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80 days to football: Let's talk about penalties




Every day from 99 days out (May 25) until kickoff, I'll put up a post telling you how many days until kickoff and breaking down something about the upcoming season related to that number.  


Today, since we are 80 days away from kickoff, we take a look at: MSU committed 80 penalties last year. Let's break down those penalties, how that ranks, how MSU can get better and will it get better in 2018? 




So I combed through the play-by-play data (while in the press box at Vanderbilt for the Nashville Super Regional) to tally each penalty. It seems likely that I missed one or two and there are a few that the play-by-play makes it impossible to determine without going back to watch the game again, but as you'll see below we have a pretty good handle on the penalties from last season: 


- 19 false starts 


- 12 holding  


- 11 personal fouls that are most likely a late hit or after-the-play confrontations 


- 10 pass interference 


- 8 offside 


- 4 delay of games (if memory serves, two against Alabama) 


- 4 unsportsmanlike conduct 


- 2 illegal block (I'm guessing block in the back) 


- 2 sideline interference 


- 2 targeting 


- 1 roughing the passer 


- 1 illegal substitution (12 men on the field) 


- 1 illegal touching 


- 1 illegal shift 


Racking up 80 penalties in a season ranked tied for 77th in the nation, 10th in the SEC. It's easy to see that isn't great on the surface but it's especially clear when you see the teams also in that tie: Northern Illinois, Utah State and East Carolina, all of them with differing degrees of disappointing seasons in 2017, so MSU getting out of a 80-penalty season with what it got is pretty good. 


The case for improvement in 2018 is pretty obvious: those false starts. Most of those were a product of throwing two freshmen into the fire on the road against Georgia and Auburn, with that Auburn game producing enough false starts to last a lifetime. Cut that down and you're already far better off. I could see holding boosting up a little bit, though, just because the offense will go deep more and offensive linemen might be forced into hold-for-survival situations more often. 


Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson 




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