So, as my team is playing in one of two games on tap for tonight, here’s a quick preview of what to expect from the Michigan State Spartans. None of this goes into great amounts detail, but if you’re craving football and don’t know much about MSU, this should give you a brief idea of what you’ll see.
Last year, we went 11-2, with losses to Iowa (bad) and Alabama (very bad). We had some memorable moments that proved Mark Dantonio has enormous brass balls, and some solid wins over good teams. The reasonable Spartan fan does not expect another 11 win season, but expectations are high and optimism is even higher. Meanwhile, the unreasonable Spartan fan sees no reason why we can’t go undefeated and win the NC, dawg.
Here’s a look at our schedule this year:
9/2: Youngstown State
9/10: Florida Atlantic
9/17: @Notre Dame
9/24: Central Michigan
10/1: @Ohio State
A fairly brutal road schedule, but not as tough as, say, Nebraska’s road schedule. Nonetheless, compared to last year, this is a lot harder. In my personal opinion, the games that determine our season will be the OSU, Wisconsin, and/or Nebraska games.
POSITIONS IN TWO SENTENCES OR LESS
Here’s what to look for at each position:
1) Quarterbacks: Kirk Cousins is in his last year as a 5th year senior. Considered one of the best in the nation at the play action pass.
2) Running backs: Two juniors in Larry Caper and Edwin Baker, one sophomore in Le’Veon Bell. Baker is a short, tough sonuvabitch that is just as good as any monster RB you’d see out of Wisconsin. If he continues his upward trend from how he played last year, it’s a possibility he’ll bolt for the NFL draft at the end of the year.
3) Receivers: Led by BJ Cunningham and former QB Keith Nichol. Nichol is a ton of fun to watch, and I’m hoping he has a great year this year.
4) Oline: For those that want opportunities to laugh at MSU, watch the Oline. This is our biggest question mark at the moment, as outside of Guard/Monster Joel Foreman, there’s a lot of concern. Especially watch the center, as we’re starting a former Dlineman in Blake Treadwell, and he might not be the one that wins the starting position for the rest of the season.
5) Tight Ends: Entering his 17th year as a player, Brian Linthicum is expected to contribute again this year.
7) Linebackers: Greg Jones and Eric Gordon both are gone this year, so this is also a group to watch/make fun of as they flounder about and try to figure out their responsibilities as starters.
8) Cornerbacks: Our resident drunkard/star CB Chris L Rucker is also gone this year. Some people are worried about this, but his backup from last year, Darqueeze Dennard, is a starter now, and he showed a lot of promise last year in the game against Illinois, when he intercepted a ball and prevented a touchdown.
9) Safeties: Trenton Robinson had a pretty impressive season last year. If he plays like he did last year (or better!), we’re in very good shape.
10) Kickers and Punters: The Irish are extremely happy to see Aaron Bates is gone. We’ve got a new guy in now, and it remains to be seen how he’ll live up to his predecessor.
11) In a league of his own: Keshawn Martin is back for one more year, and will try to score a touchdown in every single way possible in the game of football.
STRATEGIES AND SYSTEMS
Offense: Dantonio loves the run. He’ll run it up the gut for most of the day if it works. Our team is definitely in the same mold as Wisconsin or Iowa, to give a basic idea. As previously stated, however, Cousins is phenomenal at the play action pass, so once the running game sets up the passing game (or if the running game just isn’t working), he’ll happily start passing. A lot of his work comes under center, but it’s no surprise if he lines up in shotgun with three wide receivers either.
Defense: I think we’ll stick with a 4-3 this year. Last year there was a small bit of experimentation with a 3-4 since our biggest strength was in our linebacker corps. 5-star recruit Lawrence Thomas was not listed on the depth chart, so it’s likely he’s going to be redshirted. Former 5-star recruit Will Gholston is at DE, and expected to contribute a lot this year.
Special Teams: I suspect Dantonio emphasizes special teams a lot more than anyone ever reports on, because we have been consistently solid in this area for his entire tenure at MSU so far. Wisconsin fans will (not so) fondly recall Brett Swenson in 2008, and Notre Dame fans will (not so) fondly recall Aaron Bates last year. There have been quite a few games where if we didn’t have a solid kicker getting field goals for us, we’d probably have lost.
Trolling: If you want to support MSU, great! We’re glad to have your support. Do your best to troll all Michigan, Notre Dame, and Wisconsin supporters as hard as you possibly can. Want to troll MSU instead? There’s plenty of ammunition for that too.
Sports outside of football: This guy seems to do pretty well, and despite this guy, these guys have done pretty well too.