Tuesday links: Is MSU defense a 'paper tiger?'

Here is an interesting place to start today’s daily links. The great Mike Griffith of Mlive.com has five alarming things we don’t know about this Michigan State team. Griffith’s most revealing item: Is the Michigan State defense a paper tiger? Interesting.

Check out his take:

Purdue ran the ball down Michigan State’s throat on its opening drive last Saturday. The defense adjusted, but not before we saw the Spartans get knocked off the ball by arguably the worst rushing attack in the Big Ten. What will happen against a quality run attack? Nebraska, anyone?

Then, the secondary. We all saw what happened against Notre Dame — the only decent, balanced offense the Spartans have played this season. A couple of the pass interference calls on the cornerbacks were questionable against the Irish, yes. But a couple of them weren’t.

The schedule is starting to get tougher. Stay tuned.

***

If you didn’t already know this, Nebraska’s reputation isn’t what it used to be. Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Herald deftly explains in this story. And, I think he’s correct. The Nebraska brand doesn’t buy the school the benefit of the doubt, especially when it comes to pollsters.

He sums the Huskers’ plight well here: “Reputations are built through results, not romance. The Huskers have to win often, win big, and help redeem the Big Ten, because league membership points aren’t going for much on the ratings market.”

***

Who is Devin Gardner’s favorite target? It’s not Devin Funchess. It’s Jeremy Gallon.

According to Brady Hoke, it’s not that Funchess makes Gallon dangerous, it’s that Funchess makes Gallon that much more dangerous. Heck, they feed off each other, right?

“There’s no question that’s a big part of it,” Hoke said. “The threat that Devin is vertically down the field, I don’t think there’s any doubt that he had a lot of attention from Indiana and their secondary. That in turn obviously helps Jeremy.”

This is funny. Michigan receiver Jeremy Gallon says he can’t replicate record-setting 369-yard receiving game vs. Indiana on a video game.

“I’ve got close, but never,” Gallon said. “I do it myself in the video game but I never imagined myself doing it in real life. It’s a lot more fun.”

***

It seems Urban Meyer isn’t pleased with Bradley Roby’s ejection from the Iowa game for targeting. He says “everybody is going to want to re-look at that rule.”

“That was not the intent of the rule,” Meyer said. “That play ‑‑ I can say that without, I’m sure, getting in trouble. That rule was not put for that play. … We teach them to get your pads down, hit with your shoulder pads.”

So, there is that. Honestly, I felt more players would have been booted from games thus far. Oh, and I think Roby’s hit merited ejection from what I learned at the official’s clinic this summer.

***

On the subject of targeting, Nebraska receiver Kenny Bell isn’t a fan of the new penalty for the infraction.

“You celebrate a good play in football,” Bell said. “They’re just trashing the game. It’s sad. It really is sad. You hit someone too hard now, you’re going to get a penalty. You could be ejected. It’s embarrassing.

“We signed up to play football,” he said. “We know exactly what we signed up to do. And for Stanley (Jean-Baptiste) to get ejected over that (hit), it blows my mind. It’s really disappointing.”

***

Iowa’s task of topping Northwestern got more difficult when the Wildcats released this week’s depth chart listing Kain Colter as the starting quarterback. He missed last week’s loss to Minnesota.

However, running back Venric Mark still is out with an ankle injury. Colter and Mark combined to rush for 328 yards in Northwestern’s 28-17 victory against Iowa last season.

“We’re not being successful enough on offense right now for us to win,” Pat Fitzgerald said. “If guys don’t show us consistent effort and improvement this week, we’re going to start rotating guys at different positions.”

More on the struggling Northwestern offense right here.

So, what are the problems? This story identifies three areas: Trevor Siemian’s awareness, the offensive line and drops by the receivers. So what does all of this mean? The gang at InsideNorthwestern.com says two weeks ago, people were talking about NU playing in the Rose Bowl. Now, bowl eligibility doesn’t seem like a guarantee.

***

Bob Flounders of Pennlive.com has another edition of Penn State Numerology 101.

My favorite number: 0. Punts by the Buckeyes in their 34-24 win over Iowa Saturday in Columbus. Braxton Miller & Co. amassed 30 first downs, 495 total yards and Ohio State kept the ball for 35 minutes.

Oh, Penn State plays at Ohio State on Saturday.

TWEETS THAT MATTER

My take: Some big respect.

My take: This sounds about right.

My take: Oh, boy.

My take: This was a bit of surprise. Should MSU hoops get bumped by the retirement of a manager who never even won a World Series?

My take: That’s impressive.

My take: Bravo!

My take: Good idea.

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

And if you want to leave a comment on this post, use the box below. All comments need to be approved by a moderator.

Find out more about:

Show Comments (6 Comments)
6 Post Your Comment
bigtengrad on 10/22/2013 @ 11:51am EDT Said:

Iowa’s losses have come to teams with a combined 20-1 record. Tom’s take is that is impressive. Their four wins have been over teams with a combined 8-21 record. What is his take on that? Just curious.

Patrick on 10/22/2013 @ 12:27pm EDT Said:

Leyland won a WS in ’97 with the Marlins.

Gary on 10/22/2013 @ 2:39pm EDT Said:

what bigtengrad said!!!! LOLZ

huskerfanbb on 10/22/2013 @ 3:57pm EDT Said:

I think it is unfair to characterize Michigan State’s defense as a “paper tiger”. Their defense is good–really good. However, is it good enough to overcome their bad offense? Can they truly hold teams such as Nebraska and Michigan under 20 points? That remains to be seen.
Their offense is anemic (witness 1 TD vs. hapless Purdue), so if they get in a game where the other team even scores much of anything at all, they’ll probably be in trouble as a team–but is that on their defense, or their offense?

Doug on 10/22/2013 @ 7:27pm EDT Said:

huskerfan – Mike Griffith is a U-M writer, you would think he would worry more about U-M’s defense than trying to bring down MSU’s, wouldn’t you think?

Doug on 10/23/2013 @ 9:11pm EDT Said:

Oh and MSU held ND and IU to half the yardage they normally get, jealous Griffith?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Have a question for BTN Customer Service? Please e-mail us here