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MSU football: Answers to the five precamp questions

Here we are a mere 3 1/2 days away from kickoff between MSU and Boise State, perhaps one of the longest offseason build-ups to an opening game for the Spartans as I can remember in the past 20 years.

Later this morning, we will find out the first pregame depth chart. Back on Aug. 5, I took a look at some of the biggest questions and concerns MSU was facing entering preseason camp. Revisiting what I wrote more than three weeks ago, here’s what we know right now:

TOP FIVE STORYLINES TO FOLLOW
1A. Maxwell’s moment: We got to know Maxwell’s personality a lot more. He’s a strong and charismatic leader, for sure. His teammates paid him respect last week by voting him as one of the three captains. Coaches have raved about him, saying he’s farther along at this point than Kirk Cousins was. However, nothing has really changed, in that we need to see Maxwell in live-game action Friday. He’s shown good arm strength and mobility in practices we’ve been allowed to watch, but his development and decision-making ability can’t be fully judged until the games begin.

1B. Questions at receiver: The veterans quickly established themselves as the top six in the early days of camp. Junior Bennie Fowler, whose problematic foot injury appears fully healthy when he runs and cuts, is being talked about as a clear No. 1. Sophomores Keith Mumphery and Tony Lippett, along with redshirt freshman A.J. Sims all are in that group. The final three spots include DeAnthony Arnett, Jeremy Langford and true freshman Macgarrett Kings Jr., who seems to have clearly benefited from injuries to classmates Aaron Burbridge and Monty Madaris. Yet as it is with Maxwell, we’ll know more about their chemistry and timing with their new QB come Friday.

3. Holding the line: Blake Treadwell’s stress/hairline fracture in his tibia bumps redshirt freshman Jack Allen into a starting role at left guard. Skyler Burkland’s hand injury – though not serious – limits the depth as well, but the return of four starters is essential to improving the running game that was statistically one of the worst in the Big Ten a year ago. Seniors Chris McDonald and Fou Fonoti have developed as leaders of not only the line, but also the offense.

4. Backs to the front: Le’Veon Bell continues to be the top dog, but coaches and teammates have talked about how good Larry Caper has looked throughout camp. He’s vital as a second back to help alleviate the wear-and-tear on Bell, plus he’s a strong pass-blocker and screen pass-catcher to help accelerate Maxwell’s development. Nick Hill is pushing for carries as well, and he’s also added the title of starting punt returner along with kickoff returner in having a strong special teams camp.

5. Dominance of defense: The players are tired of hitting each other and working on drills, and they’re amped up for Friday’s opener. Two position battles entering camp – free safety and defensive tackle – turned into even more of a display of the Spartans’ defensive depth. Jairus Jones appears to have moved ahead of Kurtis Drummond, RJ Williamson and true freshman Demetrious Cox at free safety. Converted offensive lineman Micajah Reynolds took the lead to replace Jerel Worthy along the line, edging ahead of James Kittredge and Tyler Hoover. We’ve learned that the young linebackers behind the three returning starters will provide even more strength at a loaded position. The same holds true at defensive end behind starters William Gholston and Marcus Rush. And we’ve heard strong reports on true freshman Ezra Robinson at cornerback.

More later today after we meet with Mark Dantonio and get the initial depth chart.

This entry was posted in Football, Mark Dantonio, Michigan State. Bookmark the permalink.

77 Responses to MSU football: Answers to the five precamp questions

  1. avatar Spartan 81 says:

    Hey Chris can we give you a plate of chili cheese fries to call Chadd Cripes and get his prediction like Joe used to do, He ranked MSU #7 in his preseason poll and I wonder if he picks MSU.

  2. avatar Breadtruck86 says:

    We’re in for a tougher game than everyone thinks on Friday. We’ll wear them down in the second half, and hope we won’t get beat on trick plays. It’s tough to trick someone when you’re flat on your back, though….

    The big contributor no one is really talking about right now is Larry Caper. A big, strong back with good hands and the urgency of a Senior will be a big difference maker for the Spartans this year.

    I’m amped up for the opener, too!!!

    • avatar Spartan 81 says:

      Nobody with a brain does not realize this is no differant than playing Ohio State, Iowa , or Wisconsin at home. We will have to approach it as a bowl game.

    • avatar MSU Owns Denard says:

      I don’t know anyone who doesn’t think it will be a tough game. Totally agree with you about Caper, he’s finally healthy, bigger, and stronger !

