success running the football, the offense line got ravaged by injuries, so during the first three games of nonconference play this year IU has had a little bit more stability and a little bit more variation in their play calling. Injuries have also not hit this IU team this hard as they have for Hoosier teams in years past. Having a bit more balance on the offense side of the ball and IU's defense has had a couple of young players really step up. 

Q: The defense held the Cardinals into some third-and-long situations, how do you think this will play out against the Spartans?

A: They way it's worked out for IU the past couple weeks is just they have been kind of gassed really badly in opening drives against Virginia and Ball State, but the defense has come back and really shut the door on the Claviers and Cardinals for basically the rest of the game. I think IU's defense will just gain confidence from that performance. Obviously Ball State is really a low-tiered MAC team and they are no where near the athleticism of a team like Michigan State, but at the same time with a defense that has not only a bunch of young players, but a mix a juniors and seniors who haven't had much time on the field. Just being able for those guys to have actual success in a game-like setting does them a world of good heading into what is probably IU's biggest game of the season to date. 

Q: Who are some other players on the team should fans look out for that can be a major threat to Michigan State’s offense or defense that has not been on the radar before and can be a game changer? 

A: While IU has had a lot of success in their running game so far and Peyton Ramsey doesn't have the biggest arm in the world, they do some things kind of different on offense to keep their variance up. They have a guy named Reese Taylor, who is a freshman and was Mr. Football in the state of Indiana last year as a senior in high school. They have gotten the football in his hands and he has done some damage on the football field a lot and does a really good job of creating a spark and a moment of electricity. 

We have a guy named J-Shun Harris who has torn three ACLs and is back again as IU's main punt returner. He took a punt 86 yards to the house against Ball State and IU's special teams has been pretty lackluster this season up until that punt return touchdown. He is feeling good and if he can break a couple ones loose past Michigan State, that's probably the x-factor that IU's going to need to be able to pull off, or to even come close to pulling off an upset against the Spartans.

Q: What is your score prediction and why?

A: Before the season, I think I said IU was going to go 8-4 mainly because I'm a columnist and I actually want to be right about something for a change. I genuinely think IU is actually going to pull the upset in this game just because it's kind of weird for Michigan State to have a bye-week right in between the Arizona State loss and this IU game and it's probably going to be something close to a sellout in Bloomington, which is a very rare occurrence for any kind of football game featuring the Hoosiers. They have momentum and they have confidence. I think Michigan State has been a bit overrated so far this season and I think IU will probably get lucky and will have a big special team's play in the final five or six minutes of the fourth quarter … so I'll take the Hoosiers to win. 

Score: 20-17 Hoosiers 

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