MSU mixes things up in search of more offense

Lacking in big plays through first four games, Michigan State shuffles the depth chart and continues to work on producing more in the red zone.

Fresh off a bye week, Michigan State still is in search of more from its offense and the search has led to more questions.

"Is it scheme? Is it players? It's a combination of everything when you look at things," coach Mark Dantonio said Tuesday as his weekly press conference.

The Spartans offense has yet to produce a play of 40 yards or more – the only team in the nation without such a play. Dantonio said MSU has to find a way to get explosive plays – something the staff has preached since early in the 2012 season.

"There is no question explosive plays are a factor and we're trying to create them and work towards them," he said. "I think our players are very capable of being able to make those plays."

Dantonio said it is clear that the Spartans need to find a way to score more points. He also emphasized red zone touchdowns being a necessity – something that was talked about heavily following MSU's 17-13 loss to Notre Dame on Sept. 21.

Dantonio said Tuesday that scoring those points in the red zone will require more precision.

"Everybody's got to be exact," he said. "From the linemen, to the blitz pick up, to the catch, to the throw, to the route, you've got to get loose and make plays down there.

"You can move it all the way down the field, but that's where you make your money down there in the red zone. We've just got to get that done."

Seeking answers, the latest MSU depth chart featured a few changes.

Junior wide receiver Tony Lippett moved up to a co-starter with sophomore Aaron Burbridge and senior wide receiver Bennie Fowler is listed as a co-starter with junior Keith Mumphery.

"I consider about six receivers as starters," Dantonio said. "I don't care who plays. Because a guy runs out to the starter on play No. 1 doesn't mean he's going to the play the most.

"It's just a roll them in, factor them in, give them opportunities and make plays."

Dantonio said he had been impressed with Lippett in the past few days and that Fowler had played in the past two games.

The Spartans also have shuffled return men as Nick Hill on kick return and Andre Sims Jr. haven't yielded the desired results. Sophomore MacGarrett Kings Jr, who took on both kick and punt return roles against Notre Dame, tops the depth chart.

Dantonio said Kings will start at punt return and the decision on kick return will be made later in the week.

Freshman R.J. Shelton is listed as the backup at kick return.


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