Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Know Thy Enemy: Michigan State meets Minnesota for first time since 2017

September 23, 2022
	<p>Minnesota linebacker Aaron Hill tackles junior running back Jeremy Langford on Nov. 30, 2013, at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans defeated the Golden Gophers, 14-3. Danyelle Morrow/The State News</p>

Minnesota linebacker Aaron Hill tackles junior running back Jeremy Langford on Nov. 30, 2013, at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans defeated the Golden Gophers, 14-3. Danyelle Morrow/The State News

Photo by Danyelle Morrow | The State News

Know Thy Enemy is a Q&A where the perspective changes from the eyes of The State News to the eyes of the student newspaper of Michigan State's opponent. This week, The State News' football beat writer Jenna Malinowski spoke with sports reporter Matthew Kennedy of The Minnesota Daily ahead of Saturday night’s matchup. 

After a quick 2-0 start to the season, Michigan State football suffered its first loss on the road against Washington last week. With no time to look back and plenty of time to get back on track, the Spartans move on to Big Ten play as they welcome Minnesota this Saturday.

Ahead of the upcoming matchup, The State News’ football beat writer Jenna Malinowski spoke with Matthew Kennedy of The Minnesota Daily to get a preview of what the Spartans can expect on Saturday:

The biggest thing this week is the injury to Chris Autman-Bell. How do you think the team will adapt to that and how do you think their first game without him will be?

"It's a big blow because first of all, him and Tanner Morgan have excellent chemistry with each other. They both came from Western Michigan with P.J. Fleck. They were recruits going to Western Michigan, and when P.J. Fleck left Western Michigan and came to Minnesota they followed him. So those three Fleck, Morgan and Autman-Bell have just been together through and through. So it's a big blow just on that standpoint, from chemistry with Tanner Morgan, and basically team camaraderie overall. Autman-Bell is the Gophers, in my opinion, he's our top slot receiver. Kirk Ciarrocca, in his offense, he likes to beat teams by running an RPO slant-style offense and usually that gets the ball in his hands, his No. 1 wide receiver doing a slant and an RPO. That's where Chris Autman-Bell shines because he's a slot receiver, so without him someone else is gonna have to take that place. ... I expect their new slot guy to fill in for Autman-Bell will be either Daniel Jackson or Michael Brown-Stephens, but yeah, it is a pretty big blow not just from a physical athletic standpoint but from just a team camaraderie standpoint."

After Michigan State's loss last week, the team kind of got exposed for having little improvement in the secondary. What do you think Minnesota's offense is going to come out with against MSU’s defense?

“I imagine they're gonna have a little bit of the same game plan. What Minnesota wants to do is run you over running the football. They want to get the ground game started quick and early and Mo Ibrahim, out of any back in the country, he's probably one of the best to lean on. I would also expect them to throw it, with Michigan State's banged up secondary, I would expect them to take more shots downfield. Especially with Dylan Wright their wide receiver one, I would expect them to try and target him more on some deep fades or deep crossers or deep posts."

You said that you thought going into this season that this would be their toughest matchup. Does that change a little bit after the loss last week?

"Yeah, it does change a little bit. The loss last week, and I haven't seen the full highlights but you know, I thought Michigan State would have a better defensive performance. I thought their defense would be more put together. If you look, Michael Penix and Washington kind of just carved them up, and their offense I feel like just had a bad day, but yeah, I was surprised at how weak their defense was."

What is your final score prediction and why?

"My final score prediction is going to be Minnesota 23, Michigan State 20. I feel like there's gonna be some field goals kicked, there's definitely gonna be some touchdowns but it's not going to be a high scoring game. It’s gonna be more around in the middle. We played Colorado last week. You guys have Jarek Broussard, who was an insane running back on the Buffaloes before he transferred. I think he's also going to give the Gophers troubles in their front seven, which actually their D line is one of their weakest points of their defense. If Broussard can get going for Michigan State, it's gonna be tough for Minnesota, but I think the Gophers can pull it out and get the win in East Lansing on Saturday."

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