Michigan State began the 2017 College Football season with a 35-10 win over Bowling Green State, and while it was not pretty to start, the Spartans were able to gain their footing and enjoy a relatively easy second half. As you would expect in a season-opener, some guys were a little shaky, while others shown bright. Here are the three biggest takeaways from the game:
LJ Scott needs to work on ball control – Scott began the day looking great, helping the Spartans march down the field on their opening drive and looked like he was headed for six… And then the ball popped out. We fast-forward to the third quarter where Sparty is rolling and looking for more. Scott's handed the ball, get's stood up, looks like he's going down… AND THEN THE BALL POPPED OUT! Look, we all know LJ Scott has the talent to play football on Sundays, but if you can't hold onto the damn football, you aren't playing on any days for long.
The defense looked familiar – The Michigan State defense was a joy to watch today. They were fast, they were swarming, and they were making plays. The Falcons gained a grand total of 212 yards of offense. Quarterback James Morgan completed less than a third of his passes and threw a pass that MSU cornerback Tyson Smith stepped right in front of and took to the house. That, of course, was a special moment in its own right. The Spartan defense allowed three points, I don't care that it came against Bowling Green, any time your defense allows single-digit points, it's been a great day.
New faces making big plays – Brian Lewerke, despite a slow start, finished the day completing 66 percent of his 33 passes for 250 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran the ball eight times for a team-high 69 yards. Felton Davis III looks like he could become a special talent, hauling in two touchdowns on the day and almost snagging a phenomenal over-the-defenders-back catch that just got ripped out at the end. Punter Jake Hartbarger might be kicking on Sundays with the way he booted the ball today, averaging 49 yards per punt, sending one 57 yards, and leaving three inside the 20. And WR/RB/KR/PR Darrell Stewart Jr. looks to become a household name in a hurry. His day included a kick return of 22 yards, three punt returns, three rushes for 28 yards, and six catches for a team-high 85 yards.
So there you have it folks, Scott needs to be better, the defense looked very impressive, and some new faces might become household names in the near future. All in all the Spartans looked much better to start 2017 than they did in 2016, and with a favorable schedule that does not see them leave the state of Michigan until mid-October, Michigan State has a chance to surpass last year's win total by the end of September.