Questions from the Other Side: Michigan State football beat reporter Souichi Terada

Jack Warrick

For this weekly column, the Minnesota Daily interviews somebody knowledgeable on the Gophers next opponent: Michigan State. This week, we interviewed the State News’ senior football beat reporter Souichi Terada. This is his fifth semester at the State News, and his first year covering Michigan State football.

How did Michigan State pull off the upset win in the Big House over No. 7 ranked in-state rival Michigan last week?

One big thing was turnovers, Michigan State has struggled a lot with turnovers. They had those three first-half turnovers against Notre Dame that ended up being a 20 point blowout loss for them. But against Michigan, they had five turnovers. They forced two fumbles in the first half, picked off Michigan’s quarterback three different times.

Was there anything you saw in previous Michigan State games that made you think they could win a big game like that one?

I think one thing Michigan State has shown earlier this year was that they soundly beat the opponents that they were supposed to beat, which doesn’t sound like much, but in college football, when you’re playing with all these college kids, that’s sometimes hard to say. In 2016 last year, when MSU went 3-9, they had trouble putting games away… [This year], they soundly beat a Bowling Green team that was much worse than them, Western Michigan as well, and they did have that blowout loss against Notre Dame, but a lot of fans, a lot of the optimists were just like, “Oh, well if it weren’t for those dumb turnovers this would have been a much closer game.”

How does that win over Michigan change how people view Michigan State football, and maybe how they view themselves?

One thing I would say is that when Michigan State was down big at halftime against Notre Dame, the student section was like, “we’re going to leave now.” That’s how I viewed the student section because they don’t want to watch bad football, they don’t want to see a repeat of 3-9, but now those fair weather fans, those bandwagon fans, will be back at Spartan Stadium I believe… There’s going to be a lot more respect for MSU in the sense that they’re a pretty good team, and they’re showing that beating Michigan on the road. And I mean, this was a big win. They were double-digit underdogs to Michigan and this was a big-time rivalry game.

What was it that Notre Dame did to put up those numbers on Michigan State and hold their offense to 18 points?

[MSU] was getting yards, but they just weren’t scoring the ball… Off the top of my head, [MSU] had a fumble on the one-yard line at second and one on the goal line, so that was points off the board, and [Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke] threw a pick-six on MSU’s first offensive possession of the game — those are 14 points right off the bat… Yes, they did put up those stats, but Notre Dame was kind of content to bleed out the clock and play a little bit more conservatively once they got that big lead.

Does Michigan State deserve to be ranked at No. 21 going into the Minnesota game?

That’s right about where I personally expected them to be, [from] covering the team. I think that this team has shown some things. But let’s reel it back in, I mean we don’t know much about MSU in terms of how they are going to bounce back from such a big win, such a high… This is Michigan. Michigan State, Michigan State fans, everybody in East Lansing, they love to beat Michigan. So we’ll see how they respond, especially against a Minnesota team on the road at night against a Big Ten West [opponent]. It’s going to be an interesting night… That should be right about where MSU is ranked, I mean beating Michigan on the road is a very big feat.

Who is Michigan State’s most impactful player on offense?

On offense, there’s no question about it — that’s redshirt sophomore quarterback Brian Lewerke. Lewerke has shown the tendency to be a dual threat quarterback. He runs like a 4.6 40. He’s had a couple big runs. He had like a 50-some yard run on a QB sneak on a fourth and one against Notre Dame. He has speed and he’s not really afraid to run the ball in the sense that he will scramble if he sees an opening. That’s how MSU scored their first touchdown against Michigan on Saturday. In a lot of ways, this MSU offense will go wherever Brian Lewerke will go.

How about on defense? Who is the player to watch on the other side of the ball?

This is going to be a little stereotypical, but I’m going with the quarterback and the mike linebacker. But it will be Joe Bachie for MSU. Bachie is only a true sophomore ,but he’s starting and he’s been playing extremely well. I think he was named Big Ten defensive player of the week this week. Him and David Dowell kind of balled out. But Bachie has been there time and time again this season for MSU on defense… Bachie kind of came out of nowhere in the spring, but he’s been playing really well as a starter.

Most under-the-radar player?

I’m going to go with Madre London… The headlines will have Gerald Holmes because he’s a redshirt senior, and LJ Scott because it’s rumored that he might leave for the NFL, but Madre London has slowly kind of been that third guy. He’s been getting some touches, not as many as maybe he’d hope to have but he’s still a very talented runner.

What does Minnesota have to do to beat this team?

I think what Minnesota has to do is let MSU make their mistakes. There were a ton of mistakes earlier in the year, even in the last game. There were some dumb, unsportsmanlike penalties, and that might be attributed to being an in-state, gritty, tough game… For Minnesota to win this game they have to force turnovers from such a young team, and Notre Dame kind of did that.

Score Prediction?

Michigan State 20, Minnesota 14

Best storyline of the Michigan State team this year?

One general storyline is to see how MSU bounces back from [last season]. Let’s be honest here: the Spartans were a national embarrassment last year. There’s no sugar coating it, I mean when you go from Big Ten champions and college football playoff contenders to 3-9, and getting absolutely embarrassed by Michigan at home, the nation’s going to be like, “what the hell happened to the Spartans?”

Michigan State season record prediction?

8-4