Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Yes the Offense Sucks, but Mark Dantonio Still Has Swag with a Capital "S"

After a 2-0 start to the 2013 season, USA Today college football analyst Dan Wolken has ranked the Spartans fan base No. 5 on "The Misery Index.'' 

While Wolken astutely characterizes Michigan State's offense as "a dumpster fire," he takes a shot at head coach Mark Dantonio, characterizing him as "a humorless coach void of any semblance of personality.''

Actually, I've heard that complaint before, and I find it absurd. Maybe I'm just partial to a dry sense of humor, but let's not mistake a dry wit with a lack of personality.

Mark Dantonio may not be Steve Spurrier or Bobby Bowden when it comes to making an ass of himself in front of the camera, but the dude has swag with a capital "S."

This is the same coach who routinely ignores questions from sideline reporters and just slyly smiles and talks about whatever the Hell he wants to talk about, such as when he smugly reminded a shocked national audience that the name of game winning fake field goal against Notre Dame was "Little Giants."

Or that Northwestern "took the cheese" in biting on the fake punt called "Mouse Trap" that helped his Spartans come back from a 17-0 deficit one month later.

Of course, who can forget Dantonio putting Mike Hart and every Michigan fan in their place by saying, "Pride comes before the fall," and, "It's not over, and it will never be over here. It's just started," before rattling off four straight wins against their in-state rivals when Michigan players taunted him after narrowly defeating his Spartans in his first season as their head coach.

Does Dan Wolken actually think that Michigan State fans complained about Mark Dantonio's "lack of personality" when he put an arrogant Michigan assistant coach in Jeff Hecklinski his place?

Or how about when he reminded the national media and Wolverine fan base that "Little Brother" had grown up to become bigger and stronger than "Big Brother" and even landed a better looking girlfriend by asking, "We've beat Michigan the last four years, so where's the threat?"

Mark Dantonio "owning" University of Michigan assistant coach Jeff Hecklinski by comparing him to former Wolverine RB Mike Hart.

Wolken may be correct that the current state of Michigan State's offense rhymes with "flaming bag of dog shit," but that assessment could change as quickly as you can say "Damion Terry."

One thing that you cannot and do not want to do is attack is Mark Dantonio's swag and personality...Just ask the University of Michigan.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Taking a Look at Michigan State's 2013 Quarterback Situation

"I don't think either quarterback played poorly, both quarterbacks played well enough to generate more points than we got from our offense.'' - Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio, following Michigan State's 26-13 win over Western Michigan on 8/30/13. 

No, Michigan State's quarterbacks did not play poorly against Western Michigan. They were flat out awful.

Despite several drops from their receivers, Michigan State's quarterbacks, fifth year Senior Andrew Maxwell and redshirt Sophomore Connor Cook did not put the team in a position to score with their arms.

In fact, the best the Spartans' offense looked all game was probably when running back Jeremy Langford was taking snaps in the "Wildcat" formation. Sadly, the mere thought of Andrew Maxwell splitting out wide in the "Wildcat" made me laugh and cry at the same time...Kind of like any Paul Walker movie.

Connor Cook also had his moments moving the offense using his legs with quarterback draws from the shotgun and running the read-option when lined up in the pistol.

Connor Cook: Unfortunately, his arm was about as accurate as your order from Pancero's at 2:00 a.m. when you try to explain what you'd like in your burrito after a dozen Milwaukee's Bests and a few keg stands.

While Andrew Maxwell does seem to be more accurate than Cook, the word "vertical" is simply not in his vocabulary.

Much like former Detroit Lions quarterback, Joey "Blue-Skies" Harrington, Maxwell frequently goes through his progressions and checks down, electing to throw "long," at least when it comes to how far the ball travels horizontally, three and four yard outs instead of trying to push the ball down field.

Worse yet, the way Maxwell delivers the ball rarely puts his receivers, phalangically challenged or not, in a position to make any yardage after the catch.

Sadly, Andrew Maxwell is even less effective when pressure necessitates him to either step up in the pocket or scramble.

Quite simply, part of a quarterback's job is to put his receivers in a position to make a play, and Andrew Maxwell has never proven to be able to do that.

While Connor Cook may not be as accurate as Andrew Maxwell, at least when he does complete a pass they tend to go down field and hit his receivers in stride or coming out of their breaks before the defenders have time to close.

I don't want to be a Maxwell basher. He went to my high school, so having him as the starting quarterback at my alma mater is a tremendous source of pride to me. Unfortunately, despite all of his Elite 11 credentials, he just doesn't seem to have the intangibles to be a successful quarterback at the collegiate level.

What the fuck is a Chemic? Andrew Maxwell at Midland High School.

I don't overreact either, I save that for Michigan fans.

Damion Terry is a true Freshman who doesn't have command of MSU's pro style offense yet, so he probably isn't the answer either this year...Not unless you are going to run an offense entirely based on the "read option," and that just doesn't fit Mark Dantonio's philosophy.

Is Connor Cook the answer?

I'm not sure of that yet either, but of the two Spartan quarterbacks that have any game experience, Cook is the one that seems to be capable of moving the offense vertically down the field.

Connor Cook kind of reminds me of a poor man's version of former Spartan quarterback Drew Stanton with his "drunken sailor" style of moving the football.

Michigan State needs somebody at the quarterback position to step up and take this team to a new level by the Notre Dame game and Big Ten play, or this will quickly become another disappointing season.

Right now Andrew Maxwell is not the answer to the Spartans' quarterback conundrum.

It's time to give one of the younger kids a chance to lead this team or Mark Dantonio and company risk wasting one of the best defenses in team history.

Perhaps letting Cook split reps in games with redshirt freshman Tyler O'Connor, who's highly mobile and also has a talented arm, is the answer.

If Cook and O'Connor both struggle in games, then the Spartans can always go back to the known commodity in Maxwell as a back-up option, but at this point he appears to have reached his ceiling, and that ceiling's not nearly high enough to cut it going forward if this team wants to contend for a Rose Bowl.