After one half, Michigan State football leads Indiana 24-7. Despite a shaky opening drive, both sides of the ball are playing well and the Spartans are in a good place at half, but will need to keep their foot on the gas in order to come away with the win.
Here’s some takeaways from the first 30 minutes of play.
MSU defense startled early by Williams but recovers
After a few quarterback shuffles at Indiana, redshirt sophomore Dexter Williams II got the start today. He presents a unique playing style the Spartans haven’t seen much of this season, relying heavily on running the ball.
Williams got the first score of the game by taking it himself for a 34-yard rush to the end zone on an acrobatic play in which he barely kept a foot in bounds. Their game plan has focused primarily on the ground, with Williams either handing it off to a running back or taking it himself.
He threw just one pass in the first quarter, a misaligned toss into the ground, but led the team in rushing yards with 48.
Since that opening drive, the Hoosiers have struggled to get near the end zone and have been forced to punt a number of times. Of course, Indiana not having a solid passing attack has limited the Hoosier offense, but the Spartans have done a good job so far of limiting the run.
Keon Coleman playing a key role on offense
Due to heavy coverage in the last two games, sophomore wide receiver Keon Coleman has been quiet recently. The Spartans were forced to look to their tight ends and running backs to make up some receiving yards, flashing some versatility.
Today however, he’s been wide open. He gained a quick 39 yards on the first offensive play of the game for the Spartans on a flea flicker pass from redshirt junior quarterback Payton Thorne to get in scoring position early.
Coleman quickly became a favorite target for Thorne, easily finding a hole in the defense to get open. He led the receivers in the first half with 76 yards. He also caught a last minute touchdown in the second quarter to put MSU up 24-7.
Coleman was out for a little bit in the second quarter for unknown reasons, but returned before the half came to an end. He’ll likely remain a key target going into the second half.
Run game still going strong
Despite struggling early in Big Ten play, the run game has really turned it around over the last few games.
Redshirt sophomore running back Jalen Berger and redshirt senior running back Elijah Collins have helped the offense stay ahead. Berger currently leads in rushing yards with 94. He's done an excellent job of finding holes in the defense and sustaining drives.
Collins was called on as the Spartans got closer to the end zone and was selected to punch it in to the end zone, giving the Spartans a 17-7 lead.
The Spartans currently lead the Hoosiers in rushing yards 121-60 at the half. Head Coach Mel Tucker has emphasized the need for the offense to not be one dimensional, meaning the run game has to do its part. In fact, most of their wins this season have come when the run game gets over 100 yards.
The offense will need them to carry this momentum into the second half in order to keep the success going.
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