CLOSE

Rainer Sabin, Orion Sang and Chris Solari smash Saturday̵

7;s Michigan Wolverines match against Michigan State Spartans in Ann Arbor on Halloween.

Detroit Free Press

Every game Michigan State football played against Michigan under Mark Dantonio proved competitive, even during the Spartans’ worst season.

Until last year.

The Wolverines MSU drum, 44-10, Michigan’s worst loss in Dantonio’s 13-year term and the only time Michigan has beaten him in two straight games.

Exit Dantonio, enter Mel Tucker.

The new Spartan coach has a job for him when he and his team travel to Michigan Stadium. The odds are strongly inclined to the 13 ranked Wolverines, a favorite of 24½ points, which enters on Saturday.

So how can Tucker do what only his mentor Nick Saban did in MSU history – beat Michigan in his first game? Here are three ways Spartans can cause the disorder:

[ Mel Tucker has support: Nick Saban, Kirk Cousins, Robaire Smith ]

Use offensive playmakers

Quarterback Rocky Lombardi showed the ability to move the Spartans down the field with his hand, throwing 319 yards in a 38-27 season opening loss against Rutgers’ second second, which was perhaps the strongest aspect of his defense. The junior must remain accurate and get the ball in motion by receivers Jaden Reed and Jalen Nylor, who combined 212 yards and three TDs on 17 catches. This is a step up in the race and all eyes will be on the two, so offensive coordinator Jay Johnson must disperse Michigan’s defenders and then work to use his slots and tight ends in the middle to soften the defense. Reed and Nylor area.

[ Rocky Lombardi explains why Michigan game means more to Spartans ]

Victory in the trenches

The Spartans’ combat attacks over the past two years are well documented, and Saturday’s loss showed a steep learning curve to generate a running game. That needs to change against the Wolverines, who seem to have a decisive edge advantage with Kwity Paye and Aidan Hutchinson and runners inside with Carlo Kemp and Donovan Jeter. The Spartans must summon their most cohesive blocking performance since 2017 to gain traction in the ground game.

On the other hand, MSU needs Jacub Panasiuk’s defensive end to produce like last year to match what Drew Beasley showed against him last week. The interior remains strong with a quartet of Nakuan Jones, Jacob Slade, Dashaun Mallory and Jalen Hunt, who showed physical shape. But it’s up to line defenders Anthony Simmons and Noah Harvey to wreak havoc and prevent Michigan ball carriers – especially his three-headed quarterback Joe Milton and Hassan Haskins and Zac Charbonne – from entering the second tier of the new Sparta. 2-5 protection.

PICK IT UP: Why Mel Tucker trusts the lifeless insult of the Spartans

CHAOS: Michigan emphasized that it was creating “devastating plays” and showed that

A few mistakes

MSU’s seven turnovers against Rutgers will not cut it short against Michigan. Removing these is the most important of Tucker’s tasks this week. This requires Lombardi and Reed, who combine for three of MSU’s five lost pulls, to hold the ball and not try to expand the game. This means that Nylor can’t drown out a single blow, and he and Reed must make positive profits and make sensible decisions in the return game.

In defense, the Spartans have to run to the ball and hit someone first and not be caught thinking about where they should be. And the coaches need to understand that any opportunity to score is first class, while maintaining an aggressive approach to calling the game.

Contact Chris Solari: csolari@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari. Read more about the Spartans from Michigan and sign up for our Spartan newsletter.