Five Questions: Spring Offense

We look at five early questions for the Michigan State football program on the offensive side of the ball as spring practice is just around the corner.

The early break in spring weather has everyone waiting on the start of spring football for the Michigan State Spartans.

Head coach Mark Dantonio and his staff have been preparing for one of the most important springs since the first year they arrived in East Lansing.

With back-to-back 11 win seasons behind them, many will expect the Spartans to take a step back in 2012 as they look to replace several key offensive starters.

Here are five questions that will need to be answered by the time the Spartans play the Green and White game at the end of April.

Question One: Can Andrew Maxwell show the leadership and on field abilities of departed quarterback Kirk Cousins?

The biggest question facing the Spartans when they begin spring practice will be the overall development of Maxwell. The Midland (MI) native has played in nine career games posting solid numbers (29-for-51) for 294 yards and one touchdown when given the chance.

Question Two: Can Le'Veon Bell continue his rise as one of the top running backs in the Big Ten?

Bell has spent the past two seasons as the back-up to Edwin Baker as he continued to progress on the field. With Baker now off to the NFL, Bell is the Spartans main back with all the pressure of being the starter squarely on his shoulders for the first time. How he responds in the spring to the added pressure will give an early glimpse of how well his junior season could go.

Question Three: Will the Spartans find an early group of offensive linemen to build a solid line?

The Spartans offensive line improved as the season progressed despite the loss of one of their better linemen Skyler Burkland early in the season. Gone is Joel Foreman who started 49 games during his Spartans career. Leadership will come from Chris McDonald who has played in 30 games during his career.

Young players must step up and continue showing their growth as Travis Jackson, Dan France and Fou Fonoti showed they have the ability to compete at a high level.

Question Four: Who will step up and replace the production at wide receiver from last season?

Just look at the Spartans final statistics for last season and it is easy to see the amount of production B.J. Cunningham, Keshawn Martin and Keith Nichol provided on the field. Combined the trio posted 171 (59% of teams totals) catches for 2,435 yards (69% of teams totals) and 19 touchdowns (73% of teams totals).

If DeAnthony Arnett is cleared by the NCAA in his hardship case the Spartans should be able to build a solid group of receivers by the time they take the field against Boise State.

Question Five: Can Dion Sims step up and show the ability to be a big-time producer from the tight end position?

Spartan fans have seen glimpses of Sims talent since he arrived on campus. With the loss of Brian Linthicum and Garrett Celek to graduation, Sims needs to take his game up a level and reach his full potential as he could be a major weapon come fall.

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