EAST LANSING – Michigan State football started the new season on the right foot after a strong second half against Central Michigan last week. MSU will look to add another in the win column when they take on Richmond for the very first time. The Spiders finished with a 9-4 record a season ago along with an appearance in the second round of the FCS playoffs. Michigan State has never lost to an FCS opponent, holding a 7-0 record.
Noah Kim had a rough first quarter in the opener, but he brushed it off and really picked it up the rest of the game. Kim completed 8 of 10 passes in the second half, two of which were touchdowns. It was his first career start at quarterback after winning the starting job over Katin Houser.
On Monday, Mel Tucker acknowledged last week’s slow start and is certainly not taking the task of playing Richmond lightly. “Richmond’s a really good team,” Tucker said. “We’re working to improve and prepare like crazy for this game.”
A name Michigan State needs to keep an eye on is Tristan Wheeler, who has been a force to be reckoned with for Richmond. The redshirt senior linebacker notched 17 tackles in the Spiders’ season opener. Wheeler currently leads every level of NCAA football with 383 career tackles.
Running back Nathan Carter will hope to avoid Tristan Wheeler as much as possible and have another solid day rushing for the Spartans. In his first game for MSU, the UConn transfer tallied 113 yards and a rushing touchdown.
Michigan State would like to pick up right where they left off on the defensive side of the ball. The defense put on a show by making critical third down stops all game, holding CMU to a scoreless second half and only allowing 96 total passing yards. Cal Haladay snagged an interception, while linebackers Aaron Brule and Jacoby Windmon recorded crucial sacks. The onslaught of defense propelled Noah Kim and the offense to put the game away in the second half.
Mel Tucker was pleased with the performance of his secondary against CMU, but also saw room for growth and improvement going into the Richmond game. “I thought they played aggressively. I thought they tackled well, they tackled better as the game went on,” he said. “It was a good start for us, we still got a lot of work to do.”
The Spartan defense will need to contain Richmond quarterback Kyle Wickersham who had himself a nice game in week one. The sophomore completed 23 of his 30 passing attempts for 169 yards. Wickersham used his legs to punch in the lone Spider touchdown in their loss to Morgan State.
If MSU can continue its success against FCS foes, they should be sitting at 2-0 for the third straight year. The keys for the green and white will be getting off to a better start offensively and continuing to make big plays on defense.
Michigan State will battle Richmond at 3:30 p.m. in East Lansing on Saturday with the game being broadcast on Big Ten Network.