SpartanDigest Mailbag: July 25

Answering your questions about Michigan State football, basketball and recruiting!

What are your expectations of Lawrence Thomas this season?

It is hard to say what to expect from Thomas. If he is healthy, he is probably a very good third defensive end – but we also have not seen much of him at that spot yet. What we know is he has been talked about as a freak athlete and someone who the Spartans want to get on the field. If he is healthy and ready to go, I expect him to be a key part of the defensive line rotation and a guy that could be valuable on the interior of the line as well.

Give a best case/worst case analysis of how the Spartans' season could go.

The best case is Michigan State goes to Oregon in the second week and the new defensive starters are ready and they shut down the Ducks, while the offense does enough to win. The Spartans use that momentum – and nice home games against Ohio State, Nebraska and Michigan – to roll into the playoff as one of the top four teams. And, what the heck, Connor Cook wins the Heisman – you said best case, right?

Worst case, the Spartans lose to Oregon, are upset at home by Michigan and lose to Ohio State and Nebraska. The Spartans struggle on the road at Maryland and Penn State, losing one of the games, and finishing 7-5.

As for beyond the schedule what could make a worst case scenario is a big injury, which the Spartans avoided last year. If Jack Conklin, Trae Waynes, Shilique Calhoun or someone of that nature goes down, that is a big issue for MSU.

How confident are you that Connor Kruse will come out of summer drills as the starter for the season opener?

I think Kruse has a nice chance to be a starter, but I think Michigan State’s best offensive line is with Kodi Kieler at right tackle and Donavon Clark at right guard – assuming both have continued improvements. Just like Jack Conklin gave MSU a true left tackle last year, Kieler would give the Spartans a true right tackle and a pair of bookends for three seasons. Kruse, to me, is best suited to be the sixth offensive lineman as someone who can play four of the five spots.

Of the 22 guys listed atop the depth chart as we left spring practice, what positions have the greatest likelihood of a current non-starter grabbing the starting job? OG? WR? SS? MLB?

Well, as I said above, I think Clark could be better suited for right guard to start than Kruse – even though Clark was basically a starter this spring at right tackle.

I like Taiwan Jones holding on to the MIKE spot and I also think R.J. Williamson will be the guy at strong safety – even though the depth of Demetrious Cox and Jalyn Powell is as good as it gets.

At wide receiver, I think Tony Lippett will be one of the starters, but the other spot(s) could be taken by anyone. You have to like what Michigan State has in R.J. Shelton, Keith Mumphery and Co.

Who is not going to redshirt this year?

I look to the defensive line for immediate contributors. Craig Evans and Malik McDowell are where the list starts, but Enoch Smith could factor in as well. It will be hard to keep a Montae Nicholson off the field early, too, because of his game changing ability. The nice thing for the Spartans is the depth that has been built allows them to not need to play many right away and they can afford to redshirt as they please.

If Damion Terry is completely healthy from the spring game injury that he sustained, will Coach Dantonio risk playing him at another position on offense (wide receiver or running back) to get him some playing time or is he to important for the future of this football team at quarterback to jeopardize anymore?

Terry is super talented with the ball in his hands, as you saw in the spring game. He surely looks like the quarterback of the future, but he also is a player that can be a key part of the Michigan State offense right now. I think he does play in those capacities seen in the spring game through the season and probably with some more wrinkles.

Heard McKee's visit was postponed until August. Do you feel MSU is still a likely destination?

Hey! A recruiting question! I do feel that Michigan State sits well with McKee. Given his former teammate Robert Bowers is a freshman at MSU and the way MSU plays, I think their chances.

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