November 12, 2017 5:39:17 PM
So I did that dangerous thing back in October. It was the midway point of the season after the win over BYU and I must've been up in my feelings because I made some declarative statements in a blog post: What We Know and What We Don't halfway through the season.
Since this is a journalistic enterprise, it's time to fact check.
Let's look back at what I said back then now that we know much more about this MSU team.
- WE KNOW: MSU's defensive line is good enough to win every game except Bama.
Welp, that turned out to be wrong. MSU's defensive line is also good enough to beat Bama.
At the time I said this unit will be at its best when it returns to being able to bring Braxton Hoyett off the bench, but Hoyett has been beyond serviceable in this time. Thomas is still picking up to full speed, in my opinion, and this front has been bolstered by seeing so much of Montez Sweat in a three-point stance while some reserves such as Grant Harris and Tre Brown have been of use, too.
I was wrong on this one -- I undersold it.
- WE DON'T KNOW: If MSU has a downfield passing game.
I think we know this answer now: it most certainly does not.
In the beginning, the reason for blame was the wide receiving corps: fans were particularly blaming the recruiting to make it where MSU had shorter receivers in Gabe Myles and Donald Gray as its only veteran options on the perimeter (not including tight ends flexed out there). MSU has turned to those young pass catchers out of necessity thanks to injury and now Nick Fitzgerald is coming so close to hitting them, but not quite there.
- WE KNOW: Aeris Williams is the unquestioned alpha dog running back
Yeah, that's held up. It's held up so much that when Kylin Hill got on the field against Alabama long enough to get four carries, people were wondering is Williams was hurt.
- WE DON'T KNOW: If Fitzgerald has taken that next step as a quarterback.
I would argue he's taken a step, just not quite the step that was hoped for or expected.
I have noticed that Fitzgerald is much more willing to throw into tight windows and more able to complete those passes. He's made a few bad decisions over the course of the season -- what college quarterback doesn't? -- and the aforementioned deep throws aren't at an elite level which, which I think is more along the lines of what MSU fans were hoping for.
Final verdict on this: he's taken the next step, just a smaller step than what was hoped for. Maybe we should have seen this coming when we remember he's a second-year starter not that far removed from his only year of quarterbacking coming in an option system.
- WE KNOW: MSU is not going to be relegated to the unenviable fate of the Independence Bowl or the Birmingham Bowl.
[cracks beer] yep [slurps beer] [smiles]
- WE DON'T KNOW: Why Jace Christmann isn't make any Heisman ballots yet
Still the biggest mystery of the college football season.
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson