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Michigan State football: To (Payton) Thorne or not to Thorne, that is the question

Did Payton Thorne save his job on Saturday?



Michigan State football
© Robert Killips | Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

The quarterback job has been the hot topic regarding Michigan State football since the conclusion of the spring “game” on Saturday.

With the Michigan State football spring game in the books, one topic, in particular, is dominating the conversation: Who will be the starting quarterback?

By all accounts, it appears as though the job is still Payton Thorne’s until one of Noah Kim or Katin Houser are able to pry it away.

After a disappointing season at the quarterback position last year, many MSU fans are ready for a change. After all, everyone’s favorite player on a bad team is the backup quarterback because they represent the allure of the unknown upside.

With Thorne, MSU fans had the pleasure of watching a record-setting season that concluded in a New Year’s Six bowl win but also a train wreck of a season where the team finished without qualifying for a bowl game. The detractors of Thorne will tell you that his success two seasons ago was primarily due to playing alongside a generational talent at running back that forced defenses to stack the box.

The reality is, though, Thorne still had to make the throws.

We saw this much in the game vs. Michigan. Kenneth Walker III had a historic day running the football but there were multiple times, including fourth downs, where Thorne made the exact type of throws you’d want from your QB1.

After Saturday’s spring game, Thorne talked about the injury he tried fighting through last season. He said he sustained an injury in the game vs. Western Michigan. He described it as playing with a “flat tire.” The injury certainly explains some of his struggles but it doesn’t dismiss them all. The case can be made that the coaching staff should’ve made a change at the position to both protect Thorne and also allow better in-game looks at Kim and Houser. If that had happened, we’d be operating this offseason with much more clarity. But alas, here we are.

Speaking purely from a fan perspective, I know whoever wins the QB1 job will have the full support of the fanbase. My goal here is to share three pros and three question marks surrounding Thorne’s status as QB1.

Pros of Thorne as QB1

  1. Experience. The benefit of having an experienced quarterback is that you can trust that they won’t be rattled by big moments because they’ve been there before.
  2. Glimpses. As stated above, we’ve seen glimpses of Thorne playing really good football. Even with a generational running back by your side, you don’t accidentally set a school record for passing touchdowns. Thorne still had to make those throws. The NY6 game vs. Pitt gave us a picture of Thorne leading the team to a big win as opposed to K9 carrying them.
  3. Continuity. There’s nothing more important at the quarterback position than trust. Does your head coach trust you? Do your teammates trust you? Having Thorne’s voice in the huddle gives the team continuity as the roster continues to evolve elsewhere. The running back room looks different. The receiver room looks different. The one thing that can make it all gel? The voice of a trusted quarterback.

Questions about Thorne as QB1

  1. Can he face pressure? Last year Thorne overthrew a lot of passes. On countless occasions, receivers created separation to get open but would eventually be overthrown. The injury is certainly a part of this equation but it’s more than that. Go back and watch the film on Thorne from either season and watch his feet. When the pocket gets muddied he has a tendency to start tap-dancing. He gets jittery and doesn’t plant his feet often. Anyone familiar with quarterback play will tell you, this leads to sailed balls like we’ve seen consistently from Thorne.
  2. Will he make his reads? Thorne is notoriously a one or two-read guy. It’s not often that we’ve seen him get through his progressions and make the right read. I don’t blame him for locking in on Jayden Reed and Keon Coleman one bit. However, between Montorie Foster, Maliq Carr, Daniel Barker, etc., MSU had plenty of other guys on the roster last year that should’ve been bigger contributors but they weren’t really given a chance because of where their reads fell in the progression. With Reed now gone and teams keying in on Coleman, MSU needs a quarterback that can spread the ball around to the open spots, not predetermined reads.
  3. Consistency? Even in the peak version of Thorne that we’ve seen over the last couple of years, his consistency has always been lacking. He can make an NFL-caliber throw and immediately follow it up with missing a wide-open receiver in the flat. Michigan State should have an improved running game this year, but the overall success of this offense will rely primarily on the quarterback’s shoulders. With the receiving group looking much different, the team will need consistent play from QB1. Thorne has had enough reps as the starter to wonder if this issue is correctable.

An improved offensive line this season could help Thorne with my first two concerns if he’s, in fact, named the starter. Thorne deserves the opportunity to prove that he can improve in these areas through camp. However, if his play remains consistent with what we saw last year, he shouldn’t be handed the starting job just because of seniority.

Michigan State football fans need to rally around the position and the coach’s decision. With that said, there’s a legitimate debate to be had for both sticking with Thorne or moving on. This conversation will only intensify with months still to go until the season kicks off.

May the best man win.


Michigan State football: Washington game time, channel announced

Fans won’t be too thrilled about the channel.



Michigan State football
© Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington vs. Michigan State football rematch is on Sept. 16, and the Spartans have revenge on their minds.

The game time for the Washington vs. Michigan State football game was just announced and is one I think most Michigan State fans will be happy with. The game will kick off at 5 p.m. ET on Sept. 16.

This is a great start time for Michigan State fans. That will give fans plenty of time to travel to East Lansing, enjoy a tailgate and get into the stadium. On top of that, the game will get down around 8 p.m. ET which is good for the crowd that does not like to be out late.

However, I think a lot of fans were hoping for a noon start time in this game. A noon start would have been a 9 a.m. local time for Washington, likely giving the Spartans a slight advantage. It’s no surprise seeing this big of a game scheduled in the evening to avoid that.

