2021 COLLEGE FOOTBALL CAPSULE: MICHIGAN STATE

HEAD COACH: MEL TUCKER

RECORD AT MICHIGAN STATE: 2-5

CAREER RECORD: 7-12

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR: JAY JOHNSON

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: SCOTTIE HAZELTON

RETURNING STARTERS:

OFFENSE: 7

DEFENSE : 7

KEY RETURNING PLAYERS:

QB ANTHONY RUSSO

RB KENNETH WALKER III

DE JACUB PANASUIK

KEY LOSSES:

CB SHAKUR BROWN

LB ANTJUAN SIMMONS

DT NAQUAN JONES

2020 RESULTS:

Rutgers 27 – 38

at Michigan 27 – 24

at Iowa 7 – 49

Indiana 0 – 24

Northwestern 29 – 20

Ohio State 12 – 52

at Penn State 24 – 39

2021 SCHEDULE

September 4 at Northwestern

September 11 Youngstown State

September 18 at Miami

September 25 Nebraska

October 2 Western Kentucky

October 9 at Rutgers

October 16 at Indiana

October 30 Michigan

November 6 at Purdue

November 13 Maryland

November 20 at Ohio State

November 27 Penn State

2020 BIG 10 RANKINGS:

OFFENSE:

SCORING: 18.0 (14).

RUSHING: 91.4 (13)

PASSING: 238.9 (7)

TOTAL OFFENSE: 330.3 (14)

DEFENSE:

SCORING: 35.1 (14)

RUSHING: 157.3 (8)

PASSING: 239.4 (9)

TOTAL DEFENSE: 396.7 (7)

TURNOVER MARGIN: -9

FIELD POSITION:

OFFENSE: 25.4

DEFENSE: 35.3

EFFICIENCY:

OFFENSE: 33.9%

DEFENSE: 38.8%

EXPLOSIVENESS:

OFFENSE: 4.8

DEFENSE: 5.3

FINISHING DRIVES:

OFFENSE: 3.4

DEFENSE: 4.3

ADJUSTED TURNOVER MARGIN:

PROJECTED: -3.4

ACTUAL: -9

2020 INDIVIDUAL LEADERS:

PASSING: Rocky Lombardi, 84 completions, 157 attempts, 1090 yards, 8TD, 9INT

RUSHING: Jordan Simmons, 56 attempts, 219 yards, 3.9 yards per carry, 0TD

RECEIVING: Jayden Reed, 33 receptions, 407 yards, 12.3 yards per catch, 3TD

TACKLES: Antjuan Simmons: 75

SACKS: Drew Beesley, 3.0, Michael Fletcher 3.0

INTERCEPTIONS: Shakur Brown 5

WHAT THE SCOUTS ARE SAYING:

2020 was definitely a hard season for Michigan State coach Mel Tucker who left Colorado to take over a program that needed a new direction. Tucker got hired very late and then had to battle the pandemic, so you really didn’t get a good look at what they could do.

Tucker will focus heavily on recruiting and will attempt to make Michigan State a contender with Michigan and Ohio State.

The offense needs a shot in the arm after ranking 14th overall in the Big Ten. They were terrible last season because of the new staff and the new scheme. More growing pains could be in store for the Spartans this season as they continue to modify talent left over from previous coach Mark Dantonio.

FINAL ANALYSIS:

Mel Tucker wasn’t given an opportunity to show what he can do as a head coach. Hired late and battling the pandemic work two key hurdles Tucker was not able to overcome. He inherited a program that was depleted after Mark Dantonio (retired) was shown the door. The Spartans finished 2 – 5 in a pandemic shortened season and did beat Michigan, but they must show the Spartan nation that the rebuilding process has taken a huge step.

Finding a way to improve the offense will be a huge key for Michigan State this season. Temple grad transfer quarterback Anthony Russo will give Michigan State a solid player under center. They have one of the deepest wide receiver corps in college football and a veteran offensive line.

Coach Tucker changed the defense in his first season and upfront they will be solid. Linebacker is perhaps the weakest position on the team, but they did get to grad transfers that will fill the void.

2021 will truly be coach Tucker’s first season. If the Spartans can find their identity on defense and see improvement drastically on offense, Michigan State may surprise some people in the Big Ten. There September 4 opener at Northwestern and a road trip to Miami September 18 in their first three games will say a lot about Michigan State.

MICHIGAN STATE ROSTER: https://msuspartans.com/sports/football/roster

MICHIGAN STATE 2020 STATS: https://msuspartans.com/documents/2020/10/31/MSUFootballSeasonStats121220.pdf