MSU PREVIEW: Four Days and Counting

Michigan State running back Javon Ringer is the face of the Spartan program these days, but there are plenty of other players on Coach Mark Dantonio's roster that present significant challenges for the Hoosiers this weekend. Today, we continue our day-by-day preview of the IU-Michigan State match-up with "Four Names to Know" on the Spartans' roster...

Mark Dell, WR – With the huge numbers that Michigan State running back Javon Ringer has put up as of late (and against IU last season), IU would appear to have no choice but to commit an extra to the box to try to slow down the Spartans' rushing attack. That would likely leave IU's cornerbacks in more one-on-one situations this weekend, which means Dell is a player to keep an eye on. The 6-2, 188-pound sophomore played in all 13 games as a true freshman and has emerged as the team's go-to receiver. He's caught 17 balls for 400 yards and a touchdown, and his 23.5 yards/reception average is among the best in the Big Ten. He'll be going up against an IU secondary that will be missing its No. 1 corner, Chris Phillips due to a knee injury. That will leave redshirt freshman Chris Adkins and sophomore Richard Council as the likely starters. Both have been solid in the season's first month, but they'll probably face their toughest test this weekend.

Chris Rucker, CBIndiana went down to the wire before losing a very close recruiting battle for Rucker two years ago, and the Warren, Ohio, product has been a key to the Spartan defense this season. Like Dell, Rucker earned a handful of starts as a true freshman in 2007 and has become one of the team's top performers in 2008. Rucker is the team's fourth leading tackler with 21 stops, including 2 ½ tackles for loss. Michigan State likes to blitz opposing quarterbacks from just about anywhere on the field, and Rucker is among those who will get a couple of chances to try to chase down IU quarterback Kellen Lewis Saturday afternoon.

Roland Martin, RG - Javon Ringer gets the national publicity for his 699 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns, but he couldn't do it without an MSU offensive line that has been opening plenty of holes for him this fall. Martin is the biggest of the bunch up front, standing 6-5 and weighing 330 pounds. He's a third-year starter at right guard, and he'll be lined up next to another third-year starter in 6-6, 318-pound Jesse Miller at right tackle. Michigan State is also a bit or a rarity these days because they also utilize a fullback and a blocking tight end, and 6-4, 252-pound tight end Charlie Gantt will be lined up next to Miller, and Ringer will run behind these big bodies all afternoon – unless IU's defense can figure out a way to slow him down. Left end Jammie Kirlew and defensive tackle Greg Brown will have their hands full trying to hold their own in the trenches against these big bodies.

Greg Jones, OLB – This 6-1, 222-pound sophomore not only played as a true freshman last season, he led the team with 78 tackles and became the first MSU rookie to lead the team in stops since 1976. Now in his second year as the team's starting strongside linebacker, he's picked up right where he left off with a team-best 26 tackles and 4 ½ tackles for loss in the first four contests. He'd led the team in tackles in three of the four games, including the last two when MSU yielded a total of seven points in wins over Florida Atlantic and Notre Dame. He's a gifted athlete with excellent speed who won't be as easy for Kellen Lewis to elude when he's trying to chase him down.

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


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