  3. avatar 79 Spartan says:

    Not being in the EL area, I can’t believe you said “tougher game than everyone thinks”. I mean I drink the green Kool-Aid too, but let’s get real. Boise State is an established program and they want more national respect; beating a top B1G team will also go a long way. (The same is true for us, beating BSU will be a huge feather in our cap, nationally.)
    I’m with Coach D: 73-6 against some damn fine teams including Oregon, Virginia Tech and Georgia the past 3 seasons, which were all wins for the Broncos.

    Best opening game that I can remember and Spartan Stadium should be rocking.

    • avatar Spartan 81 says:

      Last one like this was Labor Day 87, tough win 27-13 over USC with defense, I hope for a similar outcome and a similar season.

  4. avatar Chris Solari says:

    MSU DEPTH CHART

    Defense: DE Rush DE Gholston; DT Reynolds/Hoover; NT White; LB Norman LB Bullough LB Allen; FC Dennard BC Adams; SS Lewis FS Jones/Drummond

    Offense: LT France LG J. Allen C Jackson RG McDonald RT Fonoti; X Lippett Z Mumphery F Fowler; QB Maxwell; TE D.Sims; TB Bell; FB Palazeti

    Special teams: KO Muma, PK Conroy, P Sadler, SN Pepper, HOLD Sadler/Cook, KR Hill/Caper, PR Hill

    • avatar hatrack says:

      Hey Chris, any idea why there are 12 positions listed on offense?

      • avatar Chris Solari says:

        My guess is twofold: 1. As a reward for a strong camp to those three WRs. 2. As a point of confusion for BSU as to how MSU will line up early.

        Depth charts, by rule, are sometimes insignificant come kickoff. For instance, Dantonio said there’s a chance Darien Harris – not in the two-deep – “could be playing in the game on the first snap of the game or he could be listed as third.”

  5. avatar AtlSpartan says:

    I’m on the plane on the way to the great state of Michigan, in the words of Gandolf, “and so it begins”.

    I arrive full of dreams of a National Championship, but I’ll take a Rose Bowl.

    Our defense will play hard, but this season rests with Andrew Maxwell. I can’t wait to see him play. We will know right away whether he has the right stuff. I have no statistical evidence to support my assertion, but I feel like the kid is going to be lights out. I think he is right for the moment.

    He has a defense and a running game that will help him, but the running game will be ineffective against 8 in the box until he can hit a couple of throws and losen them up. The reason he will do so well is that he has something Cousins didn’t have, (besides a great defense), he has an O-line that will give him time to throw, and experienced backs that won’t miss a blitz pick-up. That will be the difference.

    Go Green

    • avatar Breadtruck86 says:

      Absolutely right that Maxwell will shine. Our defense will provide him a lot of chances, particularly as the game wears on. More than likely the Boise QB will be running for his life in the second half.

  6. avatar Chris Solari says:

    Noteworthy:
    * Jones OR Drummond at FS
    * Reynolds OR Hoover at DT.
    * Lippett, Mumphery and Fowler all listed as starters at WR
    * Denzel Drone and Jeremy Gainer moved ahead of Lawrence Thomas at No. 3 DE. Thomas not on depth chart. Drone not listed at TE any more.
    * Jeremy Langford listed No. 4 at TB behind Bell, Caper and Hill. Langford also listed No. 2 at X WR behind Lippett
    * Blake Treadwell (stress fracture in tibia) not listed on OL depth chart; Donavon Clark No. 2 LG behind Jack Allen. Conway OR Dennis at No. 2 LT
    * No Darien Harris in depth chart; Taiwan Jones and Ed Davis are No. 2 OLBs; Kyler Elsworth and Steve Gardiner behind Bullough in middle.
    * TE depth: Sims, Gleichert OR Hoebing, Lang

  7. avatar Consultations with Jim Beam(JB) says:

    Appetizer MSU vs Boise State
    The main event below.
    As a young man, I helped to burn the hopes of Sexton, will the nation witness Denard Robinson
    Burn the hopes of Alabama with his world class speed and athleticism , Saturday night.

    Cowboys Stadium Classic: Alabama vs. Michigan
    Storied football powers the University of Alabama and the University of Michigan will open the 2012 college football season on Sept. 1, 2012 in the “Cowboys Stadium Classic” at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The prime time kickoff on either ESPN or CBS will mark the fourth time the schools have played each other, with the Wolverines leading the series 2-1.

    The Alabama-Michigan contest will be the third time since 2008 that the Crimson Tide has opened the season at a neutral site in front of a prime time national television audience. Alabama opened the 2008 and 2009 seasons with victories against ACC opponents Clemson and Virginia Tech, respectively, in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta, Georgia.

