Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

ND Vs - Michigan State Running Back LJ Scott

June 21, 2017
918

Michigan State had a nightmare season last year finishing 3-9. Their off season has been even worse than last fall's on the field product.

They've had numerous suspensions and players kicked off the team. What was once lauded as a program that others should try to duplicate appears to be in shambles. This season's match-up went from what was projected to be a really tough game on the road to what should be a likely win over a depleted roster.

Should is the right word, though, because the players that are still there aren't going to lay down against Notre Dame. Even with their struggles last year, they still kept fighting and almost pulled off upsets against Michigan and Ohio State. They've still got some talented individuals on the roster as well and running back LJ Scott is at the top of that list.

He is big (231 pounds) and can run with power, but also has the kind of speed to gain big chunk yardage on any given play. He isn't all that different from former Spartan Leveon Bell when he was in college. If MSU is going to have a shot at knocking off the Irish, then Scott is going to be a big reason why. A lot of focus for Mike Elko and his staff will go into stopping Scott.

Big man size, small man speed


With most big backs it's about wearing the other team down and then taking over in the fourth quarter. Scott is different in that he can be a workhorse while still having the capability to break away to the house at any time. If he gets space, he could be gone for six.

He only caught ten passes last season, but with some significant losses at wide receiver I would expect that number to jump in 2017. One of those ten receptions came against Ohio State on this screen where he ran for 64 yards and a touchdown.

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Scott was the main reason why Sparty even had a chance against the Buckeyes last fall. He had 236 yards of total offense that day. The rest of his team had 98. This long run led to field goal for them and he scored both touchdowns for MSU as well.

via GIPHY

Guys that big don't typically break long runs like he can. And guys that big don't typically hurdle defenders in the open field either.

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Tackle breaker


Don't get it twisted, though. Scott isn't a football equivalent of a stretch 4 in basketball. He uses his strength to run through tackles and is a tough player to bring down. It took four Michigan defenders to stop him on this play and the fourth barely got him out of bounds.

via GIPHY

He was one of only three backs all season to rush for over 100 yards on Michigan's defense in 2016. Even when there isn't a lot of room, he can make room by carrying defenders with him. He isn't a player that Notre Dame is going to want to tackle one on one. They are going to need to gang tackle him as much as possible.

via GIPHY

It is a long way before I'm going to spend a ton of time breaking down when the Irish play Michigan State, but knowing what I know now about their roster, I would say that the only way they can beat Notre Dame is if Scott carries them on his back like he is carrying those Ohio State defenders.

They have a new quarterback, new wide receivers, and a new tight end, but they have someone with the potential to be one of the best running backs in the nation returning for them. If they stop Scott, I think the Irish can feel pretty good about getting a win in East Lansing this September.
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