Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 19, 2016

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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36 SEPT. 19, 2016 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED quarterback position that's as dy- namic as Connor Cook, but they still like their offensive line and L.J. Scott is the best offensive weapon they have as far as a guy that has the power and kind of can break through tackles but also has increased his speed. "He's a guy around here that's com- pared to [former Michigan State and current Pittsburgh Steelers running back] Le'Veon Bell a lot, and a lot of that is warranted. They've got a lot of new receivers, too. There are more questions in the passing game, which is going to lead them to run more. Their run-pass ratio, which they try to get 50-50, was way out of whack in week one. That's what they're go- ing to lean on and that's what they feel stronger about. You look at Notre Dame-Texas, they probably do see some opportunities there." One uncharacteristic statistic in Michigan State's game against Fur- man was the team's penalty issues. The Spartans committed 10 fouls for 120 yards, setbacks that kept the Pala- dins in the game. "There were three personal fouls, a couple late hits, and that was par- tially them playing some younger guys and partially just that it was opening night," Austin said. "Every- one was amped up to play, guys kind of played through the whistle a bit. They're trying to get them to learn from that. They're pretty confident that they'll be able to work through that, especially with a bye, and get that out of there." New Michigan State quarterback Tyler O'Connor — a senior who waited behind last year 's starter Cook, who went 34-4 at Michigan State and 2-0 in Big Ten champion- ship games — went 13-of-18 passing for 190 yards with three touchdowns against Furman. Still, he's not the NFL prospect that Cook was, though the Spartans aren't expecting him to be. "He's certainly not Connor Cook. They didn't ask him to be," Austin said of O'Connor. "He made some shorter throws, he's very accurate and made a couple bad decisions, and he had one bad pick where he stared down the guy and threw into coverage. "Overall he was OK, they kept things easy for him. He's not out there threading the needle like we saw Con- nor Cook do for the last three years. He was serviceable." Defensively, Michigan State allowed 87 yards on the ground against Fur- man, but the Paladins exposed some holes on the MSU defensive line. Outside of 6-6, 276-pound junior defensive lineman Malik McDowell — who is projected to be a first-round NFL Draft pick next year — Michigan State was unspectacular on the defen- sive line. "The guys around [McDowell] struggled," Austin said. "Furman really just ran the ball up the gut on them several times for a decent amount of yards, which was surpris- ing because we thought they'd be pretty decent in the interior." Michigan State returns just nine starters from last year 's team that went 12-2. Austin sees those depar- tures as the main reason the Spartans will lose to the Irish. "It can be a process to get back to that level where they were, and they're breaking in too many guys and trying to ask them to go on the road and get it all together," Austin said. "It seems like Notre Dame has a lot more coming back, a lot more ex- perience. [Michigan State] could be at that level at the end of the year, but I don't see them getting it together this quick that early." ✦ GAME PREVIEW: MICHIGAN STATE 2016 NOTRE DAME SCHEDULE Date Opponent (TV) Result/Time (ET) Sept. 4 at Texas (ABC) L, 50-47 (2OT) Sept. 10 Nevada (NBC) W, 39-10 Sept. 17 Michigan State (NBC) 7:30 p.m. Sept. 24 Duke (NBC) 3:30 p.m. Oct. 1 vs. Syracuse* TBA Oct. 8 at North Carolina State TBA Oct. 15 Stanford (NBC) 7:30 p.m. Oct. 29 Miami (NBC) 3:30 p.m. Nov. 5 vs. Navy^ (CBS) 11:30 a.m. Nov. 12 vs. Army# (NBC) 3:30 p.m. Nov. 19 Virginia Tech (NBC) 3:30 p.m. Nov. 26 at USC TBA * at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.; ^ at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Fla.; # at Alamodome in San Antonio 2016 MICHIGAN STATE SCHEDULE Date Opponent (TV) Result/Time (ET) Sept. 2 Furman (BTN) W, 28-13 Sept. 17 at Notre Dame (NBC) 7:30 p.m. Sept. 24 Wisconsin TBA Oct. 1 at Indiana (BTN) 8 p.m. Oct. 8 BYU TBA Oct. 15 Northwestern (BTN) 3:30 p.m. Oct. 22 at Maryland (BTN) 7:30 p.m. Oct. 29 Michigan TBA Nov. 5 at Illinois TBA Nov. 12 Rutgers TBA Nov. 19 Ohio State TBA Nov. 26 at Penn State TBA BTN — Big Ten Network Junior defensive lineman Malik McDowell is Michigan State's best NFL prospect. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN STATE ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

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