It was a sign of similar trends for the Michigan State football team Saturday afternoon. The Spartans dropped their sixth straight game to Minnesota, as they are still winless in conference play heading into Nov.
In the first half, MSU kept up well with the Golden Gophers, only trailing 10-6. The defense stepped up for the Spartans, as they forced two fumbles on Minnesota’s first two drives, and even added a blocked field goal attempt at the hands of redshirt junior defensive lineman Simeon Barrow Jr.
As seen in previous games, MSU struggled to hang with their opponent towards the end and Minnesota successfully ran the ball and controlled the rest of the game.
“It was similar to Rutgers in my mind about how they ran the ball,” interim head coach Harlon Barnett said. “We held them to ten points up through three quarters, and in the fourth quarter, kinda you know, didn’t finish like we needed to. We’ve been talking about finish finish finish, and we didn’t finish quite like we needed to. So we just keep talking and harping on it, working on it, and trying to get better at it.”
The players know the feeling of losing games in the second half and have despised it. Redshirt junior linebacker Cal Haladay made the message clear on how to fix the mishaps.
“We just got to keep finishing the game,” Haladay said. “That’s the emphasis. Coach Barnett’s emphasis was finish because you know, you got 60 minutes in a game to play, so you can’t relax. You can’t let the game affect you. You got to go out there and do your job, and that’s been the point of emphasis too.”
A good tale of Michigan State’s season has been second half woes, particularly on the offensive side. The Spartans were outscored 17-6 in yet another second half collapse, as redshirt freshman quarterback Katin Houser and the offense failed to push the ball downfield efficiently once again.
Barnett made the decision to bench redshirt junior quarterback Noah Kim three weeks ago to give Houser a shot, but, besides a decent first game, his time hasn’t been pretty to look back on. Freshman quarterback Sam Leavitt has seen multiple bits of action in the last few games, including throwing for 73 yards and a touchdown to go along with an interception and 52 rushing yards.
“We will continue to evaluate and be far and try to play the best player that gives us an option to win,” Barnett said in regards to the quarterback position.
Barnett also mentioned Leavitt has been operating as the backup with Kim being sidelined for quite some time.
The substitutions Barnett has made at the position seemed to have been the right call, or at least to the Spartan faithful. However, constant change with no designated starter each week has potentially hurt Michigan State’s chances at generating momentum in close contests such as the game against the Golden Gophers.
Another form of mistakes has come with the roster uncertainty. Barrow Jr. withdrew his name from the portal Thursday evening after entering just two days prior. On Saturday before the game, Tumise Adeleye was designated as not on the roster by a team spokesperson, but his name has not been confirmed in the transfer portal.
It is not harsh to say this season has been a disaster for Michigan State. All there is left for Barnett and his squad is to keep fighting for the rest of the season.
“I’m a natural encourager,” Barnett said. “That’s who I am. And so I’m always thinking in positive light. And so I just told them, we got one more game, one more home game, Spartan Stadium, the Woodshed, our seniors’ last home game, you know, against a team that we feel like we should be able to compete against.”
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