[Bump. Football! --LVS.]
Some spring football links from the usual places.
Rexrode points out that Arthur Ray Jr. is doing drills in shorts this spring. Dantonio says he's going to try to play next spring. Wow. As Rexrode says, even if he never plays, that's awesome. Hey Joe also updates on the offensive line's apparent starters as of now.
In practice Thursday, the OL ones were: LT D.J. Young, LG Joel Foreman, C John Stipek, RG Chris McDonald, RT Jared McGaha. The twos were: LT John Deyo, LG Ethan Ruhland, C Nate Klatt, RG Antonio Jeremiah, RT J'Michael Deane.
That's an interesting group of twos. Is Antonio Jeremiah (listed at 360 pounds) really going to do something on the offensive line, or is it just a function of the spotty o-line recruiting from late period John L. Smith (Deane and Stipek are the only ones around) and the early bit of the Dantonio era (remember the O-line recruit who left campus after a week or something?) The move of Micajah Reynolds to DT (if it's permanent) would suggest that the coaches feel pretty good about Jeremiah, or maybe bad about their non-Jerel Worthy options at NT?
I remember hearing some enthusing about (R-Soph) Chris McDonald's athleticism, supposedly he ran track when he was a high schooler as part of relay team. J'Michael Deane was talked about last August as the probable starter at RT and then hurt his foot. (His backup status may still be punishment-based) Jared McGaha (R-Junior) was also talked about in the mix at RG and RT last year.
Rexrode also updates on David Barrent, the celebrated recruit from last year, that he's participating in spring practice after having surgery in December.
He also says that Dan Conroy and Kevin Muma are having a battle to replace Brett Swenson. At least right now, post-Swenson is a scary, scary time, for those of us who haven't had Tom Wilkinson and his crew in to remove the 2005 special teams memories. Because he's him, Hondo also anoints Aaron Bates as the best punter in the Big 10 (could be) and incoming freshman Mike Sadler as the second-best (that seems unlikely).
The 3-4 defense gets a quick mention, with Dantonio saying it was to get the best players on the field. That makes a lot of sense to me, not only in terms of Will Gholston but in the available people on the defensive line, with people line Blake Treadwell, Tyler Hoover and Kevin Pickelman who might fit better due to size playing a traditional 3-4 end than a traditional 4-3 tackle or end. But, who knows what the actual prevalence will be. Trying new schemes seems like a fine idea after last year.
In another spot Hondo gives some of his story on last year's defense.
There were some critical points. One head coach, whom the Spartans played this season and I am a close friend with, assessed the Spartans defensive backfield this way to me, "When you watch the film I really don’t think it is coaching. They have their guys in the right spots. You see where guys have good technique and that goes to coaching. What really is troubling from a coach’s perspective is that they don’t play the ball well in the air. That isn’t coaching, that is instinct. Once they upgrade on talent, you can tell the coaching is there."
So, basically, the habitual torching was the fault of the players, especially the departing seniors, not the coaching or scheme. We'd certainly like to think that is true, but I dunno. Removing Otis Wiley and Johnny Adams from 2008 to 2009 was really the only change. Was Wiley really that good? He was good and he did make a lot of plays, but that seems too much. The alternative explanation that it was MSU's scheme has the problem that they ran the same stuff in 2008 and 2007 and did quite a bit better. 2008 didn't feature as good of a pass rush as 2007, either.
The Freep gives us a longer article about new QB commit Connor Cook, which includes this explanation (or apologia) on why he only had a scholarship offer from MSU (Edit - also had an offer from Miami of Ohio - Pete).
They also had a ranking of the best players in the state at each position. MSU commit Taiwan Jones is judged the best safety prospect and Lawrence Thomas is judged the best overall. So, we should win everything.