Roushar - Offense Coming Around

Michigan State offensive coordinator Dan Roushar knows work continues to be done along the offensive line and offense as a whole. The new coordinator spoke with the media following practice on Wednesday.

As highlighted since Michigan State opened camp the biggest question mark entering the 2011 season has been the rebuilding of the offensive line. While there are still several practices until a final unit must be set for the season opener against Youngstown State, offensive coordinator Dan Roushar was positive while also stressing the day was not one of the group's best.

Are the Spartans any closer on who will emerge as the starting five?

"No question," said Roushar. "Those guys have maybe started to separate themselves in some ways. The competition has been good and the attitude has been really good. We've had some really good moments where you look up and see the improvement, going back to the spring to where we're at today. It's been encouraging.

"But today was not a great day for us on the field, so I'm anxious to watch the tape and see the things we didn't do as well. But I think we're starting to come together and starting to gel with each other.

"I think we're getting closer (on knowing the starting five), but there's still a lot of football left in this training camp. I think we're starting to get a better idea. I think after this Saturday we'll have even a much better idea as we go into another key scrimmage."

While Roushar may not have been happy about the day's performance, he has been impressed with how the offensive line has been picking things up. What has impressed him the most so far during camp?

"I think the ability to take as much offense as we put in and execute it without a lot of mistakes," said Roushar. "They don't look like they've been playing tentative because they're thinking. I've been pleased with the execution of our passing game. Our protection at times has been pretty solid, but then we came off the field today in a third-down situation and we didn't do as well as we would've liked. So we'll look at that and evaluate it. I'm feeling like we have a chance to be pretty good up there."

So how are the battles going along the offensive line?

"I still think there's a lot of competition," said Roushar. "When you're looking at the center position in there. Travis Jackson has been doing a pretty good job, but we're seeing some other guys. Blake Treadwell is in there and he's battling. At moments, you think one guy has had a better day than the other.

"The right tackle position between Skyler Burkland and Fou (Fonoti), that goes back and forth, and you see some really good things from both of them. Over on the left side, Dan France and Jared McGaha continue to compete. Dan has had some good days, but today he wasn't very good. So we'll evaluate it and come back from there.

"Chris McDonald (right guard) is playing very, very well. He's playing as well as we've seen him play. He's improved an awful lot. And Joel Foreman has been very steady in there at left guard. I think that's where we're at. I think we still have competition at three positions of need, kind of figure that out as we go, but as I look at the other two inside guys right now we feel good about where they're at."

One of the luxuries along the line is the versatility of Blake Treadwell. How does that help the Spartans?

"He can play center, he can play guard," said Roushar. "He could possibly play both guards. That's part of our thought process as we go. We're trying to get the best five on the field and recognize that he has a lot to offer. As he continues to improve, he'll have a role. He's right in the thick of it. We'll figure out who's the starter I think after this weekend."

Another of the luxuries Roushar inherited was the Spartans depth at wide receiver. How much does it help knowing veterans like B.J. Cunningham, Keshawn Martin and Keith Nichol are out there pulling in passes from Kirk Cousins?

"It makes all the difference in the world," said Roushar. "Those guys have been there, they understand our language, and they know what we're doing - and they're able to execute it. At the same time, they can make plays. Keshawn in space is a very good football player. B.J. catches just about everything that is thrown to him. And we've been impressed with Keith Nichol's improvement; he's been very physical as a run blocker and he's a much better route runner than he was a year ago. That just comes with experience. He's gotten more comfortable with himself, so that's been good."

While Roushar has been a coordinator during his coaching career, since joining Mark Dantonio's staff at Cincinnati, he's worked as the offensive line coach. How does it feel now working with the entire offense?

"It's a lot of fun to work with the entire group," said Roushar. "That's what we enjoying doing out there this time of year. You hope those guys keep the fire and enjoy what they're doing. That's kind of the message today. We're in our 13th practice today and sometimes you get into those modes where it can be a little bit of a grind. We just hope they can appreciate what they have, where they're at, and where they're going, and enjoy it, particularly to those seniors. (They) only get to go through this one more time, and every day you have to make the best of it. So that's been our message and I think the guys have grabbed that. I hope they take a strong mindset that way and continue to enjoy it."


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