Because of the bye week Behind Enemy Lines took a break last week. Man, it's good to be back! In this week's edition, I interview McLain Moberg, of TheOnlyColors.com which is the Michigan State SB Nation affiliate. Let's dive right in.
Josh LaFond: It's nice to have you here, McLain. I know you're just as excited about this game as I am, so let's get right into this interview!
What’s been the biggest surprise this season for the Spartans?
McLain Moberg: To me it's been Brian Lewerke. I am personally so high on that kid and was a huge believer of his talents last season. But Coach Dantonio continuously played Tyler O'Connor who we all saw as a much less viable option at the quarterback position. Lewerke can move well in the pocket, he has the presence of mind to feel when the defense and pocket are collapsing, and knows the exact right moment to take off for a big gain. Not to mention Brian throws a damn good ball when he needs to. The sophomore QB is on pace to throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000. If he manages to do so, he would be the first MSU quarterback to accomplish such a feat.
Josh: I'll put it this way, Lewerke is starting to prove me wrong, that's for sure.
Before the season started, how did you predict the Spartan record to go?
McLain: I said Michigan State would finish 7-5 (4-5 B1G). I stand by this prediction because I think this team is better than a seven win season but they are extremely young and with inexperience comes careless mistakes. Which all of Spartan Nation saw the night this team played Notre Dame.
Josh: Youth and inexperience definitely can be a plague, but at least they are heading back in the right direction.
What are Michigan State’s biggest strength and weakness?
Mclain: The Spartans’ biggest strength is their offense. It can be successful from the top down when it wants to be. With Brian Lewerke leading the way Michigan State fans shouldn't have too much to worry about. They have a three-headed monster in the backfield that includes LJ Scott (who can't seem to hang onto the ball right now but is extremely talented), Gerald Holmes, and Madre London. As usual MSU has a stable of running backs. Their receivers aren't to shabby either with Felton Davis Jr. lined up on the outside and Darrell Stewart Jr. going anywhere the coaching staff needs him. Our weakness is the Spartan secondary.
When I was asked about how to beat MSU during the ND game I said throw it over the top. The corners have struggled to stick with guys all year and this weekend won't be any different. If O'Korn can make the necessary throws downfield then it might be a long day for Michigan State fans.
Josh: Well that's good to know, hopefully John O'Korn can hit on those deep shots early then. Now this next question is something that's been bugging me the entire season.. what’s going on with LJ Scott?
McLain: This is the million dollar question. I honestly don't know. Last year this man rushed for just shy of 1,000 yards with six touchdowns while also averaging 5.4 yards per carry. He was our go to guy in the trenches. This year he has three fumbles through four games. So before facing Iowa, MSU's starting running back was averaging a fumble per game. Whatever is going on hopefully its done and over. He managed to hang on to the ball against Iowa and all the fan base can ask him to do is keep moving forward so he can continue to play at a high level.
Josh: It might be a challenge for him to churn out those yards and protect the football against this Michigan d-line, so that'll definitely be a story line to watch.
Who are 3 game impacting guys that Michigan fans need to keep their eyes on come Saturday?
McLain: Brian Lewerke, Felton Davis Jr. and LJ Scott. All three will be heavily involved this weekend and will directly impact the Spartans success on the offensive side of the ball.
Josh: Those are also the guys I had pegged to have the biggest impact on the outcome of the game, and that kind of leads into my next question which is, for MSU to win, what needs to happen?
McLain: The defense has to show up in a big way and the offense must capitalize on any and all drives. One thing I've seen from watching Michigan play football this year is their defense is not to be underestimated. I'll give an example of what I mean: During the Purdue game the Boilermakers had a chance to go up 14-7 on the Wolverines but failed and had to settle for a field goal. The Wolverines offense may not look like anything special but if an opposing offense is unable to take advantage of any opportunities afforded to them by this defense or their own success then they will lose. Michigan beats you down defensively and the only way to keep up in my opinion is to continuously get into the end zone.
Josh: Michigan State's offense against this elite Wolverine defense will be the deciding factor in my opinion.
Getting back to my 2nd question about how you thought the Spartans would play before the season started, how do you see the rest of their season planning out?
McLain: I think it remains the same. Prior to the season starting I saw MSU defeating Notre Dame with the possibility of an eight win season. The only real question mark for me going into this year was the game against Northwestern (I had MSU losing). But with where this team is right now in terms of talent and chemistry I'd say seven wins is still more than possible. Again referring to my previous answer I had MSU finishing 7-5 and despite the loss to Notre Dame I believe that record is still well within reach.
Josh: Well that record is in grasp for them, hopefully they can put it all together and go bowling again.
Who is Michigan State’s biggest rival other than Michigan?
McLain: I don't want to escalate this rivalry into something it's not because in large part this game is only huge in the state of Michigan (some Wolverine fans will tell you playing MSU really isn't that big a game). But go talk to any Spartan fan and this is the biggest game of the year on their schedule no matter how good or bad UM is projected to be. It's like asking a Yankees or Red Sox fan who their second biggest rival is. I'm not sure they'd have an answer for you. There just isn't a team out there that can get a Spartans blood boiling like the Wolverines can so to answer your question it remains Michigan.
Josh: Wow, I was honestly expecting Ohio State, Notre Dame, or even Penn State, so that really takes me by surprise. Well it's been fun, McLain, but in the words of the Migos, let’s “wrap it up den”... what’s your score and game prediction?
McLain: I've gotta go with Michigan. Even with their offensive woes I just don't see an upset happening. The Wolverines are too good defensively and I think the Spartans inexperience will show up again this weekend. That being said I do think its going to be close and Michigan State will have a chance late to send the game into OT.
UM 21 - MSU 14
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I would like to extend my thanks to McLain Moberg and The Only Colors for taking the time, and allowing me to interview them. As ‘hate week’ heats up for Michigan fans, head on over to TheOnlyColors.com to find out more about Michigan's neighbor and rival.