    The 2012 contest between Alabama and Michigan will be the fourth-ever meeting between the two schools, and first since the 1999 season when Michigan claimed a 35-34 overtime win against Alabama in the Orange Bowl. It also marks the first meeting between the two schools during the regular season after all three previous matchups taking place in bowl games. This will also be the first appearance for both squads at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

    Tickets for this event are Sold Out.

    • avatar Consultations with Jim Beam(JB) says:

      Funny who holds a 2-1 series edge over Alabama , can Sparty claim that?

    • avatar wearer of the belt says:

      I am not sure that Denards body can cash that check that you just wrote with your mouth.

    • avatar MSU Owns Denard says:

      Nobody here cares, Bama is gonna embarrass scUM, go away, breaktime is over

    • avatar You're Pathetic as usual JB says:

      JB consult,

      The real Brandstatter tweets it out and you still can’t even get BTHOOS right.
      Once again, you’ve blown it. So it’s back to THE TEST:

      1) Now, tell us who was the all state running back on the team was?
      2) Sing the fight song or write it A little clue for the clueless.
      ♫We’re ___________________♫
      3) What would Mrs Cossey say????

      • avatar Consultations with Jim Beam says:

        I can burn the hopes out of Sexton any day of the week, not going to debate you any more this week son, going elephant hunting in big D

      • avatar Consultations with Jim Beam (JB) says:

        She would say Hail Trojans hail were East Lansing, your voice is terrible that’s enough now go beat the hopes out of Sexton. Will not name friend by name on the Internet,good luck against Boise, we haveelephants to slay the flight leaves Thursday

        • avatar JB You're answers are even more Pathetic than usual says:

          You couldn’t BTHOOS, if they were a 3 alarm fire, before you got there. And your “fight song” is a joke. You still can’t sing…… then again, you can’t sing something you don’t know or ever heard.

  8. avatar Lancelot_Spartan says:

    Biggest surprises to me are to LT and no Darien Harris.

  9. avatar headeast says:

    Should be a fantastic night at Spartan Stadium…my only fear is Isaac will be parked overhead…

    • avatar hatrack says:

      Isaac shouldn’t get here ’til Sunday.

    • avatar Spartan 81 says:

      Isacc wont get north of Louisville, I have seen some that got up to I-80 and we could see the clouds from the upper deck.

    • avatar MSUDersh says:

      Good call on the weather, I hadn’t thought about that. Poor weather tends to to hurt the D more than the offense, BC the D has to react. It also negatively affects the kicking game, from.the snap to the hold & placement, and the actual kick itself. So basically, the two areas in which MSU is supposed to have an advantage!

  10. avatar Consultations with Jim Beam(JB) says:

    Michigan (0-0) vs. Alabama (0-0) in Arlington, Sept. 1, 8:00, ABC

    Here’s The Deal: To close out the 1999 season, Tom Brady and Michigan beat Shaun Alexander and Alabama 35-34 in a classic Orange Bowl that ranks among the greatest college football games of all-time.

    This is bigger.

    This is either the moment when one of college football’s leaders and best rises up to show that it’s ready to play the role of superpower again, or it will be a chance for the defending national champion to flex its muscle and prove to the world that it’s an SEC world with everyone else simply playing for fun?

    Can Michigan come up with the shocker and show that it belongs among the national title favorites? This is one of the Big Ten’s top teams going into the season in Brady Hoke’s second year at the helm, and while it’s expected to be in the mix for the conference title and the Rose Bowl all season long, this is the game the fan base has been waiting for while Michigan might not be quite the finished product the coaching staff wants it to be following the Rich Rodriguez era, it’s good enough to be able to realistically think it can go toe-to-toe with a team as good as Alabama

    Why Michigan Might Win: It’s possible that Denard Robinson just might be that good.

    Rarely do good Michigan teams get to play the Nobody Believes In Us card, and motivation only goes so far against a team as good as Alabama, but this will be an attitude game on the lines and the Wolverines have the ability to more than hold their own on offense. Alabama’s front seven might be a rock, but Taylor Lewan and the veteran offensive line will be a strength, now knowing what it’s supposed to do under Hoke. Few coaching staffs do a better job of creating holes to get their speed guys into space, and while the chances might be few and far between, all it will take is one or two key chances for Robinson to break off a big dash.

