While many might be worried about junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell and his receiving corps right now, which they shouldn’t, it must also be noted that the Spartans committed 10 penalties for 90 yards in their 17-13 victory over Boise State Friday night.
The four turnovers by Michigan State obviously killed some big drives, but the penalties really hurt the Spartans at times as well. Michigan State’s miscues compared to Boise State’s two turnovers and three penalties for 35 yards was the reason that the Spartans didn’t run away with this game early on. With time, those errors will be fixed. Let’s disect each penalty and see how they affected the Spartans:
1.) Michigan State’s first possession ended with a Le’Veon Bell touchdown. Keep in mind, Maxwell was 4-of-4 at that time. When the Spartans had the ball the second time, Maxwell threw a perfect pass to sophomore Tony Lippett over the middle on the first play. The ball went right through Lippett’s hands and into the hands of Boise State’s Jamar Taylor. The Broncos kicked a field goal on that drive. MSU 7 BSU 3. The Spartans started their third possession on the 27-yard line and moved the ball all the way to Boise’s 27-yard line. On 3rd-and-10, the Spartans committed a false start penalty. On 3rd-and-15, Maxwell’s pass went incomplete and the Spartans settled for a field goal. MSU 10 BSU 3.
2.) The Broncos were moving the ball at the end of the first into the beginning of the second. After a Boise false start, it was 2nd-and-15 at MSU’s 25-yard line. Sophomore William Gholston was called for roughing-the-passer on that play. Redshirt freshman R.J. Williamson intercepted a pass three plays later in the end zone. There’s a great example of the Spartans clamping down in the red zone.
3.) Michigan State’s fourth possession seemed like it was going to end with a punt. While being rushed on 3rd-and-10, Maxwell tried to throw a screen pass to senior running back Larry Caper off-balance. The ball went off Caper’s hands and into the hands of Boise’s Jeremy Ioane, who returned it for a touchdown. MSU 10 BSU 10. The Spartans began their fifth possession, which was full of miscues, on the their own 32-yard line. On 3rd-and-2 at MSU’s 40-yard line, Bell carried the ball for one yard. Redshirt freshman left guard Jack Allen was called for a chop block on the play, which set up 3rd-and-16.
4.) The Spartans then committed a false start penalty to make it 3rd-and-21. So instead of 4th-and-1 on their own 41-yard line (Dantonio probably would have gone for it too), the Spartans pushed themselves 2o yards back.
5.) After an incomplete pass, sophomore punter Mike Sadler punted the ball away and then was called for a personal foul (late hit). “I’ve never seen a punter get a late hit on the sideline,” Defensive Coordinator Pat Narduzzi said after the game. “You shouldn’t even call it on a kicker. It’s not fair.” That penalty set up the Broncos at MSU’s 30-yard line, and they settled for a field goal. So, Boise State’s two scoring drives, both ending with field goals, started at MSU’s 22-yard line and the 30-yard line. That says a lot about MSU’s defense. BSU 13 MSU 10.
6.) On their sixth offensive possession, Michigan State moved the ball to Boise State’s 40-yard line before Le’Veon Bell was stuffed on 4th-and-1. Junior linebacker Denicos Allen recovered a fumble and Michigan State took over on Boise State’s 48-yard line with 1:23 remaining in the half. Maxwell’s first pass went incomplete after being hurried to throw the ball. He completed his next five passes, but the fifth completion to Bell was taken back due to a holding call. Instead of it being 2nd-and-2 at the 13-yard line, it was 1st-and-12 at the 23-yard line. The next play, Maxwell threw it behind junior wide receiver Bennie Fowler and the pass was intercepted by Boise State’s Lee Hightower. Like I said in my previous article, if Maxwell throws that two feet to the right, Fowler scores and Maxwell is a hero. Moreover, if the Spartans didn’t commit that holding penalty, they would have been in a better position to score. Halftime.
7.) Michigan State received the ball in the second half and started their eighth drive on their own 33-yard line. Maxwell was 2-of-3 on this drive for 34 yards as the Spartans moved the ball to Boise State’s 25-yard line. Senior kicker Dan Conroy missed the 43-yard field goal wide left. Michigan State’s ninth possession started at their own 10-yard line. After moving it to their own 40-yard line, Maxwell hooked up with Lippett for a 35-yard catch-and-run before Lippett was hit from behind, which forced him to fumble the ball. Turnover. Killer. But Lippett is getting there. Give him a couple of weeks. MSU’s ninth 10th possession started at their own 20-yard line. Maxwell was 3-of-3 before the quarter ended.
8.) Maxwell threw two incompletions before Sadler punted. It was 3rd-and-15 for the Broncos before Michigan State was flagged for offsides. That penalty didn’t hurt the Spartans, as the next pass by Joe Southwick went incomplete. MSU received the punt and started their 11th drive on their own 44-yard line.
9.) After getting to Boise State’s 40-yard line, the Spartans committed a false start penalty to make it 1st-and-15. Bell buried the Spartans out of the hole, as he caught an 11-yard pass from Maxwell before gaining 5 more on the ground to pick up the first. Bell totaled 30 yards on that drive as Maxwell was 3-of-3 for 38 yards. Bell finished the 9-play, 56-yard drive that took 4:34 off the clock with a 5-yard rushing touchdown. MSU 17 BSU 13.
10.) As Boise State was moving the ball on their final drive, a pass interference penalty by Darqueze Dennard put the Broncos at the 50-yard line. The Spartan defense came up big once again and forced a turnover on downs. Bell and the offense burned the last 6:32 of the game with a 13-play, 52-yard drive. Game over.
FUN FACT FOR THOSE THAT ARE ALREADY BASHING MAXWELL
After his shaky start in the first half completing 11-of-22 while throwing three interceptions, Maxwell was 11-of-16 for 145 yards in the second half with no interceptions. He’s getting there.