Chris Solari Detroit Free Press Published 9:30 AM EST Nov 19, 2018 LINCOLN, Neb. — Rocky Lombardi stuck to his script. “I didn’t see any drops.” You didn’t see any drops? “No.” Of course, Michigan State’s quarterback saw them. Every one of the 88,793 bundled-up fans in Memorial Stadium did. His coaches did. Even his defense did from the sidelines. At least seven of Lombardi’s 25 incompletions touched his intended receivers’ hands —some high, some wide, some right on target. But he wanted to put the blame on himself and not spread it around. That’s simply a quarterback protecting his teammates and avoid division. That’s all the Spartans can do right now as a group. MSU arrives at the final game of a tumultuous regular season in a tenuous spot. Not just at quarterback, where coach Mark Dantonio continues to try and juggle Lombardi and Brian Lewerke. But with an entire offense that continues a drop also … [Read more...] about Michigan State football’s Dantonio has tough decisions ahead
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Jeff Seidel Detroit Free Press Published 6:56 PM EDT Oct 6, 2018 EAST LANSING — Free Press columnist Jeff Seidel tackles the tough questions after Northwestern’s 29-19 victory over Michigan State on Saturday at Spartan Stadium. What is wrong with Brian Lewerke? Statistically, he wasn’t horrible on Saturday. He completed 31 of 51 passes for 329 yards with a touchdown. But he was not sharp. "It's not in the yards sometimes, it's in the production and the points behind it," MSU coach Mark Dantonio said. Lewerke threw too many bad passes. And he didn’t see some open receivers. Cody White was out with an injury, but this was more than that. “He's got to play better obviously than he did,” Dantonio said. What's the problem? To begin with, MSU does not have a consistent running game, and that makes everything harder for a quarterback. It can even mess with a quarterback’s head. Lewerke admitted that he might be pressing a … [Read more...] about Michigan State football: What’s wrong with Brian Lewerke?
Chris Solari Detroit Free Press Published 2:31 p.m. UTC Aug 24, 2018 EAST LANSING — To the outside world, the roof appeared to be falling in on Michigan State’s football program. To those inside the walls of the Duffy Daugherty Football Building, the offseason between the Spartans’ misery of 2016 and the rebirth in 2017 was a time for insulation and reflection. And a time to remember their own expectations and goals had not changed. “I think we kind of came together in the offseason,” senior safety Khari Willis recalled Thursday. “And then headed into (2017), we kind of built a little momentum, built a little trust in ourselves. Having to always be overlooked and stuff like that just gave us fuel to go out and do what we do. And that’s trying to perform at the highest level.” Which brings MSU full circle to 2018. More: Michigan State's 2018 projected depth chart: Plenty of starters back The Spartans finished 10-3 last fall to prove … [Read more...] about Why Michigan State football is due for a Big Ten title run
Chris Solari Detroit Free Press Published 9:11 p.m. UTC Aug 4, 2018 EAST LANSING — So much changed in one year, although that is nothing new for Michigan State football. Young, inexperienced players quickly became leaders. Perceived weaknesses turned into proven strengths. High expectations vanished and then returned. Now, the Spartans are once again considered contenders for a Big Ten title and beyond, following coach Mark Dantonio out of the shadows of the 2016 season into the promise of the 2018 preseason. “Reaffirmation means getting back to where you were, where you started, I think,” Dantonio said Tuesday after MSU’s first practice. “And I think that was apparent last year. I think right now, it’s more like handle success and build on what we’ve got, build on that foundation.” More Spartans: Michigan State football 'hungry,' focused on sustaining 2017 success Michigan State defensive line setting lofty goals for 2018 … [Read more...] about Michigan State football faces familiar challenge of high expectations
Chris Solari Detroit Free Press Published 9:13 p.m. UTC Aug 1, 2018 EAST LANSING – Michigan State football begins preseason camp in 2018 a world away from where it did a year ago. The Spartans are coming off an impressive season after missing a bowl game for the first time in Mark Dantonio’s tenure in a disastrous 2016, in which they went 3-9. They return all but three starters from a team that produced MSU’s best turnaround last fall, a 10-3 campaign in which they were in contention for a Big Ten East title until November and then won the Holiday Bowl over Washington State. Though there are not many unsettled positions going into Thursday’s opening practice, the Spartans do have some questions on the field before their Aug. 31 season-opener at home against Utah State (7 p.m., Big Ten Network). Defensive end Former walk-on Kenny Willekes, who emerged from seemingly nowhere last season to seize a starting job on one side, returns as an impressive … [Read more...] about Michigan State football: 5 positions to watch as preseason camp opens