Jonal Saint-Dic, DE – The Spartans' 6-1, 255-pound defensive end is best known for the seven sacks he's recorded in the season's first six games, but he might be most dangerous due to the NCAA-high six fumbles he's forced. That total is not only double what anyone else in the Big Ten has forced, but he's already on the verge of breaking the Big Ten record of seven, set by Penn State's Michael Haynes in 2002.
A native of Haiti who emigrated when he was five years old, Saint-Dic is an athletic playmaker off the edge, and nearly half of his 22 tackles this season have come behind the line of scrimmage (10). His emergence, quite frankly, is a surprise to most, including his own team. A fifth-year senior, Saint-Dic was a junior college transfer who was injured in 2005, started just four games in 2006, and began the 2007 season as a second-stringer. But he made his presence known with a three-sack effort against Bowling Green in week two, and he's been turning heads ever since.
Devin Thomas, WR/KR - Thomas is someone to be concerned about when catching the ball, running the ball, and returning the ball. The 6-2, 218-pounder ranks 25th nationally in receiving yards (90.3 yards/game), and he's averaging 21.7 yards/reception. He's caught four touchdowns, and nine of his 25 receptions have gone for 20 yards or more.
While his pass catching abilities are concern No. 1, he's also rushed the ball 15 times for 148 yards, or nearly 10 yards/carry. Michigan State has gotten him the ball on hand-offs a great deal since Big Ten play opened, as he carried five times for 61 yards against Wisconsin and six times for 52 yards against Northwestern. On kickoff returns he ranks seventh nationally with a 31.5 yards/return average, and he even returned a pair of punts in last week's loss to Northwestern.
In all, Thomas averages 205.5 all-purpose yards/game, ranking him first in the Big Ten and fourth nationally.
Kellen Davis, TE/DE –Davis is doing the unthinkable at the Big Ten level – playing on both sides of the ball. The 6-6, 246-pounder spends most of his time as a starting tight end, where he's the team's third-leading receiver with 12 receptions for 188 yards and three touchdowns. But he's also getting some snaps at defensive end, where he's recorded four tackles and two sacks. He saw his most extensive action in Michigan State's win over Notre Dame, when he played 92 snaps (74 offense, 11 defense, 7 special teams). While it's a rarity in college football, Davis is one of two players who's gone both ways this season. A slew of early-season injuries in the secondary forced MSU to play wide receiver T.J. Williams at cornerback against Notre Dame. Williams hasn't had nearly as big of an impact, though, totaling one reception and two tackles this season.
Otis Wiley, FS – Wiley was tabbed as a preseason first-team All-Big Ten choice after leading the Spartans in tackles (94) and passes broken up (10) a year ago. But Wiley has struggled in the early going, and actually didn't start in last week's loss to Northwestern. When he did get in he didn't do much to recapture his starting spot, as a missed tackle led to a 78-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter, and he then surrendered a 70-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter by allowing Wildcat receiver Eric Peterman to get behind him and then compounded the problem by going for the strip instead of bringing him to the turf which allowed Peterman to score. Michigan State Coach Mark Dantonio admitted that Wiley's confidence is shaken, and he'll be trying to regroup against an IU spread attack that's very similar to what they faced a week ago when they surrendered 526 passing yards to Northwestern.
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What's coming up:
On Monday – Five Numbers to Note
On Tuesday - Four Players to Know
On Wednesday – Three Big Concerns
On Thursday – Two Key Match-Ups
On Friday – One Bold Prediction
MICHIGAN STATE: Four Days and Counting
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