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Another week, another underwhelming performance from the Michigan State offense. And underwhelming is putting it lightly when describing what the Spartans put forth on Saturday against No. 8 Wisconsin.
In a 38-0 loss, MSU mustered only 149 yards, turned it over twice (including a Brian Lewerke interception that was returned for a touchdown), gained just seven first downs and was 2-of-14 on third down. It was ugly from the jump. MSU didn’t even get a single first down until the second quarter. Meanwhile, Wisconsin drove it right down the defense’s throat time and time again.
The loss dropped MSU’s record to 4-3 (2-2 Big Ten) on the year. All three losses have come against teams that are currently ranked: Arizona State on Sept. 14 (a 10-7 home loss), Ohio State last Saturday (34-10 in Columbus) and Saturday’s performance in Madison.
In those games, Michigan State has scored 17 points combined. That stat led to the following postgame question for Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio: “Seven games in, was it a mistake to not bring in a new offensive staff?”
Dantonio did not appreciate it.
Reporter: Was it a mistake not to bring in a new offensive staff?
Mark Dantonio was having none of it. pic.twitter.com/EeLaUNpSIL
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) October 12, 2019
Frankly, the question was perfectly reasonable after the performance put on by Dantonio’s team. It was a performance reminiscent of many games in recent years from his team, in fact.
The second half of the 2018 season was horrific for the Spartans on offense. The team averaged 12.2 points per game over its final seven contests, including four games with seven points or fewer. The line completely lacked physicality. The running backs had no explosiveness — or holes to run through. The receivers couldn’t get open. Not exactly a recipe for success, right?
You figured Dantonio would make some changes, especially playing in a division with Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan. He did make changes — sort of. Instead of bringing in some fresh eyes to assess the situation, he simply shuffled the staff, moving each position coach to a new position and promoting Brad Salem up from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator.
To nobody’s surprise, it hasn’t worked. And it’s a decision that has set back Dantonio’s program considerably. Even as the Michigan Wolverines sputter in Ann Arbor, Michigan State is the clear fourth-best team in the division. That solely lies on Dantonio’s shoulders and he seems to be the only one who doesn’t realize it.
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