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Notes & Quotes: Michigan State football coaches and players give updates on spring practice

Offensive line coach Chris Kapilovic discussed how he’s overcoming depth issues in practice.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 30 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - Pitt v Michigan State Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Michigan State football assistant head coach/offensive line coach/run game coordinator Chris Kapilovic and pass-rush specialist coach Brandon Jordan gave an update on spring practice this morning.

Kapilovic addressed the need for depth on the offensive line, saying that some guys have to play multiple positions and it might be a “little unfair” to them. But he also mentioned that younger players are getting more reps than they would otherwise.

The unfortunate problem for Michigan State’s offensive line group is that there will be more players arriving for fall camp. So making do with what the Spartans have now is a bit of a struggle.

“For half of my brain, I’m feeling sorry for these guys that are out here,” Kapilovic said. “The other side of me is like, ‘I can’t waste this opportunity.’ If we accept mediocrity then that’s what we’re going to get, so we can’t do that.

“Coach (Mel Tucker) has done a great job of putting us in a situation where we’ve been able to limit the reps to where the expectation is when they do go full throttle. In turn, I gotta coach them like there’s 20 (guys) out there. I don’t care if there’s five out there or seven, we have to get better every day. So we have to approach it that way.”

Only seven of MSU’s offensive lineman were dressed for Tuesday morning’s practice. Only two of those players were projected starters in center Nick Samac and Spencer Brown, who is currently in competition to win the starting right tackle job. Redshirt freshman Geno VanDeMark observed from the sidelines with a cast on his right hand, while sixth-year senior Matt Carrick is still recovering from offseason surgery after suffering a significant leg/knee injury during the 2021 season.

Next, Michigan State’s new pass-rush specialist Brandon Jordan walked to the podium to give an introduction. He was hired in January and specializes in training elite defensive lineman, working with more than 190 players on NFL rosters during the 2021 season, including Pro Bowl players Jadeveon Clowney, Maxx Crosby, Cameron Heyward, Chandler Jones, Von Miller and T.J. Watt.

“Once I got the call, I ran to it,” Jordan mentioned of the opportunity to join Michigan State’s coaching staff. “Seeing (Mel Tucker’s) vision, this is the place to be.”

Jordan mentioned that “this is a good group” and that he transitions between position groups on a week-to-week basis, working with defensive ends, defensive tackles and linebackers. He says he shows them NFL tape when he gets the chance to bring their game to the next level.

When asked about his big picture goal for his coaching career, Jordan also said he just wanted to be “here” at Michigan State in the future as well.

In terms of Jordan’s process for teaching players how to pass rush, which junior defensive end Jeff Pietrowski recently said is something he’s “never been around,” Jordan had this to say about the way he breaks things down for his players:

“I think I’m a little at different at what I do,” Jordan said. “Just how I teach the rush, I break it down. I’m a real progressive guy because me growing up, I was a progressive learner. So I teach by detail. So, I’ll go small detail, small detail, small detail, and put it all together. So when you put it all together, now they know the small details, so if they mess up at that small detail, now they can correct (themself). So I’m trying to make it where it’s muscle memory and it’s self-corrective.”

Jordan also mentioned that athleticism helps with pass rush, but what is important is discipline, body control and coordination between your eyes, hands and feet.

As far as his goals for this group, Jordan said he wants them to be the “best pass-rushing group in college football” next season.

Samac also spoke to the media on Tuesday. He sais he benefited from splitting time at center with Matt Allen last year, and says this is his chance to step up as a leader of this group.

Brown also had some time at the podium. He also mentioned leadership as an important detail: “My job is to lead by example and help everybody else around me, because they look at everything I do.”

Michigan State’s spring game is slated for April 16.

Spencer Brown

Brandon Jordan

Chris Kapilovic

Mel Tucker (Monday Remarks)