Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio meets media after the Spartans' 38-31 win over Utah State on August 31, 2018.
Phil Friend, Lansing State Review
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Not yet buried Michigan State Football. Here's why
Yes, the Spartans put up 452 yards and 38 points. And yes, they did this without going left Cole Chewins. However, MSU was unable to generate a consistent running game between the tackles for much of the game, with LJ Scott averaging 3.7 yards and finishing 23 yards with 84 yards. Quarterback Brian Lewerke led the lead cool, but made two tremendous turnovers. And the Spartans committed five offensive punishments, including two during the 1-yard line. But Lewerke showed chemistry with his top recipients Felton Davis III, Darrell Stewart Jr. and Cody White. The trio combines 15 catches, 194 yards and two touchdowns. Backup running back Connor Heyward showed a good jump to the edge with two TD runs.
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Utah State's tempo They carried the Spartans until they experienced some pressure and a Joe Bachie Interception got to seal the game in the dwindling seconds. Aggie's QB Jordan Love dissects MSU in the same fashion as Clayton Thorson of Northwestern in a win last year. Love sank and dipped his way to 319 yards. The Spartans missed some tackles and awarded four defensive penalties, including two with twelve men on the field – discipline issues that can be corrected. However, they got some pressure when Kenny Willekes received two sacks and three QB express orders. Jacub Panasiuk's hit on Love forced one of the MSU's two interceptions. The Spartans continued to hold the run, holding Utah State at 25 yards to 25 Carries.
More MSU: Secondarily consolidated by Captain Khari Willis
Special Teams: 8
It was a big day for the kickers. Matt Coghlin drove a career-long 49-yarder and followed him with a 32-yarder on MSU's first two drives, then hit a 24-yarder in the fourth quarter. The new kickoff specialist Cole Hahn had flashbacks on six of his eight kickoffs. Connor Heyward and Darrell Stewart Jr. juggled Kick's return service, averaging 22.3 yards on their four returns. Cody White returned, but he did not come back.
A win is a win, they all count together – choose your cliché. Mark Dantonio said it best when he said, "It could be worse." And a loss in the opening race of what the MSU hopes would certainly have been a special season. But amid the mistakes that need to be cleared and the fear of playing a close game against a Mountain West opponent, the Spartans showed the ability they had in 2017 to win close games. However, you need to find more consistency if you want to take the next step.
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Contact Chris Solari: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari.
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