Duffy Carpenter, Spartan Nation

New twists, changes, tweaks & what to watch for in the MSU spring game!

New twists, changes, tweaks & what to watch for in the MSU spring game!

New twists, changes, tweaks & what to watch for in the MSU spring game!

 

As the Michigan State Spartans take the field on Saturday for the annual Green and White game, things will be different.  No I am not referring to the off field allegations or Mark Dantonio’s decision to shut down the spring to media coverage.  I am actually talking about the game itself.

Spartan Nation has learned from sources in the Spartan athletic department and football program that while Mark Dantonio has in every previous season as the head of Spartan football held a spring draft of players conducted by his seniors, that will not happen this year.

With three players suspended for the aforementioned sexual assault charges and other players suspended and those that are injured, that was not something that was feasible this year.  So this year it will be the present first team defense against the first team offense and second defense against the second team offense and the subsequent other participants.  The teams will still be divided into green and white.  The first team Spartan defense will be wearing white and the first team offense will be wearing green.  Offense won the last scrimmage that is why they get to wear white, but I was told, "That could change, but I am not expecting it to based on precedent.

So with that established here are some key things to watch if you are going to the game or watching on television.

  • By every account Michigan State QB Brian Lewerke has had an amazing spring.  His “spin” on the football has been great and while not taking hits, he has shown flashes of his undervalued athleticism.  He will not be “live” on Saturday, but his leadership is unquestioned and this is his team.

  • What players are missing?  While many will of course be trying to identify the three suspended players (I can’t imagine everyone doesn’t know who they are by now), there are other suspended and injured players that Mark Dantonio has not identified and those are key to watch for this team heading into a crucial off season.

  • Hunter Rison has by all accounts shined.  In the past Mark Dantonio has chosen in the spring game NOT to show off new players that could be a key in the fall so as to not tip his hand for upcoming opponents.  Does he hide Rison or turn the young star loose?

  • Spartan Nation has already reported via multiple people that LJ Scott has been injured and not practiced this spring.  Madre London and Gerald Holmes have carried the ball and while both have done well according to multiple people, London has shine.  It is hard to gauge in a spring game, but that will be fun to see.

  • I will be watching closely the tight end position.  Matt Sokol finally gets his shot as the man and redshirt freshman Noah Davis will certainly compete for some reps.  But don’t rule out early enrollee Jack Camper who has also got rave reviews this off season.

  • Defensive line is in bad shape.  Mike Panasiuk and Raequan Williams are two solid anchors. I know that they worked on more 3-4 this year than in the past, but just like with Rison I doubt they would show much.  Kenny Willekes and Dillon Alexander have had time at the ones and I want to see how they perform. 

  • At linebacker the starters in the fall are Chris Frey and Andrew Dowell on the outside and Joe Bachie at the middle.  The only spot that could be competitive is Dowell’s and Tyriq Thompson has had a nice spring.  With a very suspect defensive line, that makes the linebackers significantly more important.

  • Position changes and experiments.  Every spring Mark Dantonio likes to tinker.  Does he move some guys around to create some pressure or to fill some roles?  We will see.

  • Offensive line has holes, but it also has talent.  Cole Chewins was impressive last year and as one MSU athletic staffer told me, “He gets better every practice.”  Brian Allen is an NFL talent and star.  Tyler Higby if healthy will be solid and those three should be shoe ins for the starters.  Matt Allen is young, but very talented, AJ Arcuri and Luke Campbell will fight for time and don’t forget other returners as well.

  • Lastly the Spartans defensive backfield has holes.  Early enrollee freshman Josiah Scott is a baller.  He has made some great plays according to multiple people.  Who else steps up?  Can Vayante Copeland get back to his old self?  Who else can step up and take a spot?  Should be fun.


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