East Lansing – After 129 points and more than 1,000 total yards the past two weeks, it's hard to imagine the Michigan State offense being any more prepared for next week's Big Ten opener.
But after Saturday's 56-14 victory over Wyoming at Spartan Stadium, the Spartans are convinced there is plenty more in the tank for when Nebraska comes to town.
"No, not yet," senior wide receiver Tony Lippett said when asked if the offense is where it needs to be. "We need to keep striving, keep executing the game plan and working on the little things we do like catching the ball and maintaining blocks, things of that nature. We've got to continue that but it's not where we need it yet."
Lippett might get some argument after No. 9 Michigan State (3-1) dominated from the outset once again. The Spartans scored touchdowns on their first six possessions and only punted once the entire game.
They piled up 533 total yards and had 338 on the ground, the second straight week they ran for better than 300 yards. Jeremy Langford gained 137 on 16 carries and added a touchdown, making it the first time he has gone over 100 yards in a game this season.
"We came out ready to play and focused," coach Mark Dantonio said. "We had great energy at the start of the game. I am impressed with our start by our offense.
"We have never exploded like this out of the gate with our offense. It is a great advantage when you are not turning over the ball, and when you can run and throw it. We have good receivers, and I have said that all along. We have been impressed with our offensive practices and habits, and we've really said that since spring."
Dantonio impressed by the overall play of his team
Nearly everyone got into the act in this one as offensive coordinator Dave Warner said he wanted to spread the ball around.
Connor Cook threw for 126 yards and a pair of touchdowns – one to tight end Josiah Price and one to Lippett, who had four catches for 76 yards. Wide receiver Keith Mumphery scored twice, once on a 33-yard run and then on a 6-yard pass from Tyler O'Connor. Delton Williams also added a 4-yard touchdown run, and that all came before halftime.
"The first thing you look at is yourself," Wyoming coach Craig Bohl said. "There were certainly times that we didn't have the right assignments, but I also saw a time where they took our 300-pound defensive tackle and he got thrown five yards backward. I think it's a combination of both. Once again, I think Michigan State did some good things and certainly their start was very impressive. I want to credit Michigan State, but we need to own some of that stuff, too."
Langford's 29-yard touchdown run came in the third quarter while O'Connor's 12-yard scramble in the fourth quarter accounted for Michigan State's final score.
"It's a situation where we're trying to spread the ball and we jump up on them pretty well," Warner said. "I try and get the ball to certain guys, so they're getting balls throughout the course of the game. A couple times, we scored quickly. We're not moving the ball around as much as I'd like to, but that's a good problem to have because having a lot of weapons is a good feeling."
It has also created a fairly confident group heading into Big Ten play.
"We've been through a lot and we've worked hard, so why not be confident in ourselves and our abilities?" Lippett said. "We go out there and play fast and play hard."
The Spartans also didn't hold much back in terms of game plans. There were several new looks and the receivers ran the ball often with Mumphery, R.J. Shelton, Macgarrett Kings and Aaron Burbridge all carrying the ball.
It's something Warner thought about throughout the game.
"There are two sides when you've got a game like this," he said. "Do I save some of these things that I have on the game plan and not show them? Or do you show them and make other teams prepare for them? I guess we did a little bit of both today. Those are two different things. I felt coming into today that we were going to have to run our offense, not hold anything back. That's what we ended up doing more than holding things back."
As good as the offense was for Michigan State, the defense had a few lapses that led to scores.
The Spartans gave up a 57-yard touchdown run to Shaun Wick late in the first quarter and with less than two minutes to play in the half, gave up a 52-yard pass from Colby Kirkegaard to Jalen Claiborne. It set up the Cowboys' second touchdown, a 4-yard pass from Kirkegaard to tight end J.D. Krill, who was wide open in the end zone.
The defense did have its share of highlights, however, as it forced three turnovers and sacked Kirkegaard six times. Marcus Rush, Taiwan Jones, Ed Davis, Riley Bullough, Shilique Calhoun and Mylan Hicks all had sacks. It was the first career sack for Hicks.
The Spartans also benefitted from a blocked field goal by Calhoun in second quarter that was returned 26 yards by Darian Hicks.
Michigan State also held Wyoming (3-2) to 98 yards rushing, well below its season average of 147 yards a game.
"We like to be perfect," defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi said. "You get mad because you gave up one last week. Those guys work all week to try and make plays. As coaches, you try to stop every one of them, but you can't be perfect. We never will be, as coaches or as players, perfect. We just keep coaching."