There are three stat lines to look at from the box score to properly tell the story of the Michigan Wolverine defense against the Spartans:
- Rocky Lombardi - 17/32 for 323 yards, 3 TDs to 0 INTs
- Ricky White - 8 receptions for 196 yards and 1 TD
- 10 penalties for 86 yards
Almost half of Lombardi’s completions went to true freshman Ricky White, as he was matched up against Vincent Gray and Jalen Perry pretty much the entire game. It did not go well.
If it wasn’t the corners getting beat, there were a myriad of penalties that didn’t help, either. Whether it was one of the four defensive holding or defensive pass interference or the multiple offsides penalties, the defense assisted in giving Michigan State an easy out on third downs, consistently. Check out my officiating analysis video, where I dive into each of these costly penalties against Michigan in this game, as well as a few additional plays.
For this one, though, I have a few additional observations after going through these 19 impactful plays:
- There were about four or five impactful offensive holds that went uncalled. One or two of them I could see maybe going uncalled, but the other few were egregious. These were mainly against Hutchinson or Paye, but the one in play 14 on Ojabo was especially bad.
- Josh Ross had a pretty rough day, at least on these plays. It looks like he was responsible for the big chunk on play No. 1, as well as giving up the touchdown in pass coverage, as well as a mental lapse on a third down pass completion.
- Don Brown did adjust for the corner struggles, taking his corners off the line of scrimmage and going with a two-high safety look over the top. The corners still played poorly despite the easier alignment, and Brad Hawkins was late on over the top help on a couple passes where he should have been there.
- Michigan State often kept seven or even eight in for pass protection on these big plays. I don’t care if you do have two Joey Bosa defensive ends, they’re not going to get home when the opponent is keeping eight in for pass protection and throwing a fade on a three-step drop. Just not gonna happen.
Let me know your thoughts from my analysis above and don’t forget to subscribe to the Maize n Brew YouTube channel!