Saturday, September 12, 2009

Big Ten: Spartans LeSick with a LeFevour


For Michigan State’s showdown with the Chippewas of Central Michigan, I was figuring the quarterbacks in green would out-play the all-time MAC leader in yards, Dan LeFevour. It’s too late for take-backs, so let’s give LeFevour his due. The “Tim Tebow of the Midwest” finished 33-for-46 for 328 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He also ran for ten yards and caught one pass for 24 yards deep in Michigan State territory on a throwback pass from wide receiver Antonio Brown.

The biggest play came late, when LeFevour connected for his third touchdown pass with under a minute left in the game on a wheel route to Paris Cotton out of the backfield. A failed two-point conversion attempt (going for the win) forced Central Michigan to attempt an onside kick, which was executed perfectly by kicker Andrew Aquila. LeFevour then guided the ball down to Michigan State’s 25, where Aquila squeezed his kick just inside the uprights to solidify the upset 29-27.

On the other side of the ball, Kirk Cousins and Keith Nichol combined for 16-of-26 passing, 215 yards and two touchdowns. I like that the new gunslingers are yet to throw an interception. But as a team, the Spartans were unable to give themselves enough possessions to finish off the Chippewas–they lost the time-of-possession battle 33:25 to 26:35. That won’t cut it when Michigan State is lacking consistent quick-strike capabilities, despite marching down the field in exactly 2:00 to score the opening touchdown of the game.

In individual performances, receiver Blair White looks solid, hauling in seven receptions for 105 yards (on top of his 9-for-162, two touchdowns last week). Stud linebacker Greg Jones, without having official statistics, had his name called often, and as predicted, is making life less than pleasant blitzing quarterbacks more so this season.

All is far from lost for Michigan State, but certainly momentum takes a big hit, especially with Notre Dame next on the schedule. I hate to say “must win” just yet, but if they lose next week, they then have Wisconsin sandwiched between their in-state showdown with Michigan to kick off conference action.

Photos Courtesy of Michigan State Athletic Communications, Robert Barclay Central Michigan