Mark Dantonio must ensure dramatic Offensive improvement to guard against a split Locker Room

Mark Dantonio has one of the most prolific Defenses in the land, and at the moment he also owns one of the worst Offenses in the Land.

How is that possible?

Mark Dantonio didn’t mince words:

I was openly critical of the Spartans Offense after their game vs Tulsa on Friday night and for good reason.

In fact, in my post game Blog I gave a failing grade…an Bolded F…to the Rushing Offense. I have never given a failing grade to any Spartan unit before, Offense, Defense or Special Teams because there are usually some redeeming contributions from each unit regardless of the final result on the scoreboard. Yet, amidst high hopes to reverse its dismal performance of 2018 whereby the Spartan Rushing Offense averaged a dismal 125 Yards Rushing per game, nevertheless Friday night the Rushing Offense regressed from pathetic to horrible and posted a meager 68 Yards Rushing amongst 3 Running Backs, or just 2.26 Yards per carry on 30 attempts and zero TD’s vs the #118 ranked Rushing Defense from 2018.

If you include Quarterbacks and Receivers on Running Plays, the Offense compiled just 108 Yards Rushing (normally what a good team will compile in one half). When all was said and done, the Offense scored just one Touchdown. It’s also notable the Spartan Offense committed 9 momentum ending penalties for minus 69 yards, while receivers dropped 5 catchable passes, and all combined that earns the entire Offense…not just the Rushing Offense…but the entire Offense, a Bolded F.

The Offense better get in the game…

In his Tuesday news conference, Mark Dantonio was equally critical of the Offense. Here is what he said:

“I can say this, football is a game of effort, toughness and knowing what to do. Half of our team figured that out, half of it didn’t. We will make sure that other half gets it figured out this week. I was disappointed in the effort when I see guys running routes that are not at full speed…I see guys throwing a shoulder, not addressing a defender. Can’t happen.

“We’ve predicated ourselves on being tough here any way you cut it. That message is going to get sent, whether it’s public or not. I’m sure nobody appreciates us running the ball for 67 yards (I calculated 68 Yards, while coach calculated 67 yards: in either case the total is dreadful), especially the guy in charge. We’ll fix that.

“I’m not shying away from that responsibility”.

Mark Dantonio is a no nonsense guy, and his public comments are unprecedented because he usually keeps his comments inside the locker room, so for Mark Dantonio to express his displeasure in a public forum underscores his displeasure. So if I were a betting man, I would bet Mark Dantonio will “fix” the problematic Offensive issues in whatever manner is needed, in short order, and no one is safe.

Superb performance:

While the Offense stumbled, the Spartan Defense and certain units of Special Teams performed superbly, above and beyond the call of duty and there were plenty of Championship caliber performances that we need to celebrate.

Here are a few highlights that suggest Spartan aspirations for a Big Ten title are still in the cross hairs, take a look:

  • 1 Blocked punt
  • 1 Interception
  • 1 Safety
  • 2 Fumble recoveries (1 fumble recovered for a TD)
  • 6 Sacks
  • 13 Tackles for loss

A football team can play an entire season without ever achieving those stats, yet the Spartans earned the entire list in a single night on the opening game of the season.

Moreover, the Spartans converted 4 of 4 Field Goal attempts (100% proficiency) from 38-47-44-and 40 Yards respectively while the Punting unit consistently pinned Tulsa deep inside their own territory by way of 5 punts that averaged 47.4 Yards, including a 61 and 57 Yard punt, while two Punts were downed inside the 20: one at the Tulsa 8 Yard Line.

The Spartan Defense exceeds expectations:

So, now the Spartans are 1-0 and a shining light when we contemplate title aspirations is the fact the Spartan Defense has taken the Baton from their Top 10 Defense in 2018, and sprinted out of the starting blocks in 2019 to establish itself as a Top 5 Defense. By every measure, the Spartans own one of the most prolific Defenses in all of college football and we should give due credit to Defensive Coordinator, Mike Tressel and his cadre of assistant coaches including Ron Burton, Chuck Bullough, Paul Haynes and Terrence Samuel.

Last year Tulsa averaged an impressive 200 Yards Rushing per game, and yet the Spartans dismantled Tulsa’s Rushing Offense and when every running play was tabulated, Tulsa was thrown for 100 Yards in losses, and posted minus 73 Yards Rushing (-73). And now, the Spartans rank in the Top 5 (out of 127 Division 1 Schools) in 5 “key” categories, and not a single pundit/beat writer is writing about it.

Take a look at these rankings and values:

#1 Rushing Defense (-73 Yards)

#3 Total Defense: 80 Yards

#5 First Down yielded: 8

#5 Turnover Margin (+3)

At the bottom line (Spartans cannot afford a split locker room):

The Spartan Defense is a game changing, dominating unit, while the FG unit and Punting unit are as good as any in the country.

Now the Offense needs to step up, get in the game if you will, because if they don’t, it is highly likely the Locker Room will split and in that case, all will be lost. You can bet on this: no one inside the Spartan Locker Room is safe from public ridicule, public scorn or losing their job. There is too much invested to have it any other way.