Outside of quarterback, perhaps the most intriguing positional group to watch on offense for the Michigan State Spartans is at tight end. The Spartans lost Matt Seybert to graduation — who led all MSU tight ends and was third on the team with 284 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
The 2020 group has a lot of talented athletes, but those players will need to step up — Michigan State offensive coordinator Jay Johnson called tight ends “the MVP” of his scheme, after all.
New Michigan State tight ends coach Ted Gilmore took some time to meet with the media today, via Zoom. Gilmore broke down what several of the players at the position have to offer, and hit on a variety of topics.
Gilmore was first asked about perseverance and what it’s been like coaching the athletes through the pandemic.
“We spent a lot of time talking about being present, being where your feet are,” Gilmore said. “I think we all handle good news very well, and believe it or not, I think we all handle bad news because we know what it is. But the uncertainty gets us. And just trying to remind the guys just to stay present. Win today — and that’s all we can truly control is today — and having that mindset in everything we do as far as working the process.”
Gilmore then went on to speak about the tight end room overall. It’s apparent through Gilmore’s comments that a lot of guys are going to need to step up there this season.
Each tight end is a little bit different, and there are unique skillsets in the group, including two former defensive ends, a couple of former fullbacks, and even a punter.
“It’s a room that we’re gonna need every single one of the guys to give us some depth,” Gilmore said. “In this offense, we need those guys to be good because they factor in on every single thing we do — run and pass. I need every single one. If we take four (tight ends) on the road, I’m gonna need all four of them to be ready to play. They do bring certain qualities to the table, but my challenge to them is to become complete players and not just look at yourself as a pass-receiving tight end, but one that can do it all.
“We talk about our groups as the ‘arsenals’ — we gotta be able to do it all. That’s my challenge and that’s my vision for the guys. To this point, I think they are buying into that. Obviously we have our good days (and) our bad days, but I think we’re moving in the right direction.”
More notes and quotes:
On senior tight end Matt Dotson’s status entering the season — Dotson is coming off of an Achilles injury in 2019:
Gilmore says team is counting on Matt Dotson, who is coming off of an Achilles injury.— Ryan O'Bleness (@ryanobleness) October 13, 2020
Says he’s working hard and been out there every single day.
“We’re counting on him,” Gilmore said about Dotson. “Obviously he’s working hard and getting himself back into game shape. If you ask Matt, he feels it’s a work in progress, but he’s working hard, he’s competing and he’s out there every single day.”
On what drew Gilmore to Mel Tucker’s coaching staff:
Gilmore on Mel Tucker:— Ryan O'Bleness (@ryanobleness) October 13, 2020
“I wanted to hitch my cart to Coach Tucker.”
“Coach Tucker and I have known of each other, just being in the business, never worked together, and had some mutual friends,” Gilmore said. “Obviously, with Jay Johnson and Coach (Chris) Kapilovic, we all worked together 20 years again at the University of Kansas, so we had that connection. That really kind of spearheaded and got (the process) going.
“Obviously, the respect I have for the program here and what they have done, and being in the Big Ten, I just felt it was time. I wanted to hitch my cart to Coach Tucker. I’ve been very excited about how he talks to the team and how he communicates to the staff — very transparent. I’m fired up about the possibilities.”
On what is critical/what needs to happen in the first year of the new coaching regime:
“I don’t think there’s a coach out there that don’t talk about the culture, that don’t talk about the process,” Gilmore said. “I think the important piece is getting the kids to trust what you’re saying. I think Coach Tucker and the staff have done a good job of letting them know and letting them see who we are. That’s the one thing with the whole COVID situation that I think actually has helped us. We’ve had a lot of time to do the Zooms, a lot of time to talk to them, and they’ve been able to get to know you in a different way — more so than just on the field and your personality on the field. So I think that has aided in that process.”
On progress between this past weekend’s scrimmage and the previously held scrimmage:
Gilmore says tight ends looked better conditioned, had more sense of urgency and better communication in last weekend’s scrimmage compared to the previous scrimmage.— Ryan O'Bleness (@ryanobleness) October 13, 2020
Said the group made some big strides, but there’s some bad and good he saw.
“There were two scrimmages,” Gilmore said. “Obviously from the first to the second one, as it relates to my position, in my opinion, we looked like we were better conditioned. There was more sense of urgency about our business. I think we made strides in terms of the communication across the board, just trusting one another and talking. Obviously, you see guys talking on the field, helping each other out and communicating. I think that’s important because when we’re on the practice field, you got the coaches standing directly behind you. Then, once we create that game atmosphere, they’re on their own. They gotta talk and rely on each other, and we made big strides in that area.
“There’s some good, there’s some bad, and it’s always going to be that. I try as best as possible to coach confidence and hang on the good, and not let the bad beat me up, but they’re working hard.”
On sophomore tight end (and converted defensive end) Adam Berghorst:
Gilmore says Adam Berghorst doesn’t have to be the fastest, but can use his length and body to create separation.— Ryan O'Bleness (@ryanobleness) October 13, 2020
“He’s working extremely hard,” Gilmore said. “He’s a big man, and we spend a lot of time trying to get him to play lower — trying to get his pads down in the run game. He has stepped it up being a little bit more physical, which we need him to do. With that size, he’s got to be able to hold the point for us. In the passing game, he’s a guy that I spend a lot of time trying to get him to transition a little better. Spend a lot of time trying to get him to understand that we don’t have to be the fastest guy, but with his body and his length he can create the same separation by learning how to lean on people and getting him to understand that.”
On redshirt sophomore tight end Trenton Gillison:
Gilmore says Trenton Gillison’s mission is to get better in run blocking. Says he is embracing it and on the way to taking the next step toward being a complete player.— Ryan O'Bleness (@ryanobleness) October 13, 2020
“Trent is a guy that runs extremely well and he’s a young man that we feel can really, really help us in the pass game part of it,” Gilmore said. “So his challenge and his mission is to get better at the point in the run game and to become a complete player so that’s something we’re trying to challenge him to do and he’s embracing it. As he continues to get better — as far as a leverage player getting better, as far as using our hands — I think he’s well on his way to taking that next step to become a complete player and to have a bigger role if he does that.”
On redshirt junior Max Rosenthal (converted fullback):
“Max is a guy that’s finding his way off that injury, still working through things,” Gilmore said. “He will still be more of that ‘move’ guy for us in my opinion, but time will tell on that.”
On redshirt junior Tyler Hunt (converted punter):
Gilmore says former punter Tyler Hunt has been a pleasant surprised. Hunt is making the transition to tight end.— Ryan O'Bleness (@ryanobleness) October 13, 2020
Note: my tweet says “former” punter, but Hunt is currently listed on the roster as a tight end/kicker/punter, so we may seem him punt in emergency situations. Also, of course, I meant “surprise” and not “surprised.”
“We moved Tyler Hunt to that position (of tight end) and he’s been a wonderful surprise,” Gilmore said. “He’s doing some really good things, and he brings some athleticism to the table. That excites me.”
On the biggest difference between coaching wide receivers and tight ends:
“For myself, it’s spending less time watching the wide angle, and (now) watching the tight angle — other than that it’s just coaching ball,” Gilmore — who spent the majority of his career coaching wide receivers — said. “Try to get the guys to step in the right direction and play with technique — that doesn’t change regardless of position you are. In my mind, it’s just focusing more on the box as opposed to the perimeter. That’s been my biggest transition.”