On top of the game time announcement, where the game will be aired on TV was also announced. This is where the good news ends. The Spartans game against Washington will only be available for streaming on Peacock. That means Spartan fans at home will have to pay to watch this game. However, a simple Google search showed me that Peacock currently only costs $20 for the entire year. A lot of Big Ten football and basketball games will only be available on Peacock this season, so that may not be a bad investment to make right now if you can.

What would a win mean for Michigan State football?

Michigan State will have revenge on its mind in this game. Washington beat the Spartans last season in Seattle 39-28. The game however did not feel that close. Michigan State made a late comeback to make the final score look respectable, but a lot of fans will tell you we never really stood a chance.

Washington will likely be a top 10 heading into this matchup, so Michigan State has a great opportunity in front of it. A win would would help spring the Spartans into the conference season with a lot of positive momentum.

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Jordan Hall hosts second annual free youth football camp (Video)

Jordan Hall is a legend already.



Jordan Hall
© Nick King/Lansing State Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Michigan State freshman linebacker Jordan Hall continues to show just why he’s one of the best out there.

Jordan Hall is already showing signs of being the next great Spartan on and off the field.

The Michigan State freshman linebacker was born and raised in Fredericksburg, Va. However, he most recently moved to Bradenton, Fla., to play football at IMG Academy.

This past weekend, Hall returned home to Fredericksburg to host his second annual free Jordan Hall Youth Football Camp.

Hall has already been making a name for himself on the field for the Spartans this spring. His play and effort has been praised by fellow players and coaches alike. IMG Academy has a long history of producing high-quality athletes. This makes Hall’s tenure in the program even more noteworthy. He became the first three-time captain in IMG Academy history.

When coaches are recruiting players, they are hoping to find the perfect mix of talent and character. You don’t become a three-time captain of a storied school like IMG Academy without having both.

In a recent interview with Spartan Shadows, Cryeeta Hall said of her son, “One of his favorite things he loves to do is teach the game of football to kids. He loves to coach.”

Michigan State fans are excited to see what Jordan Hall can contribute on the field, but his character off the field so far is creating just as much excitement. When you see a young man with the heart and determination to give back to his hometown, it lets fans know this is the sort of player you can to rally around and support. Mel Tucker has shown intentionality in his recruiting. He has a specific type of player that he’s looking for. Jordan Hall epitomizes a Tucker type of player.

Hall has the potential to earn immediate playing time this year as a true freshman. I’m not a betting man but if I were, I’d wager that we’ll see him as a team captain for the green and white sooner than later.

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Mel Tucker is best coach in the Big Ten when it comes to one stat

This may surprise you.



Mel Tucker

Mel Tucker is the best coach in the conference when it comes to this one surprising stat.

Michigan State football coach Mel Tucker is one of the best coaches in the Big Ten when it comes to close games.

This may surprise some considering two of Tucker’s three years at Michigan State have resulted in losing seasons. But the data shows that Tucker knows how to come out on top when the game is close.

He has been at Michigan State since 2020. During that three year timeframe he boasts a 10-1 record in games decided by 10 points or less which is the best record in the conference during that span.

Here is a list of all 11 of those games:


  • at Michigan (W 27-24)
  • vs. Northwestern (W 29-20)


  • vs. Nebraska (W 23-20)
  • at Indiana (W 20-15)
  • vs. Michigan (W 37-33)
  • vs. Penn State (W 30-27)
  • vs. Pittsburgh (W 31-21)


  • vs. Wisconsin (W 34-28)
  • at Illinois (W 23-15)
  • vs. Rutgers (W 27-21)
  • vs. Indiana (L 39-31)

How impressive is this really?

A 10-1 record when games are within 10 points is extremely impressive. The only loss on this list is Indiana from last season, a game Michigan State likely should have one. The Spartans ended up losing in overtime to the Hoosiers, but were a chip shot field goal away from winning in regulation. That is a field goal college kickers make almost every time, so Tucker’s one loss on this list could easily have been another win.

Regardless, 10-1 is the best winning percentage in games decided by 10 points or less in the Big Ten during that three-year span.

This is how the rest of the Big Ten teams fared during this same timeframe:

  1. Michigan State: 10-1 (.909)
  2. Maryland: 8-3 (.727)
  3. Iowa: 11-5 (.688)
  4. Indiana: 7-4 (.636)
  5. Purdue: 12-7 (.632)
  6. Ohio State: 3-2 (.600)
  7. Michigan: 6-4 (.600)
  8. Minnesota: 9-7 (.563)
  9. Rutgers: 7-6 (.538)
  10. Wisconsin: 6-7 (.462)
  11. Penn State: 5-7 (.417)
  12. Northwestern: 5-9 (.357)
  13. Illinois: 6-11 (.353)
  14. Nebraska: 5-16 (.238)

What does this tell us about Mel Tucker?

One thing this tells us is the Tuck is a great in game coach in tight situations. No coach goes 10-1 in close games by accident. Sometimes there is a lot of luck involved with winning close games, but that’s not necessarily the case when you win them this efficiently. Anyone can close a game out when you are up by 20, but not everyone can win a close game in the closing seconds.

This statistic is not all good though. Michigan State has won 18 games during the past three seasons. This means that over half of the games Mel Tucker has won at Michigan State have been within 10 points. For a program with extremely high goals, that fact is a little scary.

As I mentioned before, sometimes luck has to be on your side to win these close games. So relying on winning a lot of close games to have a great season is not a recipe for success.

One things for sure though, as long as Mel Tucker is the coach at Michigan State, we stand a very good chance at winning any close game.

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