Behind Enemy Lines: Michigan State

Maryland is starting off 3-0 for the third straight season and will be heading up to East Lansing for their first road test on the season. Michigan State will be without their head coach in Mel Tucker due to a sexual assault investigation and the Spartans are 2-1 and coming off of a 41-7 beat down to the hands of Washington and will be looking to bounce back. This week, we talk with Colin Jankowski of Spartans Illustrated to help Terps fans get some insight into the Spartans team and what to expect for Saturday.

John Gugs: Mel Tucker is pretty much gone and the Spartans gave Harlon Barnett the interim tag. With Tucker gone, do you expect the schemes and philosophy of the Spartans to change at all and if so, what exactly will change?

Colin Jankowski: Not really. I think they’re going to hold onto as much continuity as possible right now. The coordinators are still in place as well, so not too much should change there. Maybe we’ll see a few different looks, but overall it should be the same.

JG: Michigan State is coming off a 41-7 beat down to the hands of Washington. What needs to change from what happened in last week to this week in order to pull off the win?

CJ: Ultimately they need to be more disciplined. Michael Penix Jr. Is a very talented quarterback, but the Spartans were close a few times to making some plays last week. Missed tackles and mental mistakes just piled up for a major beat down. Maryland has some explosiveness, and that’s scary given the defensive showing we saw last week in East Lansing. Tackling will be the biggest thing this week.

JG: Michigan State has never lost to the Terps twice in a row and has only lost to the Terps once when hosting. What will the Spartans need to do to keep that up?

CJ: Kind of the same as last question, they need to be more disciplined. Can’t be making the same mental mistakes and missing tackles. They also can’t afford to start slow on offense. Maryland had had some slow starts but has exploded late in games so far. The Spartans need to put points on the board as often as possible so they don’t find themselves in the same scenario as the teams Maryland has beat this year.

JG: In last years game, the Spartans only scored 13 points and only had 321 yards of offense. The Spartans are coming off their worst offensive performance on the season. What will they need to do on offense to turn it around and pull out the win this season?

CJ: This was the first time I really had doubt about Noah Kim. Coming off a Big Ten Player of the Week performance against Richmond, he looked out of sync against Washington. Missed some easy throws, made some bad mistakes. His performance will be the key. The run game also needs to find some more success this week. They can’t afford to fall flat again.

JG: What are two key players Terps fans should look out for on offense that most people might not know about?

CJ: Christian Fitzpatrick. He’s an underrated receiver in a room full of talent. He’s got some size and speed. He’s had some long plays so far this season and has gotten himself into the rotation. Another is Montorie Foster. He’s another guy that other teams’ fans may not know about, but he’s a solid wide receiver on this team and has shown some flashes of his full potential.

JG: The defense is giving up 20.6 points per game so far this season however is coming off a game where they gave up 41 points. What will they need to do differently this week to have a bounce back week on defense?

CJ: I’d say keep everything in front of you. Last week against Washington there was quite a bit of broken coverage. Keep everything in front of you and make your tackles, you’re likely to keep yourself in the game.

JG: What are two key players Terps fans should look out for on defense that most people might not know about?

CJ: Tunmise Adeleye is a big name along the defensive line this season. Transferred in from Texas A&M and is a former five-star recruit. He sat last week against Washington and his presence was missed. Not sure exactly what the reason was, but Harlan Barnett seemed confident he’d be back this week. Dillon Tatum is a heck of a young DB. He’s still learning and growing, but he’s made some strong tackles so far and looks to be a good defender for the Spartans.

JG: What is your score prediction for the game and why?

CJ: I think this game will probably be close. Michigan State has a lot to clean up and I think they’ll take a step forward from last week’s performance, but Maryland’s talent might be strolling into East Lansing just a little too soon. I’ll take the Terrapins 28-24.

Maryland is looking to go 4-0 for the second time in three season and only need two more wins to make a bowl game this season. The Terps will be taking on the Spartans at 3:30PM EST on Saturday and the game will be airing on NBC making it their third nationally televised game this season.

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