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 Nick Lundberg spoke with football reporter Brandon Schwartzberg of The Diamondback ahead of Saturday's Michigan State-Maryland game.
After another wild week for Michigan State football, the team is looking to get back on track following a historic loss to the No. 8 Washington Huskies last weekend. The Maryland Terrapins will visit East Lansing for the opening game of the Big Ten season, being the fourth and final home game in a row to start 2023 for the Spartans this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on NBC.
Q: The Terps are off to a hot 3-0 start, what have you seen the team do well in the early part of the year?
“I think probably the biggest thing they've done was the second half defense,” Schwartzberg said. “The past two games after the first quarter they’ve only allowed six points. They've really kind of upped the intensity. And they finally started getting turnovers. Against Townsend in week one, they really didn't get any turnovers and they got a pick against Charlotte but then last week against Virginia they're up 21 to 14 to start the fourth quarter, Virginia is driving, their freshman quarterbacks throws an interception to Tarheeb Still and that kind of jumpstarted the Terps kind of rolling away with it that started a string of four straight defensive turnovers. I just think that the second half defense has been the biggest thing. I know offensively, with the running game, they've done a really good job of kind of using all three of their key backs, Roman Hemby, Colby McDonald and Antwain Littleton II, they're all over 20 carries. They've all looked relatively good so far, and I just think that keeping those running backs fresh. And also the second half defense has kind of allowed them to get off to the start.”
Q: With the second half forced turnovers, what have you seen be the strengths of the Terp defense?
“I think it's just they have been limiting big plays,” Schwartzberg said. “The first throw against Charlotte they allowed I think a 40 plus yard touchdown to get their scoring started. And then I think it was the first play against Virginia, a flea flicker went for over 40 yards. So they just did a really nice job in the second half of eliminating big plays, kind of keeping everything in front of them, forcing teams to methodically work the ball downfield. I just think the secondary took a little bit of time to start clicking with them losing two guys to the NFL. Now with Sheppard, the transfer from Cincinnati, he had a bad penalty I think a couple of days ago, but besides that he's been good. I just think that they're limiting all the big plays, keeping everything in front. And then because they've played that lesser competition, it's been harder for those teams to move the ball and that's been a key reason why they found those turnovers.”
Q: Maryland lost their number one receiver from last year but still has a top QB in the conference in Taulia Tagovailoa, who does MSU need to be wary of in the pass game?
“They have Tyrese Chambers and Kaden Prather, both transfers coming in,” Schwartzberg said. “I think most people weren't sure which of those two was going to stand out early on because you brought back Jeshaun Jones for his final year, Corey Dyches has taken over as the number one tight end early on in the season. It's been a lot of Jones, Dyges and Prather. Prather is kind of that explosive guy Taulia has seemed to build a good rapport with him early on. I think he has a couple 40-yard catches for both touchdowns if I'm remembering correctly so far this season. And I just think that because he is over 150 yards in I think less than 10 catches, so he's kind of the big weapon that they got that Michigan State's gonna have to watch out for. And then Dyges is kind of Taulia’s safety blanket. He'll look to him when no one is really open. And so I just think that right now, it's probably those three guys. They all do things a little bit differently. They have great chemistry with each other and you never know honestly what you're gonna get from Jones. Some days he’ll have over 100, some days he’ll go for 20. I think that's why that wide receiver room is so talented and so deep is because—if Tyrese Chambers is healthy, as he's been nursing an injury, then you have Jones playing through Chambers. They're also big on Tai Felton. There's so many guys that can kind of be a weapon out there, which is why it makes defenses so hard to lock in on one.”
Q: Score prediction?
“I think it’ll be relatively close, within 10 points,” Schwartzberg said. “31-21, Maryland.”