Stoutland piecing together offensive line

"It's one thing after another. You wish you could keep some guys healthy out there so that you could get some more rotation and some more plays. I think that would help us. We have some guys that are banged up. We need to get healthy." --MSU offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland

EAST LANSING - Michigan State offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland is trying to piece together an offensive line for the Spartans upcoming contest against Ohio State.

Stoutland says the injuries are playing havoc with his unit, but he gives his kids tremendous credit for their willingness to get on the field.

"I'm very fortunate, believe me when I tell you this, I've got a group of guys - some of them, sometimes, shouldn't even be out at practice," said Stoutland. "I say 'hey what are you..' and they're like 'hey I'm ready to go'. They're not looking for excuses not to practice, they're not looking for excuses not to play, it's the other way." "I'm proud of those guys for that, they come every day to work and they really care about this University and they really care about this football program," he said.

Stoutland said it has been very frustating to watch players continually getting banged up, especially on the left side of the lineup.

The Spartans started with Peter Clifford at the left guard, but after he suffered a knee injury moved to Kenny Shane, but Shane was injured and State had to move center Kyle Cook to left guard and start John Masters at center. Clifford is listed as the starter on the MSU depth chart for the Ohio State game.

"It was good to have Kenny Shane come back because we were back to the "Pittsburgh" rotation a little bit, but then Kenny got hurt again. It's one thing after another. You wish you could keep some guys healthy out there so that you could get some more rotation and some more plays. I think that would help us. We have some guys that are banged up. We need to get healthy."

Stoutland said that even the younger guys like Rocco Cironi, Mike Bacon and Brendon Moss are willing to step up and give it a shot.

"The younger guys - they're like 'coach if you need me I'm here', and I'm talking about some of the real young guys, they're like 'if you need me coach, just call my name, I'm ready to go.' They're putting a lot of time into learning. It's taking some of the younger players and forcing them to learn faster and develop faster."

Stoutland says Ohio State defense hasn't lost much, even after losing several players, including top-10 linebacker A.J. Hawk to the pros.

"People talk about the linebackers that played last year and how great they were - and they were. You watch these linebackers here and that nickle player, number 14 [Antonio Smith]."

Ohio State is led by sophomore middle linebacker James Laurinaitis with a team high 50 tackles and four interceptions. Sophomore stong side linebacker Marcus Freeman and fifth-year senior weak side linebacker John Kerr.

"They're taking a back seat because of the players they had last year, but there's not much fall off between those guys, I'm gonna tell you right now. You watch how fast they run for big guys, that's why they're the number one rated team in the country right now, because I don't think they've fallen off at all. You look at their statistics and what they've done on third downs and points allowed in the game and all that - I don't know if they've fallen off at all."

MSU's starting group of Gyetvai, Clifford, Cook, Roland Martin and Jesse Miller will need to come up with a superior effort to stalemate the #1 Buckeyes and jump start the sputtering MSU offense.


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