Michigan State Spartans fans — we’ve made it! Football season is officially here, as MSU began its fall camp practices today.
While we still have to wait another 29 days before we actually get to watch a game, the Spartans will use this time to hone their craft, scrimmage each other and prepare for the long 2019 season.
Michigan State looks to bounce-back from its mediocre 2018 season, which ended with a 7-6 record and a one-point bowl loss to the Oregon Ducks. The main narrative of last season is easy to remember: an elite defense wasted away by an absolutely anemic offense.
Injuries were a big part of the struggle in 2018 as well, and the team is expected to be close to fully healthy heading into training camp. Of course, all eyes will be on Brian Lewerke’s shoulder and the play of the offensive line. Lewerke and various players along the offensive line missed time last season, or played hurt and struggled.
The other big storyline to watch throughout fall camp is to see how the coaching staff shakeup works out. How will the offense progress under new coordinator Brad Salem? Will the offensive line generate more push in the running game with Jim Bollman leading the group? Will Lewerke flourish with Dave Warner focusing exclusively on the quarterback position? How will the wide receivers do with Don Treadwell as the position coach instead of Terrence Samuel?
Another thing to keep an eye on is how the running back rotation shakes out with Connor Heyward, La’Darius Jefferson, Elijah Collins and true freshman Anthony Williams, Jr. all expected to see playing time. Speaking of freshmen, it will be interesting to see if any members of the 2019 class, outside of Williams, stand out at camp and earn immediate playing time.
There are many questions regarding Mark Dantonio’s squad. The majority of those will be focused on the offense until it proves otherwise. This is a unit that returns many of the same starters that produced the 116th-ranked total offense, 114th rushing attack and 77th passing offense. This has to improve. Outside of losing Justin Layne, Khari Willis and Andew Dowell, there is not much to worry about on a defense that is once again expected to be one of the nation’s best.
We’ll get our first glimpse of this team in action under the lights on Aug. 30. For now, it’s time for the Spartan Dawgs to go to work and prepare for the challenges the coming months will provide.