Expect Michigan State to make a powerful statement this year on the offensive side of the ball. Coach Mark Dantonio enters the 2016 season with seven returning starters and 90 career starts on the offensive line. With Connor Cook being the on field general for this Spartan's offense, he will be protected by arguably the most experienced O-line this year in the Big Ten. Leading the group of protectors will be senior All-American center Jack Allen and on the rise junior left tackle Jack Conklin.
Jack Allen has been a huge part of the success for the Spartan's offense. Since 2013, Allen has had the opportunity to create holes for Steelers tailback Le'Veon Bell and the Chicago Bears' rookie tailback Jeremy Langford. Allen has started 35 games for the Spartans and showed promise throughout his career. His energy, leadership, and determination have given the Spartan's life and new records in the books. Out of 36 games Allen has started in 35 since his redshirt freshman year, which he received FWAA Freshman All-American honors. Allen has also been named to the Rimington Award watch list, which recognizes the best collegiate offensive center.
Conklin has taken a more interesting path since he has stepped on State's campus. Conklin joined the Spartans as a walk on freshman and has worked his way up to a potential first-round draft pick. The 6'6 325lb junior out of Plainwell, Michigan has started 23 consecutive games at the left tackle position. Conklin has only given up 2 ½ sacks in his career after playing nearly 960 snaps last season. Defensive coordinators have had to create game plans against the second team All Big-Ten giant, usually lining up their best pass rusher away from Conklin. Conklin's non-stop motor and strength gives the Spartans a huge advantage over opponents trying to apply pressure on Connor Cook's blind side. Conklin led the team last year as a sophomore with 104.5 knockdowns and played team-high 868 snaps during the regular season. Expect Conklin to produce even better numbers and continue to help Allen lead a physical offense.
The Spartans have shattered records on offense since the unit has been together, averaging 43 points per game, 70 touchdowns, and 3,057 rushing yards last season. Despite Michigan State ranking as 20th in the nation at starting experience on the offensive line, they still outplay many with Allen and Conklin's leadership. These two leading a seven to nine man rotation on the line, motivates others to step up and do their job while dismantling defenses.