Behind Enemy Lines: Michigan State

In week four of the season, the Terps are hosting the Michigan State Spartans. After last weeks near upset, the Terps will be looking to build off that momentum and show the conference they are not a tea to be slept on and last week was not a fluke. We talked to Colin Jankowski who is close with the Michigan State team to get to know the Spartans football team some more.

John Gugs: After losing the last two games, what do you want to see the team do differently so they don’t get into a three game losing streak?

Colin Jankowski: I think the biggest thing is getting pressure on Taulia Tagovailoa. He’s obviously a very talented quarterback and can pick apart MSU’s secondary if he’s given time to make decisions. One great thing the defense did well the first two games was get to the quarterback, and that’s something that’s been missing the last two weeks and I think it’s made the secondary look a lot worse than it really is.

JG: Payton Thorne has a touchdown to interception ratio of 7-6. What is the reason you think he is turning it over so often and what do you think should be done to fix it?

CJ: I’m really not sure what to make of Thorne right now. He was so successful last season but just has looked off to start this year. I thought after the Washington game that maybe he was back to his old self, but after some of the mistakes he made against Minnesota I’m not so sure. I think he’s been trying to make a big play rather than the right play in some of those scenarios where he’s thrown interceptions. I’m sure he’ll clean it up, though.

JG: The Terps have a high powered offense the revolved around their passing game. With the Spartans to be known to have a weaker secondary, what should Terps fans expect the Spartans to do to counter the passing attack of the Terps?

CJ: I talked about it a little bit already, but trying to get pressure on Tagovailoa is going to be a big focus for this defense this week. Dialing up blitzes, changing up some looks and rushes, etc. I think if the Spartans are going to win this week, they need to get to the quarterback. The last two weeks of pass rush has been nowhere near where it needs to be if the Spartans want to win games this year.

JG: Jacob Windmon has been a bright spot for the Spartan defense so far. What do you think has led to his success early this season?

CJ: I honestly think his summer working with Brandon Jordan has helped a ton. He was already a great defender at UNLV and logged 6.5 sacks last year, but working with a guy who trains some of the top pass rushers in the NFL clearly helped. He’s been a bit quiet the last two games, so I’m hoping this week he comes back out a little bit.

JG: With all the injuries the team is dealing with, do you expect any players to be able to come back this week and play and are there any big names that normally have a big impact that are expected to be out this week?

CJ: I expect Jayden Reed to play a bit more this week. Coming off his injury from the Akron game, he played a bit in the loss to Minnesota, but with that being a blowout, he was limited in his reps. We still don’t have a timetable for Xavier Henderson’s return, but it certainly will not be this week. Other than Darius Snow who’s for sure out for the season, everyone else should be good to go from what it sounds like.

JG: How do you predict this game to go and why?

CJ: This game could easily get out of hand for the Spartans if the defense and offense come out flat like they have the last two weeks. If the Spartans come out fast and effective, they’ll have a shot, otherwise we’ll see flashbacks of last week. I think it’ll be a close one, but I don’t think the defense will be able to get off the field enough for the Spartans to close it out for a win. I’m gonna give Maryland the edge this week.

The Terps in their red Script uniforms and a newly named stadium will be looking to start the season 4-1 on Saturday against the Spartans. Kickoff is set for 3:30pm and it will be aired on FS1.

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