Payton Thorne

© Junfu Han/Detroit Free Press / USA TODAY NETWORK

Michigan State football: 5 burning questions for Akron matchup

After a season-opening win over Western Michigan, there are still some question marks pertaining to Michigan State football.

Questions have arisen after Michigan State football’s Week 1 win over Western Michigan, and for good reason.

The Spartans didn’t exactly look dominant against the Broncos outside of the first 18 minutes and the final six. Michigan State was able to eventually pull away, winning by 22 points and just barely covering the spread. It wasn’t the prettiest win, but you can’t really complain about a three-score victory over one of the better teams from the MAC.

And also, good teams win and great teams cover, so there’s that.

Michigan State had flashes of brilliance from the opener (Keon Coleman, Jacoby Windmon, Jalen Berger) but there are still some question marks heading into Week 2.

Here are my biggest questions that I’d like answered by Michigan State football against Akron.

1. Can Payton Thorne clean up the mistakes?

Going 12-for-24 is unacceptable against a team like Western Michigan, and Payton Thorne knows that. One of every three completions was a touchdown pass, however, and he made some really solid throws that ended up as incompletions, but he can’t be completing 50 percent of his passes against MAC teams.

Thorne was disappointed with his play and knows he needs to be better. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and say he had first-game jitters, but will he clean up the mistakes against a bad Akron team?

Dang, I hope so.

2. Will the kicking game find its guy?

Jack Stone reportedly won the starting kicker job out of fall camp and that’s something a lot of fans wanted to hear, but he didn’t look like a guy who wanted to keep his job in the opener. He made all of his extra point tries but he shanked a 44-yarder in the second half. I mean, this kick wasn’t even close.

Is Ben Patton going to push him? What about Stephen Rusnak? I just want a reliable kicking game because I can easily see this turning into a disaster.

3. Is the offensive line truly progressing?

It’s not easy to really get a grasp on the offensive line’s growth against MAC teams, but keeping Thorne clean and opening holes in the run game will still tell us something. If Michigan State can avoid giving up sacks against Akron and pave the way to another 100-yard rusher, or two, I think this answer will be ‘yes.’

Chris Kapilovic’s group isn’t super deep, but it needs to dominate games like these and if they do, I’m willing to buy stock in the offensive line.

4. Was the opener an outlier for Ben VanSumeren?

Only one defender looked better than Ben VanSumeren against Western Michigan and that was Jacoby Windmon. Let that sink in for a second.

I never thought I’d be talking about VanSumeren as potentially being the key to the defense’s success this year, but with Darius Snow going down, it’s real. He looked like a much better player than he was all of last year, recording 11 tackles and a tackle for loss which led the team — he had 12 total tackles a year ago.

I’m really interested to see if his domination in the opener was an outlier or if we can really expect him to be ‘the guy’ moving forward.

5. Can the defense dominate a mediocre Akron offense?

This is kind of built off the VanSumeren question. Can Michigan State dominate a really mediocre Akron offense that failed to put up 400 total yards in an overtime win over an FCS school? I really hope so.

If I were to pinpoint what I’d consider a ‘successful’ game on the defensive side of the ball, it would be a shutout. Michigan State football has the dudes to pull this off, but will the Spartans be able to do so?

These are my biggest questions heading into the Akron game but I obviously have more. If the Spartans can answer these, they’ll be in good shape heading into Washington in Week 3.

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