November 2, 2012

Ground game critical to success in November

EAST LANSING - Injuries on the O-line, tight end, and fullback as well as an inconsistent pass offense have been impediments to the continuity of Michigan State's rushing offense this season.

But Mark Dantonio believes his rush offense needs to play above the hand it has been dealt. Without better run-pass balance, the Spartans will find it difficult to match the success they've had in November under their sixth-year head coach.

"We need to get more production from our running game, there's no question about that," said Dantonio, who is 13-2 in November since 2007. "It's important that we have more balance because the more balance we have, the passing lanes tend to open up."

Michigan State tailback Le'Veon Bell has accumulated extensive mileage in his role as a feature back. The 6-foot-2, 244-pound junior has 65 more carries entering this weekend's game against Nebraska than he had in 14 games sharing carries with Edwin Baker in 2011.

"Right now physically, I'm real good," said Bell following practice on Tuesday. "I came out here and had a great practice today, getting my legs back under me. Of course, you get nicks and bruises here and there. But nothing serious and I am out here practicing and I had a great practice."

Bell has more to give according to Dantonio.

"We've got a big, physical back, who needs to run downhill," Dantonio said. "Pure and simple. Needs to break tackles, run through the smoke sometimes."

Bell takes those words as a challenge.

"As a running back, you always feel that you can run harder," Bell said. "I feel like I have been doing a decent job with what I've been having. But there is always room for improvement. I take those words and use them and just keep running harder. If I get tired, I get a break. But I just want to keep running harder and get better."

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