December 29, 2012

Gameday: Analyzing the Keys

TEMPE, Ariz. - The two main keys to victory are almost always the same, when Michigan State is involved: stopping the run on defense, and establishing the run on defense.

A list of key subplots within those keys to the game for Michigan State in today's Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl against TCU:

Stopping the Run

1. One of TCU's favorite running plays is the inverted veer option, out of the shot gun.

On this play, the Frogs leave the play-side defensive end unblocked, and QB Trevone Boykin will hand it to a tailback running outside the DE, or Boykin will keep it and duck inside the DE. Nebraska's Taylor Martinez kept the ball inside of MSU d-end William Gholston for two long runs against the Spartans on the exact same play.

Boykin (6-2, 215) doesn't quite have Martinez's top-end speed or option knack, but he is a quality runner (380 yards on the season 3.3 yards per carry). He rushed for 77 yards on 10 carries against Texas on Thanksgiving night, including a 37 yarder on a zone read keeper.

MSU has had a month to tighten up its defense against the zone read, and inverted veer option. One would expect the Spartans, with the nation's No. 8 ranked rush defense, would fare much better in this area than they did when they allowed 313 yards on the ground to Nebraska.

2. When to Blitz?

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