    This isn’t going to be a high-scoring game – at least Michigan isn’t going to be able to hang 30 points on the board – and the Wolverine D should be able to load up to stop the run. Alabama’s passing game won’t do much deep, and while QB AJ McCarron should get plenty of time to work, he’ll have a hard time doing much more than keeping things short-to-midrange, like he did against LSU in the BCS championship. Michigan was able to survive last season when it got dinked and dunked on, and this year the back seven is even stronger with six starters back including a solid safety tandem of Jordan Kovacs and Thomas Gordon. This group has been through the lean times and now knows what it’s doing.

    The biggest key for Michigan will be the turnover margin. Alabama was phenomenal at holding on to the ball after giving up four picks in the opener against Kent State, but with new running backs, receivers playing different roles, and in the first game of the year, it might take a little bit for everyone to be settled. The Wolverines were great at forcing fumbles last season coming up with 20 recoveries, and without Richardson to handle the rock, the chances will be there to come up with a few key takeaways.

    • avatar MSU Owns Denard says:

      Nobody read any of that when they saw who posted it, dammit walmart gives a lot of breaks to you

      • avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

        I certainly know that I just thumbed right on by: interesting about a Tropical Storm or low grade typhoon or Hurricane is they DON’T carry themselves well across land. National Weather Service still calling for 94 and 10% chance of rain. Doesn’t sound like they think ole’ Isaac will bother the game.

        • avatar Spartan 81 says:

          Slow mover in Missouri Friday night not getting to Michigan till Sunday

        • avatar '89 Chemistry says:

          Good thing the remnants won’t make it to Dallas, eh?

          Just for you: A report from Washtenaw District Court—-
          http://tinyurl.com/cq2pkmu
          Getting outrun by Le’veon Bell & stifled in the Big House by Little Brother right before going to jail? Ouch!

          • avatar Spartan 81 says:

            Thanks, nice birthday present you were right Hoke had inside info on the reduced plea gives him plausible deniability when he plays the kid

      • avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

        Just think how lonely and afraid this poor little child must be that he has to find a place where everyone despises him as a person and an idea. Then he posts his blather and bathes in the heaps of criticism and disdain that flow his way. Like all Paris Hiltons, any attention is good attention.

  11. avatar 79 Spartan says:

    Not that I give a flyng flip, but…

    scUM continues to lost Fitz Toussaint as No. 1 on Michigan’s depth chart.
    Asked whether he is the starting tailback, Hokey-Pokey said, “No decision has been made.”

    As well, “suspended” defensive end Frank Clark, charged with a 2nd-degree home break in – a felony charge as I understand it – is listed on the two-deep as a backup for the opener.

    WHATEVER !!!

  12. avatar Mike says:

    ATTENTION SPARTAN STUDENTS: NEW FOOTBALL TRADITION: Yell the M – S – U at the end of the alma mater during pregame.

  13. avatar The Tanner says:

    Burkman bang up hand baby !!!

    Build up to opener baby !!!

    Capers coming on strong baby !!!

    The Tanner got the inside info baby !!!

  14. avatar Spartan 81 says:

    Marine , tanner has absolutely no inside info

  15. avatar Ben Green says:

    Too bad half the comments here are goose poop or responses to goose poop.

    There is only one (1) game this weekend that really matters and it’s Friday night in Spartan Stadium.

    GO GREEN!

  16. avatar hatrack says:

    One game at a time folks. If we Spartans adhere to this mantra there is hope at the end of the season. Let’s start by beatin’ the Broncos.

    Go Green!

  17. avatar '89 Chemistry says:

    * Note that number 3 on this list
    http://www.cbssports.com/collegefootball/blog/bruce-feldman/19951625/top-10-list-the-breakout-coaches-of-2012
    is first among all non-head coaches.

    * Oh, and thanks to Brian & Chris for the Everything
    GreenAndWhite
    updates on the blog sidebar. Twitter can have valid journalistic utility if used properly, and this makes it convenient for blog readers to get the briefest of news briefs between blog entries.

    Having said that, remember that blog pages become unwieldy after 200-300 comments. I recommend a new page be put up during the halftimes of games. And if possible, two post-game blog entries within 24 hours–especially for basketball. Thank you.

    • avatar Chris Solari says:

      Thanks for the head’s up, ’89. We just talked about adding the Twitter feed to the rail today. Thanks to Reid Williams and Connie Martin on our social media/digital teams for getting that up and running so quickly! Now to test if my account is tied to it.

  18. avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

    Here is something that is absolutely inane: ”
    brian_calloway Last game Maxwell started was in Nov. 2008 in a regional final for Midland H.S.”

    Let’s all state something so obvious that it makes us forget this tweet by Brian.

