Although the Michigan State Spartans had a disappointing season on the football field this year, middle linebacker Joe Bachie believes that the senior leadership from last year has put the team back on the path of success.
“We had great mentors in the seniors last year,” Bachie told Spartan Nation. “I just believe we’re going in the right direction.”
The first thing Bachie noted about the seniors was how they continually pushed him to improve his game as much as he can. Bachie has spent the offseason nitpicking his game during film sessions more than ever and has even bulked up to weighing 237 pounds for his sophomore year.
For Bachie, these film sessions have been vital as he continually looks to improve on his game moving forward. Although he might have made a mistake in the game, he reviews it and learns what he could have done better. It gives him a different perspective on what happened during the play and he can recognize if he took a bad first step toward the ball or was not physical enough.
“I’ve been watching more film and recognizing more things I did wrong during games and practice,” Bachie told Spartan Nation. “Whether it’s a bad first step or not exploding through a tackle.”
What is helpful about these film reviews is that the whole defensive unit watches them together and helps each other improve individually and therefore helps them improve as a defense. There are so many sets of eyes and different perspectives that they are able to point out all these small mistakes. Film becomes much more helpful when one can take as much from it as possible.
“It’s a defense thing,” Bachie said. “We watch film together and pick things out on each other.”
When it comes to Bachie, he said that his physicality is his greatest strength, but it also one of the things that can hold him back. Bulking up will provide great dividends for him, but he said he will need to make sure he refines his ability to shed blockers to he does not get swallowed up on plays with the increased size.
“I like how physical I am, but sometimes it hurts me when I’m trying to get off a block,” Bachie told Spartan Nation. “But I believe that my physicality helps me a lot.”
Spartan Nation got the chance to see how a few other players’ offseason were going from Bachie’s perspective.
The first player mentioned was the massive sophomore offensive tackle Cole Chewins who has earned a scholarship after being a walk-on in 2015. Chewins has something that no amount of film review can help teach; massive size. Chewins is a mountain of a man as he stands at 6-foot-8 and is listed at 278 pounds. Someone that size can find a spot or anchor nearly any offensive line across the country.
“Cole is special because of his size and you can’t teach size,” Bachie said. “It is always good to have someone long like that.”
Moving along the offensive line, Bachie spoke about the versatile senior lineman Brian Allen who has the ability to play either guard or center position. Not only can he move around the line, but he is quite skilled as he earned second-team All-Big Ten honors in 2015 and 2016. While he does not have the length of Chewins as he is only 6-foot-2, he is quite the force which is highlighted by his 305-pound frame. Bachie, who goes against Allen often in practice, noted how Allen’s great leverage makes him such a difficult blocker to get around.
“His leverage is so good,” Bachie told Spartan Nation. “When he comes at you he’s so low to the ground and so powerful. I think his wrestling background helps him a lot with that.”
Bachie touched on the powerful redshirt senior running back Gerald Holmes and how he has taken the torch from the seniors from last year and is developing into a major leader for the team. Senior leadership is vital to the success of any team and their impact on younger players will be felt long after they have moved on, just as Bachie said. Holmes is one of the eldest players on the team now and is transitioning into the role as leader for the upcoming season.
“I think this offseason [Holmes] has really taken a step forward as a leader,” Bachie told Spartan Nation. “He’s really trying to lead the team as a senior. I believe right now he’s doing all the right things. Coach preaches that the seniors have to have their best year.”
The other running back discussed with Bachie was redshirt junior Madre London whose speed and shiftiness acts as a foil and compliment to the powerful style Holmes provides. London has an explosiveness that is hard to match, especially if he gets in the open field. It is a much different change of pace from Holmes, but Bachie thinks he is a good piece to have going forward.
“Madre runs different from Holmes, but they both have their ways of getting things done,” Bachie told Spartan Nation. “I like Madre, I think he’s explosive and I know he has a powerful stiff arm.”
One of the most interesting story lines this off season is the development of redshirt sophomore quarterback Brian Lewerke who Spartan fans only briefly got to see in action last year after he suffered a broken tibia. Bachie noted just how difficult it is to defend a player like him as he can do so many things on the football field and how impressive his off season has been so far. Lewerke’s development will be quite interesting to see, especially if he is able to put his skills and smarts together.
“I believe [Lewerke] had a great spring,” Bachie told Spartan Nation. “As a defense, it’s hard to defend him as he can do so many things. He’s a smart player and a smart person.”
Stay tuned to Spartan Nation for more updates coming out of the off season for the Michigan State Spartans football team.