Scott Reed - Spartan Digest

Michigan State has now seen injuries to three starters change their depth-chart. Can the Spartans survive these losses?

Injuries are part of the game of football and teams with high expectations usually hope to avoid the loss of any players during a season. Now ranked as the No. 2 team by the Associated Press, Michigan State has seen injuries chip away at several positions. Spartan Digest takes a look at some of these losses.

Sunday night came official word that Michigan State had lost starting redshirt freshman cornerback Vayante Copeland for the season with a fractured vertebra.  Copeland, suffered the injury during the Spartans win over Oregon but was still listed on the Spartans depth chart for Air Force.

Mark Dantonio has never been one to give out tons of information on injuries and the news on Copeland continues key personnel losses this season.  

How will these losses reflect on the field?  Spartan Digest looks at a couple of key injuries and the impact they’ll have going forward.

Vayante Copeland - The loss of Copeland is major as the Dayton, Ohio native had earned the praise of Spartans secondary coach Harlon Barnett in the spring and even more so in preseason camp as Copeland showed why the Spartans were so excited to earn his commitment in the 2014 recruiting class.  Spartan Digest named Copeland one of our difference makers in the spring so this one is a big loss.

Fifth-year senior Arjen Colquhoun replaced Copeland on Saturday and while the Falcons don’t provide a true test for any secondary, many feel Colquhoun struggled against Oregon and even some again on Saturday.  Also playing the position have been Darian Hicks a starter for most of last season who missed the majority of the preseason with mono and Jermaine Edmondson.  Going forward the Spartans could also look at freshman David Dowell and Josh Butler to get reps and experience.

Can MSU Survive This Loss?  Right now this looks like an injury that will hurt more than others so far this season.  Copeland would have been placed on some of the top receivers and showed against Oregon he was up for the task.  There is some depth, but there was a reason Copeland beat out two juniors in camp.

Kodi Kieler - Kieler was lost during the Oregon game and the Spartans handled the loss good on that night by making a few different moves that included moving Donavon Clark out to the right tackle position and bringing Benny McGowan in to play guard.  Another move saw Miguel Machado take over at tackle with Clark going back to guard.  However, Machado struggled against Oregon and did so again when brought in against Air Force.

The best move now is Clark at tackle until Kieler returns but keep an eye on what combinations the Spartan use at both right tackle and right guard as we feel McGowan struggled against Air Force on Saturday especially on pull plays and making the right decisions on who to block in pass-pro.  

Can MSU Survive This Loss?  Yes in the short run but if McGowan and Machado play the way they did on Saturday, the Spartans could have some issues.  We expect both players to improve but if they get in the heart of the Big Ten schedule without Kieler, we feel there should be some concerns.

Ed Davis - We add Davis to this article despite the fact the Spartans lost Davis early in preseason camp.  Losing Davis so early allowed the Spartans to make adjustments and move forward.  Davis brought leadership and experience to the SAM linebacker position, but the Spartans have built great depth at linebacker and the early play of Jon Reschke has been solid.

Can MSU Survive This Loss?  We have already seen the play of Reschke and Chris Frey fill the void and right now Spartan Digest does not feel this loss is an issue going forward.

STATUS UNKNOWN

Senior linebacker Darien Harris left Saturday’s game early being replaced by freshman Andrew Dowell.  Harlon Barnett stated after the game that Harris was already dinged up before the game and took a hit that knocked him out the rest of the day.  Dowell showed flashes that he’s ready for the challenge, but it’s in the best interest of the Spartans to get Harris back before Big Ten play begins in two weeks.


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