I had been watching the Bowl games for a while now. I watched the defeat of Northwestern in an amazing game against Missouri. I saw Wisconsin get there tails handed to them. I loved it when Iowa got a huge win over South Carolina. And then came the Michigan State vs. Georgia CapitalOne Bowl.
I had such high hopes to see two of the nation's best running backs in a bowl game, and watch them lead either of their teams to victory. The only problem with this was that both defenses showed up and kept both running backs under 65 yards. The two combined for just 109 yards on the ground.
So it fell onto the shoulders of the quarterbacks. Or not. The Spartans' signal-caller, Brain Hoyer, had 169 yards throwing, no TD passes, and a interception in the last few seconds.
The problem with Hoyer as a QB is that he is highly inconsistent and has a habit of throwing critical picks. Don't get me wrong. I like Hoyer as a play caller and he can possibly become a great coach one day, but he doesn't have enough skill to pull through against higher quality teams.
Who's to blame? One John L. Smith. First off, it feels better than blaming it on Mark Dantonio who I haven't seen him do anything wrong and secondly, the reason Michigan State lost was that the senior class of players that was recruited by Smith is not talented.
Besides running back Javon Ringer, I haven't seen any seniors that have been able to really step up to the challenge of playing at a high level. I look at current head coach Mark Dantonio's recruits, and they are arguably the best class of players to come to Michigan State in a long time. The Spartans managed to lure a running back that USC wanted to offer a full ride scholarship, and instead, Dantonio brought him to East Lansing.
We have a great group of freshmen and sophomores that are playing quite well and are going to be unstoppable by their senior year. In my opinion, the best underclassman at the Spartans' disposal has got has to be sophomore linebacker Greg Jones, who had at least 10 tackles in the bowl game and has played just as well throughout the year.
The only recruit that might save John L. Smith in my eyes has to be Keith Nichol. The former Sooners quarterback that was passed over in favor of Heisman-winner Sam Bradford transferred back to Michigan State after going to Oklahoma for one year since the coach that recruited him had been fired.
There is no doubt in my mind that Nichol is much more talented than Hoyer, and should add a passing game that the Spartans have been lacking for a while, an attack that was missing in the bowl game as well.
I don't really have anything more to say on this subject except that Michigan State has proven that it has a strong team this season, but the Spartans just don't have enough players with enough talent to compete against the big teams like Ohio State and USC. Basically, Michigan State would lose to any top-15 team, and can beat anyone below the top 15. Still, that is a great accomplishment for only a second-year coach, and next year should be even better with the level of talent coming in.
This is my first article critical of the Spartans, and I wrote it like this because I think someone needed to critique Michigan State on its performance, and it's best that it come from a Spartans fan, and not a Wolverine.