Spartans Football Midseason Headlines: Too Early To Look Towards Michigan?
Michigan State is halfway through its 12 game regular season schedule, and they have no tallies in the loss column. Head Coach Mel Tucker has already tripled his win total from his first campaign. He has also introduced many new mantras for his team such as ‘Keep Choppin,’ ‘The Woodshed,’ and ‘The Deep End,’ which is now the unofficial name for the student section at Spartan Stadium. Payton Thorne went from having to win the starting quarterback job in summer practices to thriving in the role. The second year field general has only thrown two interceptions and is one of the Big Tens most efficient passers. It has been over 5 seasons since the Spartans have had a ranking of #10 or lower. Needless to say, the last six weeks have been very entertaining for the boys in green and white.
The Kenneth Walker lll Heisman Campaign is Very Real
Heisman trophy has not been in the realm of possibility for a MSU player in quite some time, if ever. Even for a super optimistic fan, it’s hard to fathom this team having a player even come up in the conversation for the award at the start of the season. It’s even harder to believe that particular player wasn’t even playing in the same conference last year.
Kenneth Walker lll is leading the country in a lot of rushing categories. Total yards rushing and yards after contact are the most notable, and he is top 10 in rushing scores and yards per carry. The junior transfer also has the longest active streak of carries without losing a fumble with 315. His 94 yard touchdown in the win over Rutgers is now the longest in Spartans history. The accolades, records, and jaw-dropping displays of athleticism, are just a few things Walker lll has going for him in his case for college footballs highest honor.
The Michigan State football media team is starting to have his back as well. #K9ForHeisman can now be seen over all social platforms. National media outlets are slowly starting to catch wind of how special Kenneth is. ESPN named him to their midseason college football All American Team this past week. Fans are even going through the trouble of paying for fake Times Square ads to push the campaign.
Regardless of whether or not he wins the award, Walker lll is a big part of Michigan State’s success. Having a running back like him will bode well for cold weather games later this season. Teams will game plan to stop him week in and week out, but in reality, they can only hope to contain him.
Xavier Henderson Will Probably Be Captain Every Game
Seven weeks in a row. MSU Senior safety Xavier Henderson has been named captain of the defense for seven weeks in a row. Is it because his coaches and teammates think he is a bonafide leader? Yes. Is it because he leads his team in tackles and tackles for loss? Another yes. Henderson is also top five in the big ten in tackles and is on pace to pass his career high.
At the college level, being named captain of a football team is a high honor. The fact that the Spartans have a write-in at that role is impressive to say the least. However, Xavier plays on one of the weaker groups of his team. Michigan State’s passing defense is allowing over 300 yards per game this season. The secondary has definitely been revamped for 2021, with Angelo Grose and Darius Snow stepping in bigger roles. But opponents know they can throw against MSU. Western Kentucky’s Bailey Zappe threw for over 400 yards in week 5, and D’Eriq King of Miami also went for over 300 yards. Three out of the remaining six teams on the Spartans schedule are top 4 in the Big Ten when it comes to passing. Even more fuel to the fire; two of those games are on the road, at Ohio State and at Purdue.
Going back to Xavier Henderson however, you shouldn’t be surprised if he is named captain throughout the rest of the season. Also don’t be shocked if he is named to the Big Tens All Defense team and is playing on Sunday’s around this time next year. Henderson is a special player and Michigan State fans should be happy his Senior season has been a successful one for him as an individual and for his squad.
Is it October 30th yet?
Indiana is on the clock this week and then the Spartans have a bye. You can ask everyone in the Michigan State locker room who they have their minds on and they will say the Hoosiers. On the other hand, you can ask a lot of fans who they are thinking about and the majority of them will probably say the Wolverines. The annual game against Michigan always brings a lot of hype, but the possibility that both teams could meet with an undefeated record might give some goosebumps. So to answer the question in the title; no, it is not too early to look forward to this game.
The team that resides in Ann Arbor is off this Saturday, while the boys of East Lansing have their week of rest just before the big dance. A lot of speculation surrounds which bye week is more timely. What time will the game be played at? Which is more lethal: the Michigan State offense or the Michigan defense? One thing is for certain however. Jim Harbaugh’s team will be more than ready to seek revenge for the 27-17 loss they suffered in 2020. Losing on your home turf as a double digit favorite does not leave a good taste in your mouth. In what could be the premiere game of the Big Ten season, it will be up to Mel Tuckers team to make sure they defend ‘The Woodshed.’