First-half observations: MSU self-destructs, four turnovers, down 28-13

By Matt Schoch
The Detroit News

Well, the Mel Tucker era couldn’t have started much worse for Michigan State.

The short season might be a blessing for MSU fans, as the opener at home against the Big Ten’s doormat has been ugly so far, trailing Rutgers 28-13.

Things started to move in a better direction in the second quarter until the Scarlet Knights closed with a late score, followed by a long Matt Coghlin field goal for MSU.

Before we get to the second half, here are some key takeaways from the first half of play:

No excuse for an MSU start like that

This is the most unusual of seasons, with a late October kickoff and cardboard fans in the Spartan Stadium stands. But these are the circumstances for everyone.

Rutgers also has a new coach as familiar face Greg Schiano has returned.

There is no excuse for a lethargic defense, four turnovers in a half and miscommunication everywhere to start.

Rocky start for Lombardi at quarterback

None of Tucker’s options at quarterback would lead to excitement, but Rocky Lombardi has not yet proven his coach wise.

Lombardi was 14-of-20 passing for 153 yards, settling down after a tough start.

But he did throw a pick to no one, as Tre Avery intercepted a pass while Jalen Nailor continued down the field.

Tucker also made a questionable call for starting running back.

Connor Heyward has again been uninspiring, with 13 yards on five carries.

Elijah Collins was clearly the MSU’s best back last season, but he’s struggled too, netting 0 yards.

Meanwhile, Jordon Simmons got the third crack at things and has looked the best so far with 43 yards on nine carries.

Reed’s roller coaster could preview what’s to come

Wide receiver Jayden Reed is an X-factor, for better or worse. The transfer from Western Michigan has been in on many key plays, both good and bad.

Reed caught a pass on MSU’s first offensive play. He fumbled it away.

Later he redeemed himself with a 50-yard touchdown on fourth-and-1, juking his defender for the first down and showing great speed to outrun the defense.

He then dropped an easy pass in the second quarter by looking at the defender before securing the ball.

And then he fumbled again, losing one near midfield.

Reed could be previewing a rocky season in East Lansing.

Buckle up.

Matt Schoch is a freelance writer.

Michigan State's Jayden Reed, right, scores on a first-quarter, 50-yard touchdown against Rutgers on Saturday at Spartan Stadium.