Tuesday, October 4, 2022

HALF: Penix tears apart secondary, MSU trails 29-8

September 17, 2022
<p>Michael Penix Jr. catches the snap during Washington&#x27;s game versus Kent State at Husky Stadium on Sept. 3, 2022 (Photo Courtesy of Maddy Grassy/ The Daily UW).</p>

Michael Penix Jr. catches the snap during Washington's game versus Kent State at Husky Stadium on Sept. 3, 2022 (Photo Courtesy of Maddy Grassy/ The Daily UW).

Michigan State football is not off to the start is was hoping. After a 2-0 start to the season, the Spartans trail 29-8 at the half. Here are some takeaways from the first 30 minutes of play.

Injuries are stacking up

After losing junior linebacker Darius Snow with a season-ending injury against Western Michigan, injuries have continued to plague the Spartans. Fifth-year safety Xavier Henderson was also injured in that game and has yet to make his return. His timetable is unclear.

Also unclear is what happened to redshirt senior Jayden Reed who didn’t make the trip to Seattle. He collided with the visitors bench after being pushed out of bounds against Akron last week. It was reported he cut his back, but it’s unclear at this time the full extent of his injury. Regardless, his loss is being felt tonight. 

Redshirt senior defensive tackle Jacob Slade also remained in East Lansing tonight. He went down against Akron and like Reed, the full extent of his injury is unknown.

Junior defensive end Jeff Pietrowski Jr. went down in the first half and limped off the field with the help of the trainers. His status is also unknown.

This is not a trend Michigan State wants to continue to see as the season progresses.The Spartans have been incredibly unlucky with injuries early in the season. Key veteran leaders have gone down, forcing younger, less experienced players to step up.

Offense hasn’t made its way to Seattle

The Michigan State offense only had two possessions in the first quarter: the first resulted in an early punt and the second, a safety for Washington after fifth-year running back Jarek Broussard tripped in the Spartan end zone. Both the running and passing games failed to get much of anything going.

Junior redshirt quarterback Payton Thorne still hasn’t returned to the level of play he was displaying last season. In what is supposed to be his first real test, he’s off to a slow start. While his aim appears to have improved, he isn’t having the kind of production the Spartans need to see from their veteran quarterback.

He completed 92% of his passes for 80 yards, but his offensive firepower appeared at the end of the half, while his counterpart came ready to play from the beginning.

The running back duo of Jalen Berger and Broussard also haven’t been able to get anything going after a monster game against Akron. Berger was the leader in the first half, and he only had 11 rushing yards.

The only small offensive bright spot came from sophomore wide receiver Keon Coleman, who connected with Thorne a few times to show his progress. The young receiver finished the first half with 40 yards and a touchdown, a welcome sign for the Spartans who will need their young receivers to step up in Reed’s absence.

Defense has no answer for Michael Penix Jr.

Former Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr may have left the Big Ten for Washington, but he's still tearing up the Michigan State defense. He completed 74% of his passes for a ridiculous 278 yards and three touchdowns in just the first half.

In addition to the offense, this game is supposed to also serve as a test for the defense, more specifically the secondary, and they are failing. 

They look like the secondary of the last year that was last in the country and easily picked apart by offenses left and right. Although they are currently plagued by injuries, they need to step up if MSU hopes to come back in the second half. 

In addition to Penix’s 278 yards, the Washington running game had 39 yards. While It's clear the secondary is the sore spot, the defense as a whole must come out of the locker room in the second half with a new game plan.

They’ll need to get momentum back on their side especially after giving up a last second touchdown again to Penix Jr to end the half.

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