The 2011 Spartans were a magical team, getting a quality bowl win and going 11-3 with a legendary finish in a win over Wisconsin. The Spartans defense was also ferocious, and all fans thought although MSU lost some key components on offense, the young Andrew Maxwell and (allegedly) talented Spartan wideouts would fill their shoes nicely.
BREAKING: We were wrong. Horribly wrong.
At this point, I should be telling you what the problem is with the Spartan offense that averages 21 points per game (but only 12 points per game against ranked opponents). But I can’t.
The biggest weakness about the Spartan offense is that the weakness keeps changing. What I mean is that the Spartans have had 3 different weaknesses on the offensive side of the ball this year.
The first problem: Wide Receivers
The Spartans came into the season with a receiving core consisting of Bennie Fowler, Tony Lippett and Keith Mumphery. After a lot of dropped passes, fumbles and inability to get separation, the MSU coaching staff ultimately decided to change the lineup to true freshman Aaron Burbridge, Keith Mumphery and Bennie Fowler at third string. You think the offense’s problems were gone at this point, right? Wrong.
The second problem: Offensive Line
This one wasn’t really the Michigan State coaching staff’s fault. In the week before the Central Michigan game, tackle Four Fonoti went down with a foot injury, ending his season. Just a few games later, against the Buckeyes, center Travis Jackson tore his ACL, another season ending injury. It wasn’t very surprising when the Spartans offensive line collapsed against Ohio State and Indiana, but in the Iowa game they began to mesh together and work together. Ok. So after two issues, the Spartans offense is better, right? No. Now another problem comes along.
The third problem: Andrew Maxwell
Andrew Maxwell has been taking a lot of heat this season when in all reality it’s been the wide receivers and offensive line hindering his performance. However, the Spartans’ couldn’t get going against Iowa because of the lack of a passing game. This time, however, it wasn’t the wideouts’ fault, it was Maxwell’s. He had a completion rate of 38.7%. THIRTY-EIGHT POINT SEVEN PERCENT. That’s been his worst game, statistically the entire year. He was overthrowing receivers, spending too much time in the pocket, making bad decisions and pretty much doing everything a quarterback is not supposed to do.
If the Spartans have some other issue (or the same issues) in the Michigan game, they’re in trouble. They need to iron out all of their problems, or the defense might have to give up 3 or less points if MSU wants to win.