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Position Grades: Michigan State

One last time before whatever bowl game awaits!

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Penn State Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Well, it was more aggravating than we all would’ve preferred, but a dub’s a dub, am I right? I know we’ll all be doing this one more time for the bowl game, but I just want to thank you all once again for reading and providing feedback in the comments, whether you agreed with the grades or not. For the final time in the 2022 regular season, here goes something...

Quarterback: A

Say what you will about Sean Clifford, but going 19-of-24 passing for four touchdowns and completing your final 13 passes in a row speaks for itself. It was quite fitting that his final touchdown pass thrown in Beaver Stadium was one that iced the game with four minutes to go.

Running Back: B+

Kaytron Allen and Nick Singleton were solid in the first half, but the second half saw Michigan State zero in on stopping PSU’s ground game. Singleton ended up performing the most clutch play of the game though, catching a screen pass on 4th and 1 from the Sparty 12 and taking it to the house to put the Lions back up by two touchdowns with less than five minutes to play in the game and blunt Sparty’s momentum.

Wide Receiver: B+

KeAndre Lambert-Smith had the game we all thought he was capable of having, stepping up in Parker Washington’s absence to lead the team in receiving by catching five balls for 83 yards, including the 35-yard TD bomb from Cliff to ice the game late. KLS even showcased his own passing skills, tossing a TD to Theo Johnson on a little trickeration. Mitchell Tinsley and Harrison Wallace also caught passes for the Lions.

Tight End: A

The three-headed monster at tight end was in full effect, as Theo Johnson, Tyler Warren, and Brenton Strange all had multiple catches. Theo had a pair of TD catches while Warren also dove for a TD in the back of the end zone.

Offensive Line: A-

Overall, it was a good day for the O-line, as they generally gave Sean Clifford enough time to find his receivers and opened some holes for Allen and Singleton to run through. Hard to complain much about this group.

Defensive Line: A-

Sparty was unable to get much going on the ground, thanks to the front seven. Adisa Isaac got himself a sack, while PJ Mustipher led the D-line with five tackles in his final game in Beaver Stadium. Nick Tarburton also did a good job with getting pressure on Sparty QB Payton Thorne and knocked down a pair of passes in the process, in his final outing at the Beav.

Linebacker: A

What more can I say about Abdul Carter at this point? Seven tackles (including three for a loss) and two sacks sound awesome, but they’re even more awesome to watch in person as he uses his ridiculous closing speed to hone in on the ball carrier. It’s unfortunate he wasn’t able to corral that pick-six midway in the third quarter, as it likely would’ve ended the game much sooner. Tyler Elsdon also has improved leaps and bounds from the beginning of the season, as he got pressure on Thorne and was sound in his tackling. Curtis Jacobs also got a couple QB hurries, as well.

Secondary: A-

Yes, Sparty did come up with some ridiculous 3rd and long passing conversions in the second half that led to TD drives (in fairness, some of them were just amazing catches by Sparty’s receivers) but overall the secondary had another fine outing. Kalen King had the game-sealing interception with PSU leading 28-16 late, which put a bow on his five pass breakups and four total tackles (including one for a loss). Ji’Ayir Brown led the unit in tackling with seven of them, and had a QB hurry.

Special Teams: B-

Barney Amor averaged 50 yards on his four punts while Brown jarred the ball loose and Tyler Warren recovered a fumble on a punt return that led to a PSU TD. However, Jake Pinegar’s pair of missed easy field goals were inexcusable and should’ve given PSU with at least 20-3 lead at the half and perhaps a more comfortable overall second half, which unfortunately brings this grade down.