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Three Players That Will Play a Huge Role in Upsetting Ohio State
It seems as though Michigan State will have to play a nearly flawless game in order to beat the Buckeyes. Ohio State scores points, has talent at every position, and is playing in front of their faithful. While the Spartans have to perform their best as a team, they also need to have standout games from their stars. Payton Thorne, Kenneth Walker lll, and Xavier Henderson all know they have to be at their best, but who else can make an impact?
Michigan State’s pass rush has operated via divide and conquer this year. Simeon Barrow, Jeff Pietrowski, and Jacob Slade have all made plays for their defense. However, Jacub Panasiuk is not only the most experienced defensive lineman on this squad, but the most talented as well. Although, the bad news is the fifth year senior has been dormant as of late. Panasiuk has only recorded five tackles in his last three games and hasn’t recorded a sack in that time frame after having at least one in every prior contest.
If Ohio State jumps out to a quick lead in this game, it will most likely be because they are passing the ball at will. Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud has been cooking with fire this season, but the best way to contain any great passer is with a pesky pass rush. Panasiuk may only have five tackles in three career games against OSU, but it is a perfect time to change that narrative.
Defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton should make it a goal to pressure Stroud early and often. He may be in the running for the Heisman Trophy, but he is also just a freshman. By rattling him and throwing off his game in the early going, the Spartans could find themselves with a quick turnover that takes the crowd out of the game. Jacub Panasiuk’s career at Michigan State is winding to a close, which is all the more reason for him to have a couple sacks in what is also probably the biggest game of his tenure.
Jalen Nailor traveling to Columbus still remains a question mark for MSU, which will call for other receivers to step up once again. In the win over Maryland, Montorie Foster scored his first career touchdown, but Tre Mosley also saw considerable action. In fact the sophomore has been having the best stretch of his career in the absence of Nailor. Four catches against the Terrapins and two touchdowns at Purdue two weeks ago, show he may be ready for a larger role in the offense.
Mosley has slotted in as the third wide receiver on the depth chart for the majority of 2021. However, if the Spartans want to keep pace with Ohio State, it wouldn’t hurt if he played like a ‘1.B.’ with Jayden Reed being target ‘1.A.’ Much like Jacub Panasiuk, Mosley doesn’t have much of a track record while playing the Buckeyes, with just two grabs in the latest matchup back in December of 2020. So there is a chance that he may not show up very much on the scouting report. In the limited sample size Michigan State fans have seen, the wide receiver has shown he can play in many styles; the deep ball, crossing routes, or yards after the catch. Should offensive coordinator Jay Johnson be able to find a sneaky way to incorporate him, Tre Mosley could serve as a secret weapon for the Spartans.
Angelo Grose is a player that does not receive enough credit on Michigan States defense. Not only did he successfully transition from corner back to safety, but he took the freshman to sophomore leap all coaches strive for. Grose is a solid tackler that plays bigger than his 5’10” frame. During a three game span against Nebraska, Western Kentucky, and Rutgers, he racked up an impressive 31 tackles. As for his last three game however, he only has eight wrap ups to show for.
Grose has proven to be versatile this season as well. He has seven pass break ups to go along with two forced fumbles. Scottie Hazelton isn’t afraid to send him on the occasional safety blitz either, and he almost never leaves the field.
Where Grose can make a difference at Ohio State is by being a Robin to Xavier Henderson, who in this case is Batman. Henderson of course is Batman, because of the sustained success he has had in his senior campaign. We know he is going to be ready for the Buckeyes, and if Angelo Grose can match his intensity, it would greatly help the Spartans defense. As a result, MSU would be able to roll with two high safeties as usual, and potentially throw off the versatile passing game of the opponent. The key to staying in the game for Michigan State is to play a brand of defense that will hit Ohio State in the mouth, and Grose could very well be a catalyst for that.
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