The 2016 season will open with many questions surrounding the Michigan State Spartans football program. The loss of several key players to graduation and the NFL Draft, mean there are open spots on the depth chart that need to be filled.
However, what are five key things the Spartans must do to have a successful year in 2016?
KEY #1: STABILITY AT QUARTERBACK
While Mark Dantonio didn’t go as far as to name Tyler O'Connor the team’s starting quarterback. It was easy to see from his performance in the spring that the fifth-year senior stepped ahead of the rest of the pack. O’Connor must now do it on the field and lead the team from the first day of camp and into the season opener.
KEY #2: WIDE RECEIVERS MUST STEP FORWARD
The loss of Aaron Burbridge is huge after his great senior year. Now, more than one young receiver must step forward and build solid chemistry with O’Connor early. Donnie Corley and Cameron Chambers both have the potential and their early enrollment should help them play a role this season. But others like fifth-year senior Monty Madaris must deliver on their high school promise.
KEY #3: FIND HELP ALONG THE DEFENSIVE LINE
The losses seem huge as Shilique Calhoun is now in the NFL and the program said goodbye to a couple of players for personal reasons. Malik McDowell is ready to have a major season but Evan Jones must step forward and young guys like Raequan Williams and Kyonta Stallworth need to be pushed by incoming freshmen Josh King, Naquan Jones, Mike Panasiuk and Auston Robertson.
KEY #4: REBUILD THE OFFENSIVE LINE
Three key players from last year’s offensive line have departed the program. Now experienced players like Benny McGowan, Brian Allen and Kodi Kieler must step forward and lead the way as Dennis Finley, David Beedle and others take their game up another level. There are numbers to work with but uncertainty among the group.
KEY #5: GET OFF TO FAST START
Getting things kicked off against Furman should allow for things to get a fast and solid start. But Notre Dame follows after a bye week giving the Spartans time to work out the kinks before facing the Irish. Wisconsin and Indiana follow and how the Spartans do in their first four games should give us a clue as to how this team will fare the rest of the season as there will be no rest for the Spartans the rest of the way.