EAST LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — There was one obvious question for Mark Dantonio when he entered the media room under Spartan Stadium after Michigan State rolled over Western Michigan 51-17 Saturday night: How did that offense come to life?
The catapult for the momentum started with the first two plays of the game, Dantonio said.
“We had a couple big plays and I think those kind of things energize you a little bit,” Dantonio said. “It gives you a confidence and (the players) maintained that. That is the expectation every week. Who knows if we will get that, but it was a very bright day out there.”
Very bright, indeed. The performance sticks out like a sore thumb compared to any of MSU’s offensive showings dating back to 2018.
Against the Broncos, the Spartans totaled 582 yards of offense. Last season, the Spartans never crossed over 500 yards. The highest total was against Utah State in the season opener with 452 yards and 38 points.
In Week 1 of the 2019 season, MSU had 303 yards versus Tulsa for the game. Against WMU, MSU had 365 yards in the first half alone. The Spartans had one offensive touchdown against the Golden Hurricanes. They had three scores with two minutes left in the first quarter in Week 2.
The stats go on and on, but anyone who watches MSU football couldn’t miss the difference. MSU finally had some offensive rhythm.
“I think last Saturday people saw how the real game is played and just how much concentration it takes,” offensive coordinator Brad Salem said. “I’m excited for our kids with the way they responded.”
The Spartans response was firing on all cylinders and didn’t let all game.
It started up front, where they made large gaps through the defensive line for running lanes time and time again. Freshman tailback Elijah Collins took full advantage. Bobbing and weaving through the defense while breaking would-be tacklers, Collins rushed for 192 yards on just 17 attempts — the most by a starting freshman running back in Spartan football history. While averaging 11.3 yards per carry is more than likely unsustainable, MSU appears to have found its next go-to back.
Senior quarterback Brian Lewerke played his best game in over a year. The Tacoma, Washington, native completed 23 of 32 passes for 314 yards with three touchdowns and one interception, which was a tipped pass. Confidence appeared to be surging through the signal-caller.
On the receiving end of that confidence were his top-two pass catchers: Darnell Stewart and Cody White. Stewart had 10 receptions for 185 yards and a score to lead the Spartans in receiving yards. White added five receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown.
Will this explosive offense be something the Spartans can rely on? Only time will tell. There are at least 10 more games to test whether the offense can operate efficiently and effectively with consistency.
What is proven is the Spartans have offensive weapons and tools to produce big numbers. Now they want to build off of it.
“I just coach one play at a time,” Dantonio said. “I thought we were in rhythm, I thought Lewerke played outstanding and you can see what he can do when he is healthy and confident. Good things are happening. We need to be consistent with what we are doing.”