18 August 2011

Spartan Football: An Update from Training Camp/Practice

With the season approaching quickly for the MSU Spartan football team, much of the hopes and aspiration from Spartan faithful are resting on the off-season preparation and what is happening currently in pre-season practices. As a die-hard State fan myself, I have read much literature on the team and individual players and the progress they are making in getting themselves ready for the start of the 2011 season. These are the updates that I have gathered thus far:

Offensive Line: With 3 different spots opened up in the O-line, you have to expect an immense amount of competition for those open spots...and that is exactly what is going on. However, recently there has been some separation between guys competing to work side by side with anchor Joel Foreman on the line. Junior right guard Chris McDonald has been one of those players particularly standing out in this pre-season. Offensive coordinator Dan Roushar stated in reference to McDonald's play, "He's playing as well as we've seen him play". In addition, defensive lineman Dan France has converted to offensive line during this off-season and is starting to rise above the competition for starting left tackle. Redshirt freshman Travis Jackson is expected to earn the starting spot at center.

Wide receivers/tight ends: With B.J. Cunningham, Keshawn Martin, and Keith Nichol all returning at the receiver slots, it's going to make the Spartan air-attack a force to be reckoned with. Not to mention, the weapons available at tight end. Offensive coordinator Dan Roushar stated the competition at the tight end position is a "good problem" and that "We have three starters at that position right now, in Celek, Linthicum, and Dion".

Linebackers: An overall younger defense in comparison to the 2010 Spartan team, the linebackers follow similar suit. Replacing a tandem such as Greg Jones/Eric Gordon along with Eric Misch is huge assignment; however, there is a lot of potential when looking at this position battle. Sophomore Max Bullough is projected to start along with junior Chris Norman; however, Norman has been held out of practice due to an undisclosed upper body injury. Those also in the mix for starting positions are Steve Gardiner, TyQuan Hammock, and Denicos Allen. True freshman linebacker Taiwan Jones has also been making noise in pre-season camp and could see some time this season.

Running backs: Edwin Baker, LeVeon Bell, Larry Caper--what more needs to be said.

Secondary: Experienced, healthy, athleticism, and depth are the top factors working for the Spartans when looking at the secondary. Johnny Adams, Trenton Robinson, Darqueze Dennard, and Isaiah Lewis are all expected to see a significant amount of time on the field and lead the Spartan defense to match or better its 17 interceptions from last season. Redshirt freshman cornerback/wide receiver Tony Lippett is feeling more comfortable and also building his resume for a starting position on the defensive side of the ball. Lippett recently picked off a pass from Maxwell and practice and returned it for a pick-six. According to coaches, Lippett could be the next star in the making for the Spartan football team and could make a difference both on the defense and offensive side of the ball this season.

Offensive coordinator Dan Roushar: Don Treadwell moved on to a head coaching position at Miami and Dan Roushar is taking reigns as the new offensive coordinator. Not much will change offensively, MSU will still be MSU. Roushar stated that he wants the Spartans to be a "quarterback friendly" offense. "What we want to do is get a high completion percentage. Move the football on early downs and keep the chains short", Roushar stated.

For those Spartan faithful, we have much potential for another amazing season. Progress is being made in the off-season and we find ourselves only 15 days until opening night. Go Green!


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