WE ARE JUST SO CLOSE YOU CAN ALMOST TASTE THE CINNAMON WHISKEY.
I am just all sorts of jazzed today. It’s July 31 and that means two things — it’s been a very long time since we last saw a jet sweep and, more importantly, WE ARE 30 DAYS AWAY FROM MSU FOOTBALL COMING BACK.
My mind is as wild as MSU’s 2018 injury reports and always full of college football thoughts. So here are 30 random, somewhat coherent thoughts on the upcoming season.
1. First off, I need to remind myself that 30 days is still actually kind of far away. I keep acting like it will be socially acceptable to be ripping Fireball in a parking lot at 3 p.m. on Friday…but that would be four weeks short and tremendously frowned upon. I need to check myself.
2. With that said…it’s never too early to start thinking about gambling. MSU opened up as a 21.5 point favorite against Tulsa, and I’m probably taking the points here. Death, taxes and a vanilla performance in an opening night win are the three guarantees in life.
3. I actually hope MSU starts the season with a jet sweep on the first play – really show us a sense of humor and give us one final middle finger before playing some real offense the rest of the way.
4. Obviously we want no players hurt. But an offensive player (besides Brian Lewerke) I reeeeeeally hope stays healthy is Jalen Nailor. His presence and speed alone changes the dynamic of the offense and what you can do out there.
5. Please, football gods, let the offensive line be just somewhat healthy this season. I won’t be greedy. I just don’t want another season of a new starting five on the line for 12 straight weeks.
6. The offensive line was actually pretty solid in pass protection later in the season last fall. It was the push in the running game that never got off the ground.
7. As far as running backs go, that’s the position group that has me the most nervous. Connor Heyward is good, but I don’t know if he’s “premier back” good (would be a REAL SHAME if he proved me wrong). La’Darius Jefferson was still raw at the position. If Anthony Williams Jr. can be as advertised in his short time at MSU, that’ll be dandy.
8. Two things I really, really hope for. Plan A: Brian Lewerke is his old self. Plan B: If he isn’t, please put a short leash on him and give Rocky Lombardi a spin. And once you do switch, don’t go back-and-forth and wreck Lombardi’s confidence and bench him after he’s had a fine game. You would almost have to go out of your way to botch the quarterback situation as much as the coaching staff did last year and THAT IS NOT A CHALLENGE IF YOU’RE READING THIS MARK/DAVE/TIM/ANY OTHER COACH.
9. I want the record to show that I’m a huge Cody White and Darrell Stewart fan.
10. With that said, I’m nervous about life without Felton Davis. We saw the impact he could have on games, nearly single-handedly generating the game-winning touchdown at Penn State. And we saw what happens without him after his injury. He was a true game-changer, and that security blanket is now gone.
11. Another season of tight ends consistently dropping the ball in huge spots might actually quite literally kill me.
12. Please let Jalen Nailor return punts and kickoffs. I’m begging anyone that’s willing to listen.
13. Who else is excited for a season of 562 punters (probably) not getting hurt?
14. Freshmen that I’m most excited to see get some run this season on offense: Devontae Dobbs, Anthony Williams Jr., Tre’Von Morgan.
15. A single tear rolls down my cheek as I longingly stare off into the distance daydreaming about another season of Kenny Willekes. What a beautiful sight to be treated to again.
16. My wife looks at me as I have a smirk on my face while looking down at my phone. “What are you smiling for?” she says three times as I finally snap out of my gaze and notice her. “Oh, nothing” I reply as I turn off the Joe Bachie highlight reel and quickly put my phone away.
17. It’s another nice evening at the beach. My wife to my left, the sunset right in front and another smile on my face.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” she says.
“It really is,” I respond.
“It’s crazy how something so power can be so beautiful,” she remarks.
“I know. I can’t believe you’re thinking of Raequan Williams, the Panasuik brothers, Kenny Willekes and Joe Bachie all returning for one more year too,” I say in surprise.
“I’m talking about the sunset you jackass,” she says.
She folds up the towel, takes the beach chair and walks away.
18. Two weeks pass and we’re now sitting down at our anniversary dinner. I’m cutting into a steak and taking my first bite.
“How is it?” she asks.
“It’s tough,” I say, staring down at my plate.
“Oh no, sorry,” she responds.
“It’s tough knowing that Justin Layne will be gone. Josiah Scott is the truth, but Layne is a big hole to fill. I mean, where else are you going to find his length, athleticism and versatility? I just worry about that, don’t you?” I say as I look up. All I see is the candle light, a full wine glass and an empty chair.
19. I think maybe the most fascinating story line on defense for a single player is Kalon Gervin. Does he get some serious run? When he does, will he be solid? Could he go as far as being a game-changer?
20. Speaking of young players, I feel like Xavier Henderson is right on the doormat of stardom. Having Khari Willis as a mentor can’t hurt either.
21. In less popular young player thoughts, I hope we get to see a little bit of Chase Kline this season. I love his tape and think he’ll be another star at Michigan State.
22. Freshmen that I’m most excited to see get some run this season on defense: Julian Barnett, JD Duplain and maybe Luke Fulton (will be hard for him to see the field in a crowded linebacker corps).
23. MSU home games don’t officially count until the Déjà Vu banner flies overhead during tailgating. Little-known NCAA rule there.
24. Beers, ranked: 1) Tailgate beer, 2) Golf course beer, 3) Bonfire beer, 4) Stadium beer, 5) Shower beer
25. I’ll say it – “Thunderstruck” is a fine entrance song.
26. Time to time I’ll think of what it will take for Mark Dantonio to be fired this season. I’ve landed on 0-12, deliberately burning down Spartan Stadium and having his parking meter run out in front of Holden Hall. That should do the trick.
27. In short, Dantonio has earned his right to be here to the end. And, please, you really think Bill Beekman is going to fire him?
28. I genuinely think this team will make it to a New Year’s Six bowl game. I know how absolutely insane that sounds. I know I’m banking on an offense going from completely lifeless to somewhat good. I firmly believe this defense will continue to be great and the offense will hold up its end of the bargain.
29. According to the #TrapGameIndex that I just thought of seven seconds ago, here are the top three trap games, ranked: 3. Tulsa at home 2. Illinois at home, 1. Indiana at home.
30. Those neon jersey are trash and I will not even entertain a discussion on it. That’s FINAL.
31. Alright one more – GO GREEEEEEEEEEEN.