WEST LAFAYETTE – With the matchup comes a mismatch. Saturday’s showdown puts Michigan State’s growing offense against Purdue’s inconsistent defense.
The Spartans are coming off of a major win against Indiana last weekend, in which they posted 473 total yards and six touchdowns. Their energy and intensity will be carried over into the game against Purdue this weekend.
Purdue coach Darrell Hazell had plenty of praise to offer for Michigan State’s offense.
“What you see with the Michigan State offense is a quarterback really starting to play well, getting the ball out of his hands fast,” Hazell said. “But the more so than that, I see a very patient offense. They are playing behind their defense. They are not forcing the ball anywhere and if they have to punt it, they punt it.”
Even with the successful game for the Spartan’s offense last week, they still only average about 58.0 yards a game with 2.2 yards a carry on the season. With the lack of a consistent rush offense, the Spartans must rely on their passing game and their young quarterback to be successful.
Recently, the Purdue defense had switched up its defensive formation to a three-man front, allowing it to show more blitzing and to start to disrupt the quaterback in the pocket.
“We have to affect the quarterback,” said Purdue defensive coordinator Greg Hudson. “We have to do a better job of that.”
With the new three-man front, defensive ends Ryan Russell and Jalani Phillips have been moved around in the defense in order to make a bigger impact for the Boilermakers. The hope is that they can create pressure on the quarterback and give the rest of the defense a better chance to get a stop.
“[Russell and Phillips] give us maybe a better presence on the edge and those guys are coming in and filling gaps,” Hudson said. “So we can’t just sit back and be a seven-man sled; we have to keep it moving and keep getting better at it.”
The biggest threat to the Purdue defense will be found in the Spartans’ sophomore quarterback, Connor Cook, who has the ability to both run and pass the ball.
Cook took over the quarterback position in the Spartans’ second game of the season against South Florida, a 21-6 win. Even with his inexperience and youth, Cook has been able to jumpstart the Michigan State offense and increase the chemistry between him and his receivers, resulting in more yards and touchdowns.
“They are a very aggressive team,” said senior cornerback Ricardo Allen. “At the end of the day we really, we do the same thing with every team. We just got to go out and execute, make tackles and plays when they come your way.”
There’s a history of tightly-contested games between the Boilermakers and Spartans. For such a trend to continue on Saturday, Purdue’s defense must stifle a rapidly improving offense.
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