Staten Feels Challenged

With all Michigan State fans watching the performance of the offensive line each week, Spartans offensive line coach Mark Staten knows his group will play a major role in the team's success against Ohio State. On Wednesday, Staten spoke with the media about how several of his charges are progressing.

Despite injuries to several key members of Michigan State's offensive line, Spartans offensive line coach Mark Staten knows he's feeling just as challenged as his offensive linemen. However, he's also seen teammates help one another when it matters most.

"I feel challenged," said Staten. "I'll tell you that right now. You're dealing with a lot of young guys, a lot of guys new to the position. We've had to mix and match because of multiple injuries over the first four games. The nice thing is a lot of them have played a lot of different positions from the things we did in the spring, which has helped them. They've been able to communicate with each other things they've seen, and we're able to continue to move forward.

"When you're trying to be successful, you have to trust one another. `OK, I'm down, I can't go out there, but I'm going to help you, and watch and study film and communicate with you what I've seen.' The nice thing about these guys is when I come to the sidelines and talk to them, I hear them talking to each other. I hear a John Deyo say `I saw this, is this what happened out there?' to Joel, or I hear Joel talking to Chris McDonald. When another one is going in, they communicate before they go in, `hey, this is what I'm getting, this is what I'm seeing on the man I'm going against."

One Spartan who has stepped up to the challenge has been Fou Fonoti. How does Staten feel the junior college transfer has performed?

"He's a tough son-of-a-gun," said Staten. "He's smart. I mean, you saw him in the Notre Dame game all week spending time at left tackle, and Skyler (Burkland) got hurt, and he jumped right in at right tackle. It was like he hadn't missed a beat from what he had practiced all two-a-days. I'm real excited about Fou and his progress. The more he knows and the more he understands our offense, the more aggressive he can be. You saw a lot of that in this last game. His job is to get one game better this week."

With the fulltime move of Fonoti to the right side, Micajah Reynolds has moved back to the offensive side of the ball. What role does Staten see Reynolds taking on Saturday?

"Don't know what his role will be," said Staten. "We'll see how the game is going. He didn't lose a whole lot because he was with us for two-plus years. So he didn't lose a lot. He's an intelligent football player. He's focused. So we'll see where his role goes on how the game is going, but I'm very pleased with him."

Despite Reynolds move to left tackle, Staten does not see him replacing Dan France as the starter.

"I don't think it's a day-to-day competition, not by any means," he continued. "Micajah's able to spell Dan, and a fresher Dan France is a better Dan France."

As for how France is progressing, Staten knows there is a learning curve for the Ohio native.

"Dan is improving day-to-day," said Staten. "He's been a tackle for ninth months, so we continue to learn things about him, and he learns things about playing the position. (We) keep coaching him, and keeping trying to day-by-day get him better."

Another Spartan who got his first start last week was center Travis Jackson. How did Staten feel about the redshirt freshman's performance?

"Once you sprain an ankle, that's a season-long injury," said Staten. "That thing is going to be tweaking here and there, probably for the whole year. He played hard (in the Central Michigan game), and probably your biggest improvement is from game one to game two. And with game two being down in his hometown, that will be exciting for him. He's a great leader for being such a young kid. In the huddle, once he gets in there, he changes; he has a lot of fun playing the game. He's able to make calls. I'm excited to watch him play this week."

Does Staten get the sense this weekend's game may have a little more meaning?

"Absolutely," said Staten. "It's opening the Big Ten season. We haven't had recent success against the Buckeyes. They've been on top of the Big Ten for quite a few years, so the players and us as coaches know this is a big game."


Dave Berk has followed Ohio High School football recruiting since the late 90's. In 2002 he joined Scout.com covering Ohio High School sports and football recruiting before moving over to cover The University of Cincinnati in 2005. In 2010 Dave was offered a chance to cover Michigan State (SpartanDigest.com) and Notre Dame (IrishEyes.com) as a football recruiting analyst. Over the years Dave has been a guest on several radio shows and appeared on College Football Now on the NFL Network. This fall Dave appears on Fox Sports Ohio's Southwest Ohio football telecats giving recruiting insight on players in the game. You can contact or follow Dave at the following.
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