The time has come again for another Q&A and this week Chris Vannini has been happy to help out from SB Nation's The Only Colors. My responses to his questions were posted last night, but here are his repsonses:
T-Mill: Much has been made of Michigan State's offensive struggles, but they dropped 42 on Indiana. Have they figured that out or was it just Indiana's awful defense?
Chris: It certainly appears they have figured out this offense thing. Now, this doesn't mean they're high-powered or anything, but they finally know what they're doing, and they didn't after two games. In the last four games, even the loss to Notre Dame, there were a lot of positives, and those manifested against Iowa and Indiana. MSU has a solid offense line, the rushing game is alright, and passing game has been good enough.
With this defense, MSU only needs a competent offense that is good enough. They didn't a year ago, and they went 6-6. They appear to have enough pieces this year for people to feel optimistic.
T-Mill: Should I continue cowering in fear about Shilique Calhoun, who has more touchdowns than any individual Purdue player?
Chris: Well, he hasn't scored since those early games, when he had two fumble recoveries for touchdowns and a pick-six. He's the one consistent pass-rusher on the line, with 5.5 TFLs, 3.0 sacks and 13 QB hurries. I don't know if there's any one player you should be scared of more than just the entire defense as a whole. With MSU's blitzing, the linebackers get a lot of the "scary" stats. But if MSU is getting pressure with just four, it's Calhoun coming off the edge.
T-Mill: The Michigan State defense is rated at one of the best in the country while Purdue's offense is one of the worst. is there hope that Purdue avoids a shutout and gains more than 100 yards?
Chris: I'd be surprised at a shutout, simply because MSU's defense is always prone to giving up a big play or two, and a turnover in a bad place can always lead to points. But I do expect it to be ugly. It usually is against most offenses, but there's obviously not a lot to like about Purdue's right now, obviously. I might venture to say this could be the toughest defense Etling will face in his entire career. Better to get it out of the way early and learn from it?
T-Mill: Has Mark Dantonio finally settled on a quarterback?
Chris: He has, Connor Cook got the start against Youngstown State and hasn't looked back. Well, save for the coaches inexplicably putting in Andrew Maxwell for the final drive against Notre Dame. Cook has shown more poise and confidence as things have gone along. Is it success because of confidence or the other way around? Like I said above, MSU's offense only needs to be competent, and the dual-threat Cook has provided more than that in the past four games. He's only a redshirt sophomore, too, so he's been learning on the job, and the offensive future appears to be a lot brighter than it did after Week 1.
T-Mill: Since we know MSU is rightfully a big favorite, how about some basketball. Who wins a Travis Carroll vs. Brendan Dawson no-holds-barred cage match?
Chris: Football season has been that rough that we're turning to basketball, eh? If no holds are barred, then Carroll certainly will attack Dawson's knee, as he should. I think Dawson has the speed advantage, but Carroll looks like he can take few punches (insert joke about him already taking one! hur dur). It all depends on how Dawson looks with a full offseason under his belt. Reports say Dawson has his explosiveness back, so I'd go with Dawson, if that's the case, but it'd be a good match of different styles.