So far this season, there have been a number of elements to the Michigan State offense that have had analysts and fans concerned; most-notably, the quarterback situation and running game.
On Wednesday, MSU coaches acknowledged that with Connor Cook filling in the role of starting QB nicely, the team's ground game has also seen considerable progress, as well.
When last year's superstar running back in Le'Veon Bell decided to leave the Spartans for the NFL early last spring, a massive hole was left in the running game that had coaches scrambling to fill.
Their answer? Plug in any number of backs, from young to more experienced, and see who could get the job done best. While the quarterback situation was solved by the season's fourth game by inserting dominant starter, Cook, the running game still left a few questions that needed to be answered.
Now, with the increased success of many of the Spartans' freshman and sophomore players, and the added help from the likes of RB Nick Hill, the Michigan State coaches feel they finally have a cohesive unit to help balance the short passing game of Cook.
“We knew we were going to miss Le’Veon and we knew it was going to be more running back by committee coming in to this season,” co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach Dave Warner said. “The last couple weeks things have come together for us as an offense.”
Cook has been doing a very good job balancing most of the offense on his shoulders and, more specifically, his throwing arm. With the increased production from the squad's running backs, coaches can focus more on a more balanced attack against some tough defenses.
“We always have that in mind -- to try and stay as balanced as we can, 50-50 in our offense,” Warner said. “When we’re running the football it allows us to be balanced and that’s our goal.”
Junior tailback Jeremy Langford had an explosive game against Indiana last Saturday, leading the Spartans with 109 yards on the ground and three rushing touchdowns. Langford leads all of the MSU backs with 70 yards averaged per game, but knows that the ability to juggle in talented players like Nick Hill and true freshman Delton Williams can be an incredible asset to the offensive coaches.
“We’re just being physical,” Langford said. “And when we get past the line of scrimmage, make somebody miss and make the big plays downfield. We’re staying positive day by day, play by play.”
You can follow MSU writer, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.