FanPost

Offensive preview

The Spartans had an offensive resurgence last year as Thorne, Walker, Reed and Nailor created the most explosive offense we have had in decades.

It seemed like we were never out of a game no matter how badly we were playing even against good teams.
In the Peach bowl we were 11 points down with 9 minutes to go and yet won by 10, against UM we were 16 points down with 19 minutes left in the game and won by 4.

In 2018, 2019 and 2020 our offense was miserable averaging just 19 points per game over three seasons.
Last year we jumped up to a very respectable 32 points per game.

We led the entire Big Ten in fourth down conversions, and most of the time they weren’t 4th and short.

That helped us win every close game we had last year, instilling a sense of confidence in the offense that they could pull anything out.

So what does this year hold for the offense?


Returning starters 5 out of 11, including the dynamic duo of Thorne and Reed.

Quarterback
Losses - None
Starter: Payton Thorne
Backup: Noah Kim, Katin Houser
QB - Big strength as long as Thorne stays healthy
QB is the most important position on the team and we have a great one returning after an excellent season last year.
Thorne is one of the most underapreciated QB’s in the nation.
He quietly broke the MSU all time record for TD passes while everyone focused on Walkers heroics at RB.
After that it is more of a mystery as neither Kim or Houser has taken a snap in a college game.
Katin Houser finished top 10 in the entire county in the elite 11 QB competition, enrolled early, and definitely has the skills once he learns the offense.


Running back
Huge loss - Kenneth Walker
Starter: Jarek Broussard or Jalen Berger
Backup: Elijah Collins, Harold Joiner, Jordon Simmons
RB - Strength and very deep
You can’t replace Kenneth Walker running or Hayward’s blocking but we are loaded with talent in the running back room.
So much so that Primm who everyone raved about in the spring has moved over to CB because there just aren’t any carries to be had.
Broussard transferred in from Colorado where he was able to rush for over 800 yards in just 5 games which earned him PAC 12 offensive player of the year in 2020. He rushed for 155 yards in just a single quarter something even Walker did not do.
Berger transferred in from Wisconsin and was a top 150 player coming out of high school.
Collins rushed for 988 yards in his Spartan freshmen season in 2019, but had covid and other injuries the last few years and has hardly played.
Simmons led the team in rushing in 2020.
Joiner was a 4 star recruit who transferred in from Auburn but unfortunately for him Kenneth Walker also transferred in.
So as you can see the RB room is talented and extremely deep so even without Walker we will have a good running game if there are any holes for them to run in.


Wide receiver
Big loss - Jason Nailor
Starters: Jayden Reed, Tre Mosley, Keon Coleman
Backups: Germie Bernard, Antonio Gates Jr., Christian Fitzpatrick, Terry Lockett Jr., Tyrell Henry, Montorie Foster,
WR - big strength and very deep
I was really hoping Nailor would come back as the combo of Reed and Nailor usually ensured one would get single coverage deep.
However we have plenty of talent at the WR spot.
Reed is first team B10 level and will definitely be in the NFL.
Tre Mosley is a sure handed 6’2" receiver who just wasn’t targeted that much because thorne had Nailor and Reed to throw to.
Coleman is a top 400 talent that has year of experience and is 6’ 4" inches, fast, and has great leaping ability.
Germie Bernard is a 6’ 2" top 250 talent that enrolled early and has looked good.
Antonio Gates is another top 250 talent who arrived in the summer
We also have Fitzpatrick, Henry and Lockett for depth who were all in the 500-750 range.


Tight end
Big loss - Conner Hayward
Starter: Daniel Barker
Backup: Maliq Carr, Tyler Hunt, Jack Nickel
TE - strength
Barker was one of the top 5 transfer portal tight ends
Carr was a top 200 recruit and showed flashes of his high caliber talent last year.
Hunt is an experienced reliable TE who started for us last year.
Nickel is top 500 recruit who enrolled early.
We will obviously miss Hayward but we have a decent number of options to replace him.

Now for the only real issue on the offensive side:

Offensive line
Huge Losses - 4 of the 5 peach bowls starters - Matt Allen, Kevin Jarvis, AJ Arcuri and Blake Bueter.
Other Losses - backups Luke Campbell, James Ohonba, Jacob Isaia
Starters:
LT - Jarrett Horst - missed the last 5 games and the Spring game with an undisclosed injury.
LG - JD Duplain - starter last year but missed the Spring game with an injury.
C - Nick Samac - no starts last year.
RG - Brian Greene - started as a walk on, only 8 starts the last 2 years combined for Washington St, and was injured both years.
RT - Spencer Brown - 1 start last year
Backups:
LT Brandon Baldwin,
LG Kevin Wigenton,
C Dallas Fincher,
RG Matt Carrick/Geno VanDeMark,
RT Ethan Boyd
Others not expected to play: Braden Miller, Gavin Broscious, Ashton Lepo, Kris Phillips
O-line - Potential weakness with no proven depth
This is the only area of concern for the offense but it is a doozy as without a decent offensive line even the best offensive coordinator, RB and QB will never get a chance to show their talent.
Speaking of talent our offensive line does not have a ton of it recruiting wise:
VanDemark #438 has not played a snap
Fincher #470 has not played a snap
Brown #528 has one start
Samac #592 no starts last year, but backed up Allen regularly.
Boyd #668 has not played a snap
Broscious #749 has not played a snap
Duplain #802
Carrick #820
Lepo #950
Greene not in the top 1000
Horst not in the top 1000
Baldwin not in the top 1000
Wigenton not in the top 1000
Miller not in the top 1000
Phillips not in the top 1000
On the plus side Tucker has recruited 4 guys who will arrive next year that will vastly improve our athleticism on the O-line
Stanton Ramil #195
Cole Dellinger #340
Clay Wedin #349
Johnathan Slack #563

We lost four of the five starters who started in the peach bowl, only returning Spencer Brown and that was his first start.
We lost an incredible 136 starts of experience from last years team ( each game has 5 starts, one for each O-linemen ).
None of our projected backups have ever taken a single snap in a college game aside from Carrick, and he is coming off an ACL tear.
Carrick missed the last 6 games, all of the spring, and is still not up to full speed at the end of fall camp.
We were unable to have a Spring game because only 5 scholarship offensive linemen were able to suit up ( Samac, Brown, Wigenton, Boyd and Baldwin )
This is one area we absolutely can not afford injuries, and we need to get our totally inexperienced back ups some significant playing time in our first two games.
On the plus side if we stay totally healthy our line consists of 4 seniors and one junior, who may not have played as a unit but all have played a lot of snaps and know the system.
Kapilovic is supposed to be one of the best offensive line coaches in the business (million $ salary), so hopefully with two years in his system guys will be ready to go.


Summary
Our offense will go as far as our O-line will take us.
We are loaded with talent at the skill positions and just need a O-line that can open a hole and protect Thorne, if they can do that we will have a very potent offense again this year and should actually score more points than last year.
I expect us to look really good against teams with weak defensive lines.
The key will be to avoid injuries as we can’t afford to lose Thorne, Reed, or anyone on the O-line.

This is a FanPost, written by a member of the TOC community. It does not represent the official positions of The Only Colors, Inc.--largely because we have no official positions.