Monday, the football experts on Big Ten Network will give their complete analysis of this year’s Michigan State team after attending the program’s practice on Saturday. But thanks to social media, fans have a good idea of both the good and bad from practice.
To be fair, BTN isn’t exactly the most impartial source. The better every Big Ten team is, the better the network looks. But with a little reading between the lines, it’s pretty clear who guys like Tom Dienhart, Dave Revsine and Gerry DiNardo are confident in, and where they have questions.
With cameras and experts on-hand, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Dantonio and company did what they could to hide their blemishes. Saturday’s practice had players in shells – helmet and shoulder pads with shorts – instead of full pads. As Revsine pointed out, that makes it a bit harder to fully analyze a team.
There were a few players that stood out during the practice to the BTN guys. Specifically, both Dienhart and Revsine singled out the running backs group – headlined by LJ Scott – as a huge point of strength for MSU.
One of the better backs in the B1G, LJ Scott. Good group here with London and Holmes pic.twitter.com/nTleNBFMxj— Dave Revsine (@BTNDaveRevsine) August 12, 2017
Besides the running backs, Deinhart was complimentary of the Spartans’ defensive line, both interior and on the edge. There was also some excitement about the young talent at wide receiver.
After that, things got a little more difficult to support. Plenty of pressure was put on Brian Lewerke at quarterback, with Dienhart all but saying the season falls on his shoulders.
The staff has confidence in him, but Lewerke has something to prove as a passer … and a leader. On this day, he made some nice throws, and missed some. This is a spot that Lewerke can grow into. He shows poise in the pocket and is calm. Talking to QB coach Brad Salem, he says Lewerke has improved on his reads and he throws receivers open. And he says he is a bit more athletic than some recent Spartan starting signal-callers, but he isn’t a vocal leader. Lewerke leads by example.
There is also plenty of questions concerning the Spartans young and inexperienced offensive line. While the BTN guys were complimentary, it didn’t come without a strong sense of caution, specifically concerning the right tackle position.
Whether he believes it or not, DiNardo repeatedly compared this year’s squad to the building-block teams Dantonio put on the field early in his tenure.
“This looked like Mark’s team as they were building towards that Alabama quarterfinal game,” DiNardo said. He later reaffirmed his beliefs that this team resembled the pre-playoff Dantonio teams.
BTN Bus Tour #Spartans This team reminds of a lot of the teams prior to the 2015 B1G Championship the way its built and its personality.— Gerry DiNardo (@gerrydinardo) August 12, 2017
Spartans fans will get a chance to see the analysts full comments and interviews with coaches when BTN Live returns on Monday with a special two hour show featuring both MSU and Iowa. The show will start at 5:00 EST.