Here is our weekly Michigan State Spartans scout report.
Michigan State Offensive Scouting Report
Offensive coordinator: Jay Johnson, 2sd Season
Key players: RB Kenneth Walker, QB Payton Thorne, WR Jayden Reed, OL Kevin Jarvis, OL AJ Arcuri, TE Connor Heyward
Average points scored per game: 34.6
Average total yards gained per game: 449.6
Average passing yards per game: 251.8
Average rushing yards per game: 197.8
What to look for
Heisman candidate Kenneth Walker has been superb this year and leads the FBS in rushing yards and touchdowns with 1,437 yards and 17 touchdowns. His offensive line was smashed, which forced a lot of rotations up front, but offensive line coach Chris Kapilovic did an outstanding job with this unit.
When not running towards Walker, quarterback Payton Thorne’s two main targets are Jayden Reed and Jalen Nailor. Nailor’s status for Saturday is uncertain as he’s been out since injuring his hand in the Michigan game a few weeks ago. Last week, the Spartans won the possession time battle against Maryland by controlling the ball nearly 12 minutes longer than the Terrapins. I would expect Sparty’s game plan to be the same in an effort to keep the high-powered Buckeye offense off the field.
The three keys of Cav for the Buckeyes
1) Discipline in Run Fits: In order for the Buckeyes to limit Walker’s production, they will need to play in a disciplined manner and maintain their gap responsibility. If the Buckeyes’ top seven try to guess and fill in their gaps, Walker will find the seams or bounce on the outside for big wins.
2) 11 hats at the ball: Walker has managed to make aspiring tacklers miss this year. Along with executing the game plan designed to stop Walker, the Buckeyes will want to play with great energy and relentless pursuit. To that end, expect de facto defensive coordinator Matt Barnes to spin his first seven to keep his guys fresh.
3) Reed your keys: Reed’s spelling is intentional. Buckeye’s secondary will need to be precise in reading his keys to stop Jayden Reed, MSU’s top receiver. Reed enters this game with 45 receptions and an impressive 18.4 yards per catch. Buckeye’s defense will look to respond to last week’s performance against the Boilermakers, which included almost 400 yards surrender and 4 touchdowns in the air against Aidan O’Connell and the Boilermaker offense.
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