Spartan Offensive Grades

The Spartans are 6-0 and are considered one of the teams to watch the rest of the season. While there are some rough tests ahead, we also should look back and hand out grades for the teams early season performances.

The Spartans offense has been solid in many ways in 2010. It should also be no surprise the grades we hand out will reflect such a strong first half of the season.

QUARTERBACKS

It all starts with the quarterback position and Kirk Cousins has been solid so far this season hitting for over 68% (99-145-4, 1,416 yards, 10 TD) of his passes so far this season. Because of the Spartans strong rushing attack, the offense has been balanced and allowed for Cousins never to be placed in a position to have to win a game. While there were times early in the season we had a few questions about Kirk's progression reads, he started to show a great comfort level around the Notre Dame game and has not looked back.

Andrew Maxwell has only been in two games and taken a total of six snaps to date. Many would have hoped the Spartans would have been able to get Maxwell more time under center, but considering the Northern Colorado game was a blowout and three of the first six games were against major teams (Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Michigan) it should not be a surprise on the lack of snaps.

GRADE: A

RUNNING BACKS

Going into the season many felt good about having both Edwin Baker and Larry Caper back for their sophomore seasons. However, Caper was sidelined with an early injury and Bell took center stage with some solid performances.


Le'Veon Bell
Pat Strang, Scout.com
However, it has been Edwin Baker who has powered the Spartans rushing attack with a solid 683 yards on 97 carries. Some are questioning if the Spartans coaching staff can keep everyone happy, but all three have shown the willingness to allow the others to get their touches. Bell and Caper have also shown well catching the ball out of the backfield for some big plays.

GRADE: A+

OFFENSIVE LINE

The biggest question mark coming into the season was the Spartans offensive line and if they could come together and play well enough to allow the offense to play at a high level. While there have been some question marks and at times breakdowns, the overall play has been solid and continues to show improvements each week. While I would like to see a few less mistakes, the chance this group can only get better in the next several weeks could provide the Spartans the tools they need to run the table on the rest of the Big Ten.

GRADE: A

WIDE RECEIVER/TIGHT ENDS

Going into the season the tight end position was an area of strength for the Spartans. However, after losing one to injury and another for off the field issues, the Spartans were left with sure handed Charlie Gantt and dependable Brian Linthicum to keep the position as one of the team's strengths. The loss of Garrett Celek and Dion Sims was huge, but Gantt and Linthicum have done a solid job combining for 17 catches for 266 yards and three scores.


Keshawn Martin
Pat Strang, Scout.com
Everyone knew what Mark Dell and B.J. Cunningham were capable of doing and neither has disappointed so far. Keshawn Martin was the X factor, as we knew what to expect out of his ability on special teams. However, Martin is also playing a solid role as a receiver this season and combined with the tight ends, the Spartans have been extremely strong on the receiving end.

GRADE: A+

KICKER

Who was going to win the kicking job was a major question right up until the season started. Dan Conroy won the job and has never looked back hitting a perfect 9-of-9 including a long of 50-yards. What is even more impressive is he is not hitting a bunch of chip shots as only one of his kicks has come from 20-29 yards. The Spartans know they can call on Conroy from 30-50 yards out and the chances of him hitting it true are extremely high.

GRADE: A+

OFFENSIVE MVP

This was a very hard to pick, there are several guys you could give it to and say they are fully deserving of it. Therefore, while we only tried to name one, we just could not pick one. Therefore, the first half offensive MVP for the Spartans is… the offensive line. This group has done a great job of opening up the lanes for the Spartans running backs and giving solid protection for Kirk Cousins.


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