WEEK 6: Ohio State vs. Michigan State
In the famed ‘Shoe’ of Ohio State, there was enough NFL talent on the field to write a column on each team. Since I’ll be seeing Ohio State later in the season, however, Michigan State will be the focus here.
On offense, I really wanted to watch QB Brian Lewerke go on the road in a very hostile environment and see how well he reacted to all that the Buckeyes would throw at him. I came away impressed despite the outcome of the game, really appreciating his ability to extend plays with his legs and locating secondary targets downfield. While Lewerke’s arm strength is more on the above average side and he doesn’t always throw tight spirals, he has enough arm talent to make tight-window NFL throws, and his athleticism is a real asset that will enable him to compete for a backup roster position. One player who made a couple nice seal blocks for Lewerke is TE Matt Seybert, who’s played both offense and defense for the Spartans in his career. The former Buffalo Bull has a nice combination of size and athleticism along with an ability to run easy as evidenced on his two receptions for 37 yards in the game.
Leading the team in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns was WR Darrell Stewart who plays as a big-slot for the Spartans. Stewart – who isn’t an explosive speed athlete – is an instinctive player who understands the nuances of route running and how to subtly separate from defenders. In addition, he’s a very passionate player who brought great energy to the field in pregame and during the game, and demonstrated outstanding toughness working over the middle and in traffic, including on his second-quarter TD reception.
On defense for Michigan State, the Spartans have three NFL prospects up front in DE Kenny Willekes, DT Mike Panasiuk and NG Raequan Williams – all of whom tallied at least 7 tackles in the game. Willekes owns good size as a 4-3 DE prospect and plays with his hair on fire — numerous times in the game he was in the backfield either pressuring Ohio State QB Justin Fields or wreaking havoc versus the run.
Williams led all three of these guys with his eight tackles, and he is a thickly built man who has some position flexibility to also play as a 3-technique over Guards.
Panasiuk – who I like better as a NG playing as a shade over the center – is a strong player who plays bigger than his listed size of 6-4, 290 would indicate, and he made plays on the opposing side of the line of scrimmage while recording a sack and 3.5 tackles for loss.
At the second level, middle linebacker Joe Bachie made his presence felt very early in the game, recording a sack on the third play of the game and adding a second later in first quarter. Bachie is a very smart and instinctive football player who’s able to play faster than he may time in the 40 in the spring, and his production as a 3-year starter for Michigan State is impressive.