Know Thy Enemy is a weekly Q&A where the perspective changes from the eyes of The State News to the eyes of the student newspaper of Michigan State football's opponent. This week, The State News' Jared Ramsey spoke with The Indiana Daily Student’s multimedia football reporter Patrick Felts.
Michigan State takes on Indiana in its second Big Ten East battle of the season. MSU is looking to move to 7-0 and continue its revenge tour against the Hoosiers after they beat the Spartans 24-0 in Spartan Stadium last year.
The Indiana Daily Student’s Patrick Felts previewed the upcoming game for the Old Brass Spitoon.
Q: Indiana is struggling this year at 2-3 after almost winning the Big Ten last year. What’s happening?
A: What Indiana does every week has been a disappointment I would say in one form or another.
Q: How so?
A: So the Cincinnati game they played really well for about, the first half I would say, the whole first half they played well. (senior linebacker) Micah McFadden getting ejected ... completely changed that game … Pretty much from there, it felt like that game had changed, and that that was when I felt like they needed to win to really cement themselves to the team that they thought they were coming into the season.
And last week against Penn State was just an utter catastrophe, two weeks ago rather. Everything that could have gone wrong did. Not one thing went right except McFadden played well and he's the one consistent piece this season. Not only did (quarterback Michael) Penix struggle, but he also got hurt, which is a common theme for his career. The injuries have been piling up and obviously, we'll be seeing Jack Tuttle at quarterback this week.
Q: What have you seen from Tuttle? Obviously, he hasn’t played that much with 18 pass attempts on the year, but what have you seen and what do you expect from him on Saturday?
A: We've seen some garbage time from him against Idaho and he led a touchdown drive in that game … But in that Penn State game, he looked a lot more composed than Michael Penix did. Michael Penix this season has been jittery and inconsistent. There have been some really nice throws he's made that have reminded you of the quarterback that lit the Big Ten on fire a season ago. But for the most part, it's been pretty much every single game, just mind-numbing interceptions and he seems scared in the pocket. I think that might be the injuries catching up with him. Just looking at him, he doesn't seem like the same player anymore. Tuttle did seem like a lot better of a player last week.
Q: On the other side of the ball, you’ve talked about Micah McFadden being that kind of guy so far for Indiana, but who are some of the other players MSU fans should keep an eye out for Saturday?
A: Well McFadden, first, because I want to harp on this again. Micah McFadden is an elite linebacker, he's the heart and soul of this defense. And when they play well as a unit, it starts and ends with him and he's gonna give you 100% on every single play. He's that kind of player. He is one of the single best linebackers in the entire country. And I think Big Ten fans are well familiar with that at this point after we've seen him for so many years. Last season Indiana, one of their biggest strengths was generating turnovers. That hasn't happened quite as much this season.
But if they're going to generate turnovers, I think it's going to be Devon Matthews, safety, who last season had a couple of big interceptions. They know him as monster Matthews. He's a very talented defensive back and another defensive back, who I think is a talented group of defensive backs in general, is Marcelino Ball who plays the Husky position which is a position on Indiana's defense as a hybrid linebacker-safety ... He's the type of guy that you want on a Big Ten defense especially on a team that has thought of itself as a big competitor this season and he's a guy who did miss last season — he tore his ACL in the preseason — but he's come back and he's been good this year.
Q: What are your final thoughts about the game? What are your predictions for Saturday?
A: If you want to establish some of that positive momentum that you had last season and show that this program is still trending in the right direction even as disappointing as the season's been, then you need to get a win over one of Ohio State, Michigan or Michigan State. so the most likely of those in my mind is this week. Do I think they get it done? Ultimately no, I don't think they're gonna win this game.
Offensively for Indiana, it's been a struggle this year and Michigan State's got a good defense. I think the offense does improve this week. I think if it does improve too, it's going to be on the back of Jack Tuttle. And Tuttle did show me last week that I think he's a better quarterback right now than Michael Penix. The offense should be better this week. I think Indiana loses a close one. I think my final I'm gonna say is 24-20.
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