Illinois’ top-rated defense presents another challenge to the crime-fighting state of Michigan

EAST LANSING – After a 3-0 loss in the first quarter at Michigan State last week, Michigan State reacted swiftly.

Six plays spanning 75 yards at 1:57 limited by passing 26 yards touchdown from Payton Thorne to Keon Coleman.

The weaker Spartans took the lead and had a road life against the No. 4 Wolverines, but that was their only result in the game. They were cut off the rest of the way and ended up with just 252 yards in a 29-7 loss.

“I am looking at our offensive and at the moment we are not performing at a high enough level at all – especially in the second half,” said Thorne. “You look back at the movie and to be honest it’s really disappointing. You look back at mental errors. It wasn’t even physical stuff, it’s like mental, how is what we do?

“It’s not one guy, it’s as an individual, and we’re all in this together, so we all have to hold each other accountable or find a way to get through it. In a game like this, you can’t have them, it won’t work. “

Four more Michigan State players have been suspended following the tunnel incidents

Michigan State only had 63 yards in the second half against Michigan, 51 of which were caught by Coleman as the Spartans conceded 22 in the fourth quarter. The Spartans conceded three goals in the third quarter, while operating only eight yards. Although their defense forced Wolverines to kick five outfield goals, the offensive was not close enough.

“Our defense played their asses, kept them on the field goals all night,” said Thorne, “and we didn’t do enough to put ourselves in a position where we could fight in the fourth quarter.”

Michigan State (3-5, 1-4 Big Ten) have lost five of the last six games in a disappointing season with an offense that fell short of expectations. The Spartans are ranked 111th in the country in terms of total offensive (336.9) and tied in 93rd place in terms of the number of points (24.5). Thorne has been inconsistent this season, throwing an average of 214.2 yards per game with 12 touchdowns and eight steals. The running match was a major problem, while in the last six matches averaged just 53.8 yards. These and other problems were seen in the Michigan loss, especially in the second half.

“I didn’t see anything that was structural from the program point of view,” said coach Mel Tucker. “Failure to perform is either mental or physical. We didn’t do well enough in the second half.

Michigan State recorded two declines in the first half, while both were stopped in fourth and one place. The first was in the first quarter when Elijah Collins was pushed to the line near midfield. He was next in the second quarter when the drive was stuck in the red zone. Needing one yard to score at Michigan 5 and coming out of the break, the Spartans went with a slow-paced running game and Jalen Berger was turned down for a 2-yard loss.

Tucker said it was a good test, but there was a problem with snap counting. Thorne, who was positioned below the center, said he should have changed the game to keep it alone.

“I should have sneaked up there,” he said. “If I had called the game twice before the throw when I saw the game I had, we wouldn’t even be in that position, I don’t think so. They had one of their non-corner guys keeping an eye on Jayden (Reed) in space, and I thought about it for a moment. I think he was the second so I figured we would just drive it and still have two downs to get it, and that was stupid. I should have checked it out and let him play.

After losing 5v6 and the Michigan incident, the Spartans must stick together

Michigan State tied with just seven points last week, and its offensive limited side are heading for an important test in Illinois (7-1, 4-1) on Saturday. The Fighting Illinois ranks first nationally in Total Defense (224.5) and Scored Defense (8.9) and is second in defense per run (75.6) and allowed yards (148.9). This meager unit led to a surprising twist for second year coach Bret Bielema.

“Bret is a goddamn trainer,” said Tucker. “It does a really good job. They play at a high level. When it comes to defense, they are the leaders of the country in almost every category and are capable of playing back ball, play hard, and are physically. They have really good players and they have a really good plan.

After losing 23-20 to Indiana on September 2, Illinois won six in a row and is in first place in the Big Ten West Division. During this streak, Fighting Illinois had four teams to under 10 points and allowed no more than 14 while losing only six touchdowns throughout the season, which is also the first in the country. Defensive tackle Jer’Zhan Newton leads the team with 39 pickups and five reloads and was voted All-American by The Associated Press mid-season, while defender Devon Witherspoon scored one interception and 11 passes as a Jim Thorpe Award Semi-Finalist. the nation’s upper defensive back.

“They have good technique at the front, they’re physically,” Thorne said of Illinois. “They don’t play a lot of different fronts and really don’t play a lot of different relationships, they’re just really good at what they do.”

The Spartans, who have eight defensive players indefinitely suspended after the Michigan incident, must win three of their last four matches to achieve six wins and qualify for the cup. They averaged only 16.2 points per game in Big Ten, which is only ahead of Rutgers at the conference, and Illinois will be a big challenge.

“They’re a good defense and we’ll have to play well,” said Thorne. “At the same time, I am convinced that the guys who are standing next to me can come out and try to play.”

Related Michigan Soccer Stories:

Mel Tucker on Illinois Delay Preparation and Injury Updates

Overheard at Mel Tucker’s press conference: Unacceptable and taking action

The film shows Jacoby Windmon from Michigan involved in the post-match incident

Michigan State’s Mel Tucker “sorry” for the incident after the game in Michigan

Tunnel fighting and suspensions stain the Mel Tucker and Michigan State season

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