Oregon-MSU grades: Vernon Adams struggles
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from Saturday’s Oregon-Michigan State game. It was the first contest between top-10 teams of the season, and it did not disappoint:
–Rather unsurprisingly, Oregon QB Vernon Adams Jr. (-2.5) found life tougher against Michigan State than he had the previous week against his former team. The Spartans certainly made life uncomfortable for Adams, generating some kind of pressure on 47.9 percent of his dropbacks. Even so, there are signs of a healthy chemistry growing between Adams and his receivers. He found WR Byron Marshall in the corner of the end zone to move the Ducks within a field goal of the Spartans, and on the following drive came close to connecting with an open Marshall to take the lead with 1:25 left on the clock.
–After missing the 2014 season, and a rather nondescript return to action last week, wide receiver Bralon Addison (5.1) is finally back. Whether it was returning punts or catching passes, Addison caused problems almost every time he touched the ball in space. He forced four missed tackles on seven receptions, and averaged a terrific 14.9 yards after the catch. Not to ignore his 81-yard punt return touchdown. The Ducks are again loaded at the skill positions, most notably with Addison and WR Charles Nelson (+1.2).
–An exciting NFL prospect, DE DeForest Buckner (6.3) fared well in his matchup with Spartans LT Jack Conklin However, most of that success was one-dimensional. Conklin and the rest of the Spartans line limited Buckner to just one pressure on Cook. However, they struggled to control him in the run game, with Buckner making three stops on his way to a 5.6 run defense grade.
DE DeForest Bucker (+6.3)
WR Bralon Addison (+5.1)
LT Tyrell Crosby (+4.9)
LB Joe Walker (+4.4)
LB Tyson Coleman (+2.3)
Michigan State Spartans:
–This was a signature win for the Spartans, but not quite a signature performance for their quarterback Connor Cook (-0.4), who was out of sync with his receivers. This was on full display on back-to-back plays late in the second quarter, when Cook followed up one pass that should have been picked off by Oregon safety Reggie Daniels (-0.6), with the one that was picked off by corner Ugo Amadi (1.0).
–Cook didn’t have to be at his best, as the Spartans were able to lean on their ground game, with running backs Madre London (-0.2) and L.J. Scott (0.4) both proving difficult to bring down. Redshirt freshman London carried the greater load, averaging 3.83 yards after contact, while true freshman Scott averaged 5.45 yards after contact, helped massively by his 38-yard touchdown run.
–Ultimately for the Spartans, the game was won on defense, and no player made more of an impact than DT Joel Heath (3.0). As a run defender Heath had three stops and an 11.1 run stop percentage. As a pass-rusher he had three pressures and an 8.7 pass rushing productivity score.
OG Donavon Clark (+3.2)
DT Joel Heath (+3.0)
LB Darien Harris (+2.9)
WR Aaron Burbridge (+2.8)
LB Riley Bullough (+2.6)