FOOTBALL:Top Five Questions Heading Into Fall

Answers to the most important questions facing the Green and White as the Spartans prepare for the gridiron heading into the fall.

1) What positions are most vulnerable to injury?
Without a doubt, the quarterback position is at the top of this list. Many aren't even sold on talented starter Brian Hoyer, and he's at least played in a college game. Both lines are vulnerable as well. The offensive line has been hit hard by injuries in the recent past, and left tackle Mike Gyetvai is recovering from a shoulder injury. Gyetvai should be a key asset in the running game. The D-line is just thin, with Justin Kershaw sliding inside from defensive end due to a lack of depth at tackle.

2) Who will be the backup QB?
After a strong spring game, Connor Dixon leads a wide-open race for the number two spot. He will compete with improving walk-on Clay Charles and a pair of incoming freshman: Nick Foles and Kirk Cousins. Dixon has the edge now, but this position battle will be one to watch.

3) Will Hoyer be a top-tier Big Ten quarterback?
Coming out of a tradition of excellence at St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, OH, Hoyer was a highly regarded recruit. Despite the daunting task of filling the cleats of a talented star like Drew Stanton, Hoyer appears ready for the limelight. If the Spartans are to be successful, Hoyer should have the passing game set up by a productive running game. Even mediocre quarterbacks excel when they have the luxury of a hesitant defense. Hoyer could surprise.

4) How will the defense respond to the new philosophy?
One thing the defense has going for it is speed. For all its faults, John L. Smith's convoluted defense did emphasize speed. While the Dantonio-Narduzzi 4-3 scheme will be more straight-up than the Smith system, it will still utilize speed. Zone blitzing requires quick acceleration, and teams that blitz often need good speed to help compensate for poor tackling angles.

5) Will the Spartans continue take stupid penalties?
Little aggravates fans and coaches more than seeing that bean-weighted flag soar through the air moments after the play has been whistled dead. For far too long the