Not long after Ohio State had finished its thrashing of Michigan State on Saturday afternoon at Ohio Stadium, Spartans quarterback Brian Lewerke was all for tossing the game film.
Yes, they’d watch it and pinpoint their many mistakes and try their best to learn from them, but in the end, constantly reviewing the tape of a 48-3 loss wasn’t going to do anyone a whole lot of good.
“We’ll watch the film and then toss it out,” Lewerke said. “There’s no need to harp on it, no need to re-watch it tons of times. You forget it and move on to Maryland.”
Coach Mark Dantonio didn’t feel all that differently by Sunday night after he’d already reviewed the entire game, the most one-sided loss in his tenure at Michigan State.
“I’ve watched it once but I do think there is things to learn from it, especially schematically whether you were outflanked or you were out of position, things of that nature,” Dantonio said during his weekly teleconference. “So, I think it needs to be corrected more from a standpoint of what plays or defense was run, not exactly in terms of the time it was run. You need to just look at it and say, ‘Here’s all these formations, how did you adjust?’ Look at those things and draw from it and try and make it a learning experience.
“But I think you’re correct, this is one you want to burn and you don’t want it to be indicative of how you play all the time.”
That’s one thing that can be taken moving forward — the Spartans hadn’t played that poorly in all aspects of the game at any point this season. There were games they had their struggles in certain aspects, but none have been the overall letdown the loss to the Buckeyes was.
The key to most of the issues was the fact Ohio State controlled the game at the line of scrimmage.
Michigan State ran for a season-low 64 yards while it allowed six sacks. On the other side of the ball, Ohio State ran for 335 yards, the most a Dantonio team has allowed at Michigan State.
“They won up front. Usually what we’ve always said here is you’ve got to win up front first,” Dantonio said. “It makes the quarterback’s job easier. It makes the linebackers’ job easier. And you can play around that. We just didn’t win up front. Now, we’re young.
“We’re young up front on both sides of the ball. But you still have to win. You have to win your share.”
It wasn’t all on the offensive and defensive line, though. As Dantonio pointed out after the game and again on Sunday, it was a subpar performance across the board.
But headed into Saturday’s final home game — a 4 p.m. kickoff at Spartan Stadium against Maryland — the Spartans will cling to some of the things that did go well, like the interceptions from David Dowell and Justin Layne as well as the fact he did not believe anyone gave up at any point.
“I don’t think we quit, and I think that’s a positive,” Dantonio said. “It’s very difficult when things are going in this direction to continue to play hard, and I thought we did play hard, we just didn’t play well enough.”
Putting the loss in the rearview mirror is the key now for Michigan State (7-3, 5-2 Big Ten). It no longer controls its destiny in the East Division but there’s still a shot at the title if the Spartans can win their final two and Ohio State loses its last two.
That’s not terribly likely with one of those games against Illinois, but with a chance to win nine games and reach a quality bowl, there’s plenty to play for. That’s especially true for the Spartans, who have one of the youngest teams in the Big Ten.
Dantonio has seen them be resilient before and he’s counting on it again.
“I’ve talked about this many times, every experience you have should benefit you,” Dantonio said. “We’ve always responded. We’ve always looked at things: How do you play after a tough game? How do you play after a great game in a big environment, a game that had this kind of magnitude, this meaning?
“So, we look for reaction. We’ll take the next step, but we’ll look for reaction, see how we play this week.
“But I anticipate our guys will come to play.”
Maryland at Michigan State
Kickoff: 4 Saturday, Spartan Stadium, East Lansing
Records: Maryland 4-6, 2-5 Big Ten; Michigan State 7-3, 5-2