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Your Comprehensive Guide to Michigan State's Offensive Line Configurations

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Joe analyzes literally all of the options

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

The MSU depth chart was released today, as usual. And much like last week, there seem to be an absurd number of ways that the Spartans could line up for their first offensive snap on Saturday. So many that you have to use real, actual math to figure it out. Here's the snippet of the depth chart:

Gross, right?

Well don't fear, I'm here to sort it out for you. There are twelve possible ways the Spartans could line up. I've got a few assumptions to simplify, though:

1) Donovan Clark and Brian Allen will be playing - these two guys have been starters all year and to my knowledge are not injured. So, barring further AMSUOLHG action, they'll be playing. The depth chart sort suggests one or both of them might not be playing depending on who is healthy, but I'm presuming that's just to allow flexibility. Under this assumption, the following possible configurations are eliminated:

Jack Conklin - David Beedle - Jack Allen - Benny McGowan - Donovan Clark

Jack Conklin - David Beedle - Jack Allen - Benny McGowan - Kodi Kieler

Jack Conklin - David Beedle - Jack Allen - Donovan Clark - Kodi Kieler

Jack Conklin - Brian Allen - Jack Allen - Benny McGowan - Kodi Kieler

Jack Conklin - David Beedle - Brian Allen - Benny McGowan - Kodi Kieler

Kodi Kieler - David Beedle - Jack Allen - Benny McGowan - Donovan Clark

Phew, that's half.

2) There are potential configurations not listed on the depth chart - well, goddamnit. But we know this is true; last week the starters came out with Kodi Kieler at left tackle and that wasn't a listed option. There are two potential scenarios in which this could be the case. I'll explain in a moment.

3) One of Jack Conklin, Kodi Kieler, or Jack Allen will be playing - all potential depth chart options required one of the three. If they're all too injured to go, there will be a doomsday scenario of, I'm guessing:

Clark-Beedle-Allen-McGowan-Machado

Anyways, the options seem entirely based around the health of Conklin, Jack Allen and Kieler. The following Venn Diagram will tell you what the likely arrangement of offensive linemen will look like, given the health of those three:

You'll notice that there's one other arrangement listed here that we've seen this year but wasn't allowed by the depth chart, which is Jack Allen at left tackle. I assume that'll happen if both Conklin and Kieler can't go.

If I had to guess, I'd guess that Conklin and Kieler will play while Allen won't; Conklin was available for emergencies last week and Kieler was in on the last touchdown drive against Rutgers. Allen is less likely, and there were rumors about his injury being long term. Here's the list of possibilities in order of likelihood, with my thoughts in italics:

Jack Conklin - David Beedle - Brian Allen - Donovan Clark - Kodi Kieler [Not bad!]


Jack Conklin - Brian Allen - Jack Allen - Donovan Clark - Kodi Kieler [Original starters!]

Kodi Kieler - David Beedle - Brian Allen- Benny McGowan - Donovan Clark [Not awesome]

Jack Conklin - David Beedle - Brian Allen - Benny McGowan - Donovan Clark [Better with Conklin at LT]

Kodi Kieler - Brian Allen - Jack Allen - Benny McGowan - Donovan Clark [Rutgers configuration]

Jack Conklin - Brian Allen - Jack Allen - Benny McGowan - Donovan Clark [Second best to original starters]

Jack Allen - David Beedle - Brian Allen - Benny McGowan - Donovan Clark [Second worst]

Donovan Clark - David Beedle - Brian Allen - Benny McGowan - Miguel Machado [Doomsday]

Jack Conklin - Donovan Clark - Brian Allen - Benny McGowan - Kodi Kieler [Wildcard. Not suggested by depth chart, but Clark has flexibility and I think the staff prefers McGowan to Beedle]