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Things got ugly at the start of Saturday’s game in Washington for Michigan State. After quickly falling behind by double digits, the game was never really within striking distance for the Spartans, despite beating the Huskies in the second half. The hard loss has stayed with MSU fans and is causing them to re-evaluate expectations.
The clear conclusion to the deceptively close 39-28 loss was how bad the Spartans’ secondary looked against a talented passing offense. Michael Penix Jr. threw for nearly 400 yards and four touchdowns before the offense turned conservative late in the game. While there was a lot of blame, the fans clearly found their target.
Despite what Mel Tucker said at his weekly press conference, nearly three-quarters of fans believe the biggest problem was the schedule and training, with players displaced against Washington’s attack. Only 18% of fans place the blame primarily on the players themselves.
If the blame falls on the coaching staff and the scheme, fans aren’t sure if any improvement should be expected. Even though fifth-year security Xavier Henderson could return full speed ahead, it’s unclear if high school will get much better.
A small majority of fans think this year’s defensive secondary is beyond repair.
On the other side of the ball, the stats again don’t seem to tell the whole story. For the third week in a row, there are big issues in the offense, even after finding some hit scores.
Statistically, quarterback Payton Thorne had his best game of the season. Thorne threw three touchdowns and completed more passes than he had attempted in either of the previous two games, connecting on 71% of his attempts. But most of that came late, when Washington had a comfortable lead.
Running play was almost non-existent, due to the lack of initial success and the need to score quickly as the game progressed, but also due to difficulties on the offensive line. As a team, Michigan State ran for just 42 yards, with Thorne finishing as the second leading runner. Jalen Berger led the team with just 27 yards.
This all led to most fans saying that they were not satisfied with the offensive performance.
All of this came in the first real test the State of Michigan has faced this season, though some among us may have drawn attention to the belief that the trip to Seattle was a tougher game than most fans expected. The season only gets tougher now in terms of goals dropped by MSU as the Big Ten schedule begins.
At the start of the season, fans said they expected Michigan State to finish second in the Big Ten East and get 10 wins for the season. Without going into specifics, Spartans fans said they had lowered their expectations after the loss in Washington.
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