Few men have done more, and been a part of a larger number of big moments in Michigan State football history than Jim Miller. A former State quarterback, he spent 11 years in the NFL, and is now back in East Lansing as a color commentator for Spartans football.
In this edition of Five Burning Questions, Miller talks about the wild win over Wisconsin, what is needed to beat Nebraska, and much more.
1. How was it being in Spartan Stadium defeating the Badgers in such a thrilling manner?
It was one of the biggest wins in Michigan State history if not all of college when you discuss greatest last plays. Doug Flutie in Miami, Kordell Stewart’s last throw in the big house, or the Stanford vs Cal play where the band runs on the field. Spartan Stadium was electric prior to the game and you just felt something special was going to happen.
2. How has Michigan State been able to go through Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin unscathed.
They are a much more mature team even though players on the field are young, a lot of them have played and are expected to play to create competition. They are now well schooled schematically in what Dantonio expects offensively and defensively. They are well coached and Dantonio’s staff has pounded the pavement very hard to upgrade the talent since John L. Smith’s departure. They are grounded and focused knowing they have to prove themselves everyweek. They know facing Nebraska is no walk in the park and do not expect any Cornhusker’s to bow down to them just because MSU beat Wisconsin. They understand they have to earn it and it will be difficult.
3. Defensively Michigan State has been lights out. Who have been the bright spots on the defensive side of the ball for Michigan State?
Max Bullough (MLB) has taken over for two time All-American Greg Jones, who is now a NY Giant. He has done a really nice job quarterbacking the Spartan Defense. I also think the two young Defensive Ends have been tremendous. Both William Gholston and Marcus Rush have been improving by leaps and bounds every week. It’s taken three years to finally get the pass rush Michigan State fans have dreamed about from the good ole days. Michigan State has always prided itself on defense even back when I played. This is the best defense Michigan State has fielded in quite some time. They are all young, hungry, and unselfish.
4. How has Kirk Cousins matured as a quarterback, where does he need to improve, and do you see him as a guy who can make the next step into the league?
Kirk Cousins will definitely get an opportunity to play pro. He is the winningest QB is Spartan history. Numerous scouts and GM’s have asked me about him. His intangibles are off the charts like: character, leadership, and toughness. All quarterbacks can improve their footwork and I think Kirk can as well. I would also like to see him think the game better situationaly. Like the interception he threw in the Red Zone vs Notre Dame. It was first down and Notre Dame was screwed up on how to line up. The play was a disaster and Kirk threw an interception when he should of just thrown the ball away. Situationally, you have 3 more downs to score so don’t force it, just live to play another down. Percentages are in your favor if you play the risk/reward game situationaly. I think Kirk continues to get better in this area. You never stop learning, I played 12 years in the Pros and you can always get better at your craft.
5. What does Michigan State have to do to defeat Nebraska Saturday?
In order to beat Nebraska, MSU has to tap their physical resevoir yet again. There is no way to beat Nebraska unless you get physical. MSU understands Nebraska is a hard nosed football team guided by Bo Pelini. MSU knows they also have no shot of winning unless they stop running back Rex Burkhead who is having and outstanding season. Offensively, MSU just has to do what they do mix run, playaction, and be effective on 3rd down. I think you will be surprised how many talented players MSU has offensively.