Michigan State football was unable to show up on the road against Washington and these are my biggest concerns from the Week 3 loss.
I am concerned about Michigan State football after Saturday’s loss at Washington. That’s not a hot take.
Does that mean I think Michigan State is doomed? No. Does that mean the Spartans don’t have what it takes to compete in the Big Ten? No. Does that mean I’ve given up hope? Not even close.
I’m concerned but I’m hopeful.
Michigan State didn’t look like the team we expected to see after an 87-13 advantage through two weeks of the season. It wasn’t the same team that led the nation in sacks. It wasn’t the same team that came off its first shutout in years. This just wasn’t the 2-0 team (ranked No. 11) that we expected to see in Seattle.
Spartan fans showed up in Seattle, but the coaching staff did not.
Am I saying that Mel Tucker should have left Scottie Hazelton in Seattle after the loss? No, but I’m also not not saying that. I’m willing to cut certain coaches a break, but after having the nation’s worst pass defense in 2021, not seeing any improvement in 2022 is more than disappointing — it’s unacceptable.
Changes have to be made. Is it a talent issue? I don’t think so. Is it a schematic issue? Absolutely.
There’s no reason this talented of a Michigan State football team should go into Washington against the fourth or fifth-best Pac-12 team and look overmatched. Zero reason for that.
I’m concerned, especially since the schedule doesn’t get any easier. And here’s what concerns me most about Michigan State football after the Washington loss.
1. Scottie Hazelton
I really hate putting the blame on one position coach or coordinator, but Hazelton has not improved this defense since last year’s debacle. He already had film on Michigan State football against Michael Penix Jr. and still couldn’t draft a game plan to slow him down.
The 4-2-5 scheme just isn’t working. Teams are figuring it out and slinging the ball all over the Spartan defense. It wasn’t ready for anything on Saturday and that’s both on Tucker and Hazelton.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned about Hazelton’s ability — or inability — to turn this defense around.
2. The offensive line
This is pretty self-explanatory. The offensive line was horrible against Washington.
No open lanes, Payton Thorne was running for his life all game, and I would have trusted a wet paper bag over this unit to stop the Washington front. I am very concerned about the offensive line, especially when they have to face Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Penn State
I’m not even going to lie, without Jayden Reed, I thought the passing game was pretty much limited to two receivers and the tight ends. It was Keon Coleman, Tre Mosley, and the duo of Daniel Barker and Tyler Hunt.
It might just be time to dip into that freshman class and get Antonio Gates Jr. some reps or even utilize Tyrell Henry some more. We know that the latter’s redshirt will be burned because he’s on special teams, but does the staff truly believe he cannot be of service in the passing game? Thorne needed help on Saturday without Reed and he had to rely heavily on Mosley, Coleman, and the two tight ends.
As for the other guys missing, Jacob Slade’s absence was felt big-time. Does his absence on the line really make that big of a difference? Well, the Spartans had 12 sacks through the first two weeks and then zero on Saturday and just one tackle for loss without him. You tell me.
Injuries are killing depth.