MSU Football Drops Redbox Bowl

Colin Koot, Writer

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The Michigan State University football team dropped their bowl game against the University of Oregon in a low scoring game on New Year’s Eve.

The Spartans broke the scoring drought with 9:57 left in the third quarter, courtesy of a thirty four yard field goal by Matt Coghlin. After a quick three and out by the offense, Michigan State’s defense forced an Oregon punt from inside the twenty yard line.  “[The defense] was ready to play and were very good stopping the run and stopping Oregon from moving the chains,” freshman Cody Paul said.

With the great field position, Matt Coghlin was able to kick another thirty four yarder for a 6-0 lead.  “The defense made stops… to get good field position, but the offense couldn’t finish drives,” said freshman Jayln Sartor.  Michigan State’s defense allowed just twelve yards and one first down in the third quarter.

The only touchdown of the game came at the start of the fourth quarter,  Michigan State gave up three long passes by Justin Herbert, the Oregon quarterback, one of which went twenty eight yards for a touchdown.  In the game, Herbert threw for 166 yards and one touchdown.

The Michigan State defense was stellar throughout the game.  The unit gave up 203 total yards and only allowed 11 first downs.  “They stopped the run first, which caused Oregon to pass on third down,” said freshman Matthew McGonigal, “MSU did very well to stop the pass.”  Oregon was two of fourteen on third down and only possessed the ball for 21 minutes.

Michigan State’s offense continued their lackluster year into the Redbox Bowl, only putting six points on the board.  Michigan State ranked 126 of 130 teams for points per game on the year. “They were so poor offensively because of the many injuries they suffered throughout the season, the lack of playmakers they have, and the stale offensive plan,” McGonigal said.  The only success for Michigan State came in the third quarter, where they put an increased focus on the run game.

When the MSU offense got towards the red zone, they seemed to stall and settle for field goals.  They were never able to finish their drives and get touchdowns. “They had their opportunities to put the game away but just could not connect any clutch passes,” Paul said.  Sophomore Cody White led the Spartans in receiving with 64 yards.

Much of the blame for the poor Michigan State offense lies with offensive coordinator Dave Warner.  Warner has come under fire the past couple of years for his stubbornness to throw the football and go up tempo.  However, injuries were a major reality in Michigan State’s season. “The offensive troubles came with injuries most of the time and a not so confident quarterback,” Paul said.  Starting quarterback Brian Lewerke suffered a right shoulder injury halfway through the year, and MSU lost many key position players as well as several offensive lineman.

The Redbox Bowl was the final game for senior running back LJ Scott.  Scott had a great career as a Spartan, highlighted with a one yard touchdown run at the end of the 2015 Big Ten Championship vs. Iowa.  Scott declined the option to redshirt his senior season, and chose to enter the NFL draft after an injury filled season. “I think he ran harder, trying to impress the pro scouts and also to leave MSU on a good note,” McGonigal said.  Scott had 2588 rushing yards and twenty seven total touchdowns in his career.

A major piece of the dominant Spartan defense was junior middle linebacker Joe Bachie.  Bachie was a very important leader of the defense and led the squad with 102 tackles. Bachie was NFL ready and was able to declare for the draft.  However, Bachie decided to return to MSU, stating “we are not finished and neither am I.”

With the leader of the defense coming back for his senior year, MSU looks to keep its defensive prowess going into next season.  “[Bachie] will bring back some experience and he will be a good guy to lead the defense to another great defensive season,” said Sartor.

Michigan State has most of their starters back next year on offense and defense, so there is a lot of optimism for this Spartan team to do well next year.  However, Michigan State has a brutal schedule that includes games at Michigan, Ohio State, and Wisconsin. “I’m very optimistic about next year, it would make me feel a lot better if we got a new offensive coordinator because the talent is there on offense, so we need a good coach that can run with this particular offense,” Sartor said.  Michigan State’s first game of the year is August 31 vs. Tulsa.