Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio leads his team out of the tunnel at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing on Saturday, October 6, 2018. Northwestern beat Michigan State, 29-19, to pamper homecoming.
With a 21:17 victory at Penn State last week, Michigan State is now half the season.
Here are the mid-season notes for the 24 Spartans (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten), who host No. 6 Michigan on Saturday:
Michigan State running back LJ Scott (3) attempts to block quarterback Brian Lewerke (1
4) during their college football match against Utah State at the Spartan Stadium in East Lansing on Friday, August 31, 2018. (Mike Mulholland | MLive.com)
Center Brian Allen was the only starter that Michigan State lost last year, and the group returned with high expectations that were not met.
The scoring is 24.5 points higher per game last season, to 26.2 this year, but the Spartans were eliminated in 21 games of 21 or fewer points in three of the six games and often had problems with their matches To seize opportunities. There have been improvements in passing the yards and the entire offensive, but the running game has come back, and quarterback Brian Lewerke has too many sales. Injuries have taken a toll and Dave Warner's play was occasionally questionable. If Michigan State rises in the second half of the season to fight for a Big Ten title, it will probably need its offensive to show growth. Grade: D
Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke (14) throws a pass during the first quarter of their college football game against Central Michigan at the Spartan Stadium in East Lansing on Saturday, September 29, 2018. (Mike Mulholland | MLive.com)  Quarterback
Now, in his second season as a full-time starter, Lewerke has not made the anticipated jump this year. His rushing numbers are far below, but that's no surprise as Michigan State has to protect him from shooting too many shots during the season, and he focuses on picking up his purse and finding open receivers instead (19659003) ) Lewerke has completed 60.0 percent of his passes (135 for 225) for 1,587 yards and eight touchdowns, but also has nine turnovers with seven interceptions and two fumbles. That came after he had thrown 20 touchdown passes and seven interceptions last season.
Did Lewerke sometimes try too much? Yes. Is he better than he showed this season? Yes. However, he has not had much help from an anemic rushing attack, the offensive line has fought, and the receiving corps has been hit with injuries. Condition: C –
Michigan State runs back Connor Heyward (11) attempts to overcome Northwesters JR Pace (13) in the first half at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing on Saturday, October 6, 2018. (J. Scott Park | MLive.com)
Senior starter LJ Scott has not played anymore since what coach Dantonio said was an ankle injury in a September 8 loss at Arizona State. He did not travel to Penn State with the team and it is unclear when he will return.
With Scott out, Michigan State has become a running-by-committee approach, primarily to sophomore Connor Heyward and genuine freshman La's Darius Jefferson, while Weston Bridges and Alante Thomas were also used. Together, the running backs average only 3.7 yards per carry.
Scott's absence was a problem, and the offensive line did not always create a push. However, the production was not good enough. Michigan State ranked 114th out of 129 teams in the nation in just 123.0 yards per game. This is on the way to being the worst blustering offense during Dantonio's 12-year tenure. Condition: D
Wide receiver / narrow ends
Michigan State wide receiver Felton Davis III (18) makes a dive for a first down during their college football match against Utah State at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing on Friday, August 31, 2018. Michigan State won the game, 38 -31. (Mike Mulholland | MLive.com)
Wide Receiver / Tight Ends
What turned out to be potentially the Big Ten's best receiving corps was thrown back by injuries. Starter Cody White is indefinitely recovering after a broken hand in a September 29 win over Central Michigan and starter Darrell Stewart Jr. missed two of their last three games with an obvious ankle injury. In addition, the freshman Jalen Nailor of each of the last three games after a breakout performance was in a win in Indiana.
It's unclear when Stewart and Nailor will return, but the Spartans still have Felton Davis and he's a groundbreaking talent. The senior leads the team in all categories with 31 catches for 474 yards and four touchdowns and has a noisy score. He caught the game-changing touchdown at Penn State, is the Spartans' best offensive weapon, and should be even more targeted.
With two starters, Michigan State's depth has been tested as Cam Chambers, Brandon Sowards and Laress Nelson, and CJ Hayes have earned longer playing time. There have been some important games made by this group, but there is a drop-off with White and Stewart out.
Michigan State's tight-end production was virtually non-existent for the second season in a row and fifth-year Matt Sokol has struggled with drops. He and Matt Dotson combined three catches at Penn State for 48 yards, so the tight ends in the second half of the season will be more of a factor. Grade: B