Three Up and Three Down: Grading Spartan Football From Indiana Game

Michigan State University vs. Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, October 1, 2016
Michigan State University vs. Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, October 1, 2016

Three Up: the three Spartans who helped themselves the most versus the Hoosiers:

  1. The Spartan RB rotation has not been handled well going back as far as the entire 2015 season. Gerald Holmes didn’t carry the ball at all versus Furman. He carried 13 times for 100 net yards against the Irish and stunningly didn’t carry the ball one time versus Wisconsin. Once again when given the rock he shined. Shockingly, he wasn’t called on to run the football until the fourth quarter versus the Hoosiers, but he did nine times for 52 yards. For some reason that makes no sense he didn’t touch the ball in overtime. Despite the continued poor running back rotation by Co-OC Dave Warner he again showed that he is a star RB.
  2. Chris Frey, Jr. was credited officially with a team high seven tackles, but watching the film he had closer to 14. He was all over the field and had the best game of any defender. The one fumble that he should have had (no excuses) he was going full speed and although have yet to ask him, appeared that his momentum would take him out of bounds and it looked like he tried to save it. Down his two co-starters he shined.
  3. Spartan redshirt freshman OL Tyler Higby not only played, he showed flashes of dominance on the OL that certainly pointed to a bright future. He is a star in the making.

Three Down: the three Spartans who hurt themselves the most versus the Hoosiers:

  1. K Michael Geiger is a great kid, but is not the same kicker that he was as a freshman. His first year, he was in my opinion the best K in the nation. Since his surgery he is simply a mere shadow of himself. With a chance to go up 10 points (two scores) in the fourth quarter Dantonio left Geiger on the bench instead of taking the 49 yard field goal. That is not Dantonio football, but Geiger had failed on a kick earlier in the game and Dantonio simply didn’t have the confidence. It is sad to see Geiger digress, because he is a great young man, but the reality is he isn’t performing at a Big Ten level. MSU must consider breaking the red shirt off of freshman K Mat Coghlin.
  2. Drake Martinez transferred into MSU and is a powerful player with speed to burn, but he is plagued by mistakes on special teams. He hasn’t been able to break into a starter's role despite trying to make it at multiple positions, and frankly his mental errors and penalties can no longer be tolerated.
  3. Co-OC Dave Warner & OL Coach Mark Staten Erratic play calling (Warner), wasted timeouts, and players not prepared after a timeout (Warner & Staten), lack of using plays such as screens and slants to neutralize the rush (Warner) and an offensive line that has struggled versus Wisconsin and Indiana (Staten) is unacceptable. Add to that the aforementioned struggles with the running back rotation (Warner) and a failure to utilize superior tight ends (play calling Warner) is all on them. I like both men, this isn’t personal, but it is reality.


Mark Dantonio has made it clear that while Mark Snyder has the title “Special Teams Coordinator” it isn’t fair to credit the special teams failures of the last two seasons on him. Dantonio has made it clear that each coach has an assignment on MSU special teams so it is a staff wide responsibility. Taking Dantonio at his word (because he is a man of integrity) then you have to put the onus for the failures of the MSU special teams on the entire staff. Jake Hartbarger is the only player who has consistently performed at a high level and new long snapper Colin Caflisch has done a good job for a freshman. Punt coverage, kick coverage, kick returns, punt returns, kickoffs and field goals have all struggled.