Mark Dantonio held his weekly press conference on Tuesday, and there were some changes to the depth chart. Since MSU is coming off a bye and there isn't too much to write about yet, I figure this is a good look at the state of the team right now.
-Of note on the depth chart, Tony Lippett and Aaron Burbridge are listed as co-starters at one receiver spot. A message being sent to Burbridge? He has shown the same problems as a year ago, giving up on routes and not running crisply, though that's also a problem with most of these receivers. (Dantonio mentions it below) Still no DeAnthony Arnett, and it sounds like they want to redshirt him.
As long as Kings Jr. is starting, MSU can throw whatever combo of other WRs out there and I won't say a peep til some outperform the others.— Heck Dorland (@HeckAtTOC) October 1, 2013
-On offensive line, Jack Conklin OR Donovan Clark at left tackle and Conklin OR Fou Fonoti at right. Are they still shuffling guys due to injuries? It's usually clear when Fonoti is in the game. Also, Jack Allen OR Travis Jackson at center. Jackson is dealing with an injury. After a solid performance against Notre Dame, not too many complaints about this group.
-Connor Cook the lone starter at QB, so there's no controversy, making the end of the Notre Dame game even more odd. This is the right call. At this point in the year, you have to stick with one guy and let him grow. Andrew Maxwell OR Tyler O'Connor as the backup, though I'd put my money on Maxwell to be No. 2 because of experience.
-Still no Lawrence Thomas. Saw it suggested he take a medical redshirt so he still has three years of eligibility left. I think that would pass. Other than that, defense remains awesome.
Positive tweet: Click here ----> http://t.co/aqg4xOg2Mp. Put your hand over the left side of the screen. Isn't it beautiful?— KJ (@KJatTOC) October 1, 2013
-A number of changes on special teams. Michael Geiger is the kicker, as expected. Macgarrett Kings is both the punt returner and kick returner. Punt return makes sense, given past fumble problems with Andre Sims Jr. and Nick Hill. Still, Kings has a tendency to catch the ball with his hands over his head, which could cause the same problems. I don't see a need for him to take unnecessary hits on kick returns. Nick Hill has been good, though not great, there. I understand the idea of having a linebacker as the other guy back, but I don't know how much of a different it actually makes.
Here are some select quotes from Dantonio.
-On Jamal Lyles
"I just always am trying to look at our football players as much as I can, and what gets them on the field the quickest. He was the fifth defensive end. He'd be a good defensive end. He can play, and he can still go in there and play in a necessity. But at the same time, I felt like we needed an athletic guy, a little bit more of a mismatched guy at the tight end position. I knew he played a lot of different positions in high school. I was impressed with him at that point in high school. I felt like that was the direction we should go with him, much like we did LT the year before. We needed something that was just a little bit different guy at that position just to add to the group collectively."
-On Lawrence Thomas
"Yeah, he is making progress. We'll see where he's at this week, but he is making progress. He's working out. Can he get in pads this week? That will define whether he makes the trip or not. But he's getting closer, so we just have to progress him now."
-On similarities to Iowa
"At the time when Coach Ferentz got there, I believe they're a little down, and he raised them up. Had tremendous success there, I feel, 13 seasons. There are some similarities when you came into the big in 2007 and I looked across and saw Iowa and said that's who we can be. They can play with anybody, anytime, at anyplace, and that's who we can be. I think that's what we tried to emulate somewhat, and I think that's the case.
"Other than Nebraska, we've won away from home at every venue in this conference. There is not one football team that we've not beaten in an away game. So we've proven ourselves in that capacity to want to continue to try to raise the bar. We've set the tone, set the standards for championships, and that's what we're chasing. It goes through Iowa City at this point. That's all we know. We've got to move our football team. We've got to move our rock or our foundation to Iowa City to make it happen."
-On lack of explosive plays (MSU is the only program in the country without an offensive play of 40+ yards)
"We've got to get the explosive plays because that's what leads to those things. Is it scheme? Is it players? It's a combination of everything when you look at things. That is probably the easy answer. But there are certainly opportunities to go deep, but you have to take those opportunities at times. Those opportunities have to be open at times to give the quarterback the read to go there too where the receiver has to get loose on those things.
But there is no question that explosive plays are a factor, and we're trying to create them and work towards them. But I think our players are very capable of being able to make those plays. Again, we're going to find out as we continue to move through this season. But we've obviously got to score more points. I don't think there is any question about that."
-On the receivers
I consider about six receivers as starters. I don't care who plays. Because a guy are runs out to be the starter on game No. 1, doesn't mean he's going to play the most. It's just roll them in, factor them in, give them opportunities to make plays. I have confidence in them that they can make plays I see it over and over in practice. Whether it's Tony or Fowler or Burbridge or Macgarrett Kings or whoever it is, I do think that they have the ability and I think they can factor into us winning football games. But I sort of see them all as starters. They have an opportunity to be in there and make big plays. So any one of them can make one.