Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Michigan State football midseason bye week awards part three

October 16, 2019
MSU marching band reacts to Darrell Stewart Jr.’s touchdown during the homecoming game against Indiana on Sept. 28, 2019 at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans led the Hoosiers 21-14 at halftime.
MSU marching band reacts to Darrell Stewart Jr.’s touchdown during the homecoming game against Indiana on Sept. 28, 2019 at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans led the Hoosiers 21-14 at halftime. —
Photo by Sylvia Jarrus | The State News

The Michigan State football team is reeling coming off of two blowout losses to Ohio State and Wisconsin before entering this week's bye week. Sitting at 4-3, a shot at playing in the Big Ten Championship Game seems unrealistic. But, with five games left, there is still enough time to turn what's quickly turning into a disappointing season into a successful year.

The Spartans host No. 7 Penn State next Saturday before going on their second bye week. Then, Michigan State hosts Illinois before traveling to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan. The Spartans close the year out with a trip to Rutgers before hosting Maryland on senior day. Most of those games are winnable, and should give MSU a shot to not only become bowl eligible, but maybe play in a Florida postseason game. But first, that starts with turning things around during the off-week.

The State News will take a look at the highs and lows through Michigan State's seven games this season, which one can use as storylines to keep an eye on as the season rolls into the final month.

RELATED: Michigan State Football Midseason Bye Week Awards Part One

RELATED: Michigan State Football Midseason Bye Week Awards Part Two

Biggest Surprise of the year

Considerations: WR Darrell Stewart Jr., TE Matt Seybert, DE Raequan Williams

WINNER: Matt Seybert

Giving Seybert this award was pretty simple and easy. That's because very few people even knew who Seybert was before this season.

The 6-foot-4-inch, 252-pound senior tight end from Traverse City, Michigan, began his career at Buffalo University. After one season he made his way to East Lansing, having to sit out the 2016 season due to NCAA transfer rules. He appeared in five games during the 2017 season, playing 26 snaps on Michigan State's offense, but switched to defensive end following the year. He only made three appearances for the Spartans in 2018, all on special teams.

Before this year, Seybert moved back to tight end and has brought production to a position on Michigan State's offensive that has seen little, if any of it in the past two seasons. Seybert has caught 15 passes for 185 yards and three touchdowns, including his first and second career touchdown in Michigan State's 31-10 win at Northwestern.

Seybert's breakout senior year came at the perfect time for the Spartans, who were looking for any spark offensively possible.

Best Senior Player

Considerations: WR Darrell Stewart Jr., LB Joe Bachie, QB Brian Lewerke

WINNER: Darrell Stewart Jr.

This award had more thinking attached to it than the others considering the ample amount of possibilities that truly deserve it. But, based on Stewart's jump from his first three seasons at MSU to his senior year, we will go with him.

The one that once tabbed himself as "Goal line Stew" for having a habit of getting tackled short of the end zone has flipped that narrative this season. Stewart has accumulated 46 catches, 683 yards and four touchdowns in Michigan State's seven games this season.

He entered the year with three touchdowns in his collegiate career, and surpassed that feat in Michigan State's loss to Ohio State. The senior wideout has racked up three games with over 100 yards receiving and has easily been Lewerke's go-to and most reliable downfield target.

Stewart is still on pace to reach over 1,000 yards receiving in his final season at Michigan State. And that will be something to keep an eye on in the Spartans' five remaining games.

Best Offensive Lineman

Considerations: OT Kevin Jarvis, OT Tyler Higby, C Matt Allen

WINNER: NONE

When Jarvis was healthy, he was by far Michigan State's best offensive linemen. But there is nobody on this list that really deserves this title as the group as a whole has been a collective disappointment.

Michigan State ranks 33rd in the nation with 10 sacks allowed this season. And the Spartans are 112th in the county averaging only 117 rushing yards per game and only 3.55 yards per carry.

There have been some moments where signs of improvement were there. The Spartans switched to a zone-blocking scheme against Western Michigan, and Elijah Collins had his best game as MSU's starting running back. Then, in Michigan State's 40-31 win against Indiana, Michigan State didn't give up a single sack.

But the overall resume of the offensive line this season has been lackluster and below average at best. So, this award will remain vacant.

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