A position-by-position look at the 2013 Spartans. Since the quarterbacks are going to draw the most ire, I'm working backward. Next up: wide receivers. Previously: defensive line, linebackers, defensive backs, offensive line, running backs.
No position was more frustrating last season than MSU's wide receivers. Though MSU was replacing the top three guys from 2011, there were very positive reports about the guys around them.
Somehow, the group managed 66 dropped passes on the season, which is a staggering amount. Common sense would say that, with all of them coming back, they can only get better, and that starts with catching the dang ball. Andrew Maxwell's completion percentage could have been around 60 percent if there were just a couple fewer drops each games. Not only do they need to catch better, they must block better, something the 2011 receivers were great at.
MSU has a group of good receivers here, but they need some great ones. Having a corps full of No. 2 or No. 3 guys isn't going to do well.
Here's a look at the expected contributors for 2013.
Aaron Burbridge (SO): A true freshmen who missed the early part of the season with an injury, Burbridge clearly is the most talented receiver on the roster. With a year of the playbook and experience under his belt, Burbridge could have a breakout season. He finished 2012 with 29 catches for 364 yards and two touchdowns.
Bennie Fowler (SR): The lone experienced receiver heading into 2012 had his share of drops, which was discouraging to see from a junior. I remember Blair White hyping up Fowler to me at his pro day in 2009, but Fowler has not broken out yet. He had 41 catches for 524 yards and four touchdowns last season. At 212 pounds, he's on the bigger side for a receiver. Maxwell will be counting on Fowler to have a rebound year in his final campaign.
Keith Mumphrey (JR): The Georgian led MSU with 42 catches for 515 yards and one memorable touchdown last season. At times, it looked like Mumphrey was primed to separate himself as the No. 1 guy, but he couldn't find consistency. MSU likes to also use the speedy receiver on reverses, too.
Tony Lippett (JR): Has played defensive back and receiver during his career. Lippett finshed with 36 catches for 392 yards and one touchdown. He had some bad drops (Boise State), but he also showed the ability to make some really tough catches (Nebraska). If Lippett can be consistent and learn to use his size (6-foot-3), he has a chance to be very good.
Macgarrett Kings Jr. (SO): MSU probably regrets blowing a chance to redshirt him after he finished with four catches for 25 yards, but MSU was desperate to find some receivers who could hold onto the ball. Good upside, but a lot of guys ahead of him on the depth chart. If drops are a problem again for others, he could be called upon more.
DeAnthony Arnett (JR): Someone fans have been clamoring for, the Tennessee transfer had just three catches for 69 yards after many expected him to fight for a starting role. His attitude and unfamiliarity with the offense hurt him last season, and reports indicate he has learned from last year's mistakes, but he's the No. 3 Z receiver on the depth chart, which is quite low.
Andre Sims Jr. (SO): Is listed as the starting punt returning, but Sims had three catches for 23 yards last season.
Monty Madaris (R-FR): Redshirted last year. Could see some mop-up time.