Kirk Cousins is missed at Michigan State for his charisma, leadership and, most of all, his passing ability. The current Washington Redskins quarterback also benefited from dependable pass catchers and dynamic playmakers such as Keshawn Martin and BJ Cunningham. The Spartans passing attack today looks nothing like it did when Cousins and company left campus after the 2011 season. After finishing dead last in the Big Ten in most major passing categories in 2012, Head Coach Mark Dantonio and staff made revival of the air game the program's chief priority. Based on Michigan State's game one performance, that focus and effort has yet to reap any rewards. The Spartans air attack sputtered in a 26-13 win over Western Michigan with just 17 completions in 37 attempts for a miniscule 116 yards against a MAC team that gave up over 30 points seven times last season. Dropped passes plagued MSU as it did throughout all of 2012. "We caught the ball all summer long, very, very well. For whatever reason we didn't catch the ball clean and had too many drops", said Dantonio after the game. Despite offseason focus on the quarterback battle between Senior Andrew Maxwell (11-21, 74 yards) and Sophomore Connor Cook (6-16, 42 yards), Dantonio made it clear that his signal callers' paltry numbers mainly resulted from poor receiver play. "Neither quarterback played poorly. Both played well enough to generate points. The ball was on the money numerous times. You gotta make the catch. It's pretty simple." Even when Spartan receivers held onto the pigskin, their catches had little impact. 6.8 yards per completion is not what Dantonio has in mind. "There was a lack of explosive plays. It's very difficult to go 4, 5, 4, 4, 3, 5 yards all the way down the field. We had opportunities, balls in the air. We gotta catch the football." Michigan State will try to get it right again next Saturday September 7th with South Florida in town.
September 1, 2013