Coach Mark Dantonio said the senior had suffered an undisclosed injury and will miss an undisclosed amount of time, but did say it is not season-ending.
Dantonio said he is very comfortable moving Kieler into a starting spot.
”You could make a case for him being one of the top five and I think he’s had a very, very solid summer and very athletic big guy,” Dantonio said. “He’s tough, knows what to do. … We expected him to play anyways.”
The other move after the injury was that of junior Brandon Clemons sliding from defensive tackle to offensive guard to provide depth.
”He worked in the bowl game at guard so he’s not lost anything,” Dantonio said. “He’ll be a good player over there.”
While the timeframe around Kruse is up in the air, Dantonio did say “he’ll be back, sooner than later.”
”We’ve not lost Connor Kruse for the season,” he said. “So whether he makes the Oregon game or not, I’m not sure but we’ve not lost him for the season.”
He mentioned the possibility of moving senior James Kittredge to the offensive line as well.
”Kittredge started at center for Vanderbilt back when he was a freshman,” he said. “So that’s always a possibility that we could even go one more and put another guy over there with extensive experience on the offensive line.”
To redshirt or not to redshirt?
As the season opener against Jacksonville State is coming up, the Spartans are starting to figure out which freshman might play and which will not.
The most likely to play appear to be offensive lineman Brian Allen as well as some defensive linemen – most likely from the group of Malik McDowell, Craig Evans and Enoch Smith – while others are on the fringe.
“Brian Allen is in the two-deep on the offensive line,” Dantonio said. “I think (Montae) Nicholson’s flirting there in the two-deep at safety.
”Chris Frey is a guy that might show up on special teams. Those are probably the three guys right now that you’re saying.
”Madre (London) might show up as well and the defensive linemen, they are going to play. Those guys are going to play.”
As for Nicholson, who had been working at cornerback for much of the preseason camp, has been shifted back to safety.
”I think he could go back out there and play but we moved him in to safety,” Dantonio said. “He’s a big-bodied guy, he was one of the more productive players, actually, in the scrimmage at safety.”
Dantonio said Nicholson was moved back because of a couple of players being nicked up, but added he expects him to stay there.
”At this point in time. I think he can play any of those positions, personally, but he’s got to be able to play in and out,” he said. “Like I said before, he’s got to put plays behind each other. And I think it’s easier to do at safety – maybe not from a knowledge standpoint but from a physical standpoint – it’s easier to do at safety.”
He also said offensive tackle Miguel Machado will be in the mix to play.
Geiger on the mark
Dantonio said Geiger has been “money” in camp.
“From 50 in, he’s money,” he said. “He’s got the leg to get it there from 55. He might have missed two kicks in camp thus far so he’s been very, very good.
”We always grade our guys, is he winning, is he losing? There’s no average. Is he functional? Does he have a Big Ten championship grade? And Mike Geiger has had a Big Ten championship grade this camp.”
Missing running backs
The only running back stats given from the scrimmage were that of senior Nick Hill, who ran 10 times for 43 yards and a touchdown, and redshirt freshman Gerald Holmes, who had 11 attempts for 40 yards.
“Gerald’s been very solid,” Dantonio said. “All those running backs are solid. And really we held out Langford and Delton really because we wanted to see what the other three would do. Played Nick Hill a little bit.
”We really wanted to see what our younger guys could do.”