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Michigan State football’s more complicated relationship with passing the ball

Michigan State’s relationship with QB play has been quite a ride.



Michigan State football
© Dale Young-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan State football has had an even more complicated relationship with passing the ball.

Earlier this week, I wrote about how Michigan State football lives and dies with running the ball, and why that is incredibly important as the Spartans have historically always been a “run to pass” team. Since 2010, MSU has had more rush attempts than pass attempts in nine of the past 14 seasons. The interesting thing is that MSU has been pass dominant four of the past five seasons, with 2021 being the lone run dominant season (for obvious reasons).

I think anyone that has followed this team the past half decade has noticed that the results have left a lot to be desired, as MSU has gone 32-26 in that span, with an 11-2 season carrying the majority of the load. The 2018-2020 campaigns ushered in an era of ineptitude on offense and the 2022 season brought the fanbase traumatizing flashbacks of it after the fever dream that was 2021.

So what could this mean? I have a theory on one of the drivers of the offensive woes, and it really boils down to one thing:

The passing game has not met the moment due to the lack of a playmaker at the QB position for a while now.

Listen, I get it. If you’re a one-dimensional team, it’s really easy for opposing defenses to take advantage of that. When you can’t run, teams can pin their ears back and tee off on the quarterback or drop 7-8 guys and wait you out. Complementary football to be successful isn’t coach speak, it’s a very real thing.

Since 2015, the MSU teams that were pass dominant went 21-24. The run dominant? 36-16, and that is including a 3-9 season in 2016 that broke bad because of *reasons*. That just flatly isn’t good enough. We saw evidence of this even in 2021 when Kenneth Walker III wasn’t able to truly get going. The passing game couldn’t find ways to get it done when it was up to them. No Michigan State quarterback ranked in the top 50 of quarterbacks in completion percentage since 2015, with newly departed Payton Thorne being the only one completing more than 60 percent of his passes in 2021 and 2022.

When looking at Michigan State’s pass dominant seasons (2018-2020, 2022), the picture isn’t pretty. MSU ranked 122nd, 90th, 94th, and 44th in pass EPA/play. This most recent season was the only season where MSU did not have a negative pass EPA/play.


Connor Cook truly might be the last quarterback Michigan State football has had that looked around and said “get on my back, I’m taking control of this game.” Brian Lewerke showed flashes, but injuries and inconsistency had people clamoring for Rocky Lombardi to become the guy. Then, Rocky becomes the guy, and that was some of the most hilarious, chaotic quarterback play I’ve ever seen. Thorne became the guy, and in all honesty, he looked good and promising in 2021. However, moments in 2021 and his entire 2022 campaign were anemic and inept and also showed what his ceiling is as a quarterback, injured or not.

I had not been confident about an MSU quarterback leading a drive down the field late in games in a must score situation since Cook was under center. He wasn’t the perfect quarterback by any means either, but he made plays and did what it took to win.

With that being said, I have a fair (and possibly unwarranted) level of optimism with the quarterback room moving forward. It’s almost as if the position is moving back up the tiers to make it in the destination of elite quarterback play. Whether QB1 against Central Michigan is Noah Kim, a fourth-year guy who’s been a garbage time superstar, or Katin Houser, a second-year guy with huge upside and talent, I think has the opportunity to become the playmaker at the position that MSU has been longing for.

This offense overall is incredibly unproven, and given the history, it’s understandable to not be high on a unit that has been so mediocre. But this is also a group of players that has had a higher talent floor in terms of recruiting rankings than many of the teams before it, and that is enough reason to have at least a shred of optimism for me.

Add in a quarterback who emerges as the first playmaker since the golden era of modern Michigan State football? That’s a recipe for an incredibly fun offense, or at least a more competent one.


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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