    1. It will be dark when the game is over on Friday.

  19. avatar TJ says:

    Location of the tailgate (and is Joe going to be there ?) for those of us fortunate to go to the game in person and to meet on Friday to put some faces with names? I’m traveling in from across the country and will be thirsty…

  20. avatar Lynn says:

    ATTENTION SPARTAN STUDENTS: NEW FOOTBALL TRADITION: Yell the M – S – U at the end of the alma mater during pregame.

    • avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

      See, if they are students, then it’s not their alma mater yet. If it’s their alma mater, they are no longer students. Can I make that any clearer? Do ya get it?

  21. avatar USMCSpartan(Ret.) says:

    Joe’s been writing for the Freep for less than a month and looky here: “Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson makes the big plays and avoids the bad ones against this Michigan State defense, …” Joe, dreadlocks will be lucky to still be moving under his own power after Sat. night Elephant Stomp and one hit by Will the Thrill will remind of that pain: he’ll be the same coward as all “Michigan Men” are after that hit. He couldn’t complete a pass in pop warner, junior high, high school, or his first 3 years of college, what changed? Nothing. with no running attack, he’ll revert to east-sest scampers for his life, their D line will part as the Red Sea did for Moses, and with no pass rush; Agent 86 has a field day.

    As for your call that the Acorns under Urban blight win in EL, their QB is worse than dreadlocks and our O line is way better than last year, Bell and Caper run wild.

    • avatar GoSt8Go says:

      the consensus among Joe, Chris and Brian seems to hint as us hitting the wall with 10 straight games. While I agree that is a factor, we are deep for this very reason. Staying healthy will help tremendously. That said, MD’s teams are well trained in dealing with adversity.

    • avatar MSU Owns Denard says:

      Dammit the blue wall has struck Joe already…

      MSU will NOT lose at home to the buckeyes, just cause they looked good vs that crappy scUM defense does not mean they will do good against ours\

      MSU has stomped dreadlocks the last 2 years into numerous mistakes, bank on it for 3 years in a row

      just another reason MSU fans stay away from the free press, the detroit news is much better for MSU fans

  22. avatar Spartan 81 says:

    See you guys Friday morning , looking forward to it.

  23. avatar Spartydoobydoo says:

    Hokey Pokey says, “Whenever you’re in this position, you’ve got to make decisions that are best for the program,” Hoke said. “That doesn’t mean for one specific team. That means for the program. That means for the identity and the character of the program that you represent. Are they easy decisions? No. Are they decisions you want to make because you love the kids? No. But you have to make them.”

    Shouldn’t it be what’s best for the kid in question? Sit him for a game or two, so he understands that there are consequences for your actions.

    Naaaaaahhhhh, Hokey’s all about the PROGRAM….therefore, he’ll sit out the first series of the game and will be playing by the 2nd half!! Re-donk-u-lous!!

    • avatar MSU Owns Denard says:

      remember scooby, hokey pokey is a floyd carr product, discipline is the last thing on his mind !

      • avatar java bob says:

        That is unfair, Lloyd Carr disciplined me, I once walked out of an establishment without paying my tab, Lloyd gave me $40 and told me to march back in there and pay the bar, He would not let me suit up until I did it, So you are wrong, btw good show on VH1 called tons of cash, please tell all your friends to watch it for me. Good luck against Boise.

  24. avatar Spartan 81 says:

    Go State8 Go and Trophy in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout,
    We’ve been talkin’ ’bout Jackson, ever since the Outback fire went out.
    theyre goin’ to Jackson, Theyre gonna mess around,
    Yeah, I’m goin’ to Jackson,
    Look out Jackson town.

    Well, go on down to Jackson; Denard go ahead and wreck your health.
    Go play your hand you big-talkin’ man, make a big fool of yourself,
    We are going goin’ to Jackson; Denard go comb your hair!
    They are going to Jackson.
    See if I care.

    When Trophy breeze into that city, people gonna stoop and bow. (Hah!)
    All them women gonna make me, teach ‘em what they don’t know how,
    I’m goin’ to Jackson, you turn-a loose-Go St8go.
    ‘Cos they are goin’ to Jackson.
    “Goodbye,” that’s all Go State 8 go wrote.

    But they’ll laugh at Denard in Jackson, and Trophy be dancin’ on a Pony Keg.
    Bama will lead Denard ’round town like a scalded hound,
    With his tail tucked between his legs,
    Trophy goin’ to Jackson, Denards a big-talkin’ man.
    And Go St8 go be waitin’ in Jackson, behind all the Hey Joe Fans

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