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Q&A with The Only Colors

September 21, 2012

This week I interrogated Chris Vannini of The Only Colors. Chris actually contacted me for a Q&A over the summer; you can read what I wrote in those happier days before the season actually started, and then ponder how the first three games have changed the outlook when you read what I wrote for him this week.

1. Three games in, your thoughts on Andrew Maxwell?

He’s been about as expected, honestly. Outside of the first half against Boise State, he hasn’t turned the ball over, and his completion percentage on the year is 57 percent, and that’s without much help from his receivers. He seemed to panic a bit last week with his offensive line crumbling before him, but his decision-making has greatly improved since a three-interception first half against Boise State. He’s been able to make the throws, but his receivers too often haven’t been able to make the catch.

2. I didn’t see the game, but based on most of the stats it looks like it should have been reasonably close. WTF happened last Saturday night against Notre Dame?

Well, I touched on some of it in the above question. Notre Dame’s front seven destroyed MSU’s offensive line. Hell, they got consistent pressure rushing just three. MSU’s dropped a touchdown on a deep ball, and wasn’t able to make any big plays, mostly because Maxwell didn’t have the time. Notre Dame only had 300 yards of offense and went 1-for-14 on third down, but two big plays were the difference. One for a touchdown, and another set up a touchdown. Le’Veon Bell was OK, but only had four carries in the second half as MSU passed on almost every down trying to make a comeback. He also hurdled a guy, much cooler than the one against Boise State.

3. Mark Dantonio has brought a level of success in football that Michigan State hasn’t seen for at least 10 years, and possibly far longer depending on what metric you use. Is there any chance that he’ll be a victim of his success, that he’s raising the expectations for the program to a level that he won’t be able to consistently meet? Alternatively, if he continues to do well, are you concerned that, despite his new contract, he’ll eventually want to go elsewhere?

To answer the second question first, Mark Dantonio won’t be leaving Michigan State. The only program I ever thought he’d leave for was Ohio State, but that won’t be happening. MSU finally has a coach who doesn’t plan on going anywhere else, and the school has rewarded him with contracts for him and his assistans, improved facilities and more. As for the first question, I don’t think MSU fans are expecting 11-win seasons, but a division title (and perhaps Big Ten) is expected this season based on the dumpster fire that is the conference. Eventually expectations will die down, but if the Rose Bowl doesn’t happen this year, you have to wonder if it ever will.

4. In my preview, did I get anything glaringly wrong, or miss any important points about the current Michigan State team?

Not really. You actually had some good history in there I didn’t know about. While MSU’s receivers are talented, they haven’t been playing well, as I mentioned above. Nothing really to add that you didn’t already have. Solid work.

5. Prediction?

48-3. MSU wants to get things back in order with the offensive line and the receivers, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the starters in longer than normal as they work things out. Hopefully everyone stays healthy.

*Bonus: Any recommendations for places EMU fans should check out in or around East Lansing, either before tailgating or after the game?

Grand River Avenue is the place to go for bars, restaurants and everything else. Crunchy’s has a great selection of beers and solid burgers. Harrison Roadhouse is another great place. Pokee Sticks at Goomba’s Pizza (formerly Gumby’s) are highly recommended.

I see that The Only Colors also has a visitor’s guide, and from personal experience I can agree with most of the entries on the bars & nightlife page, though I was never a big fan of Crunchy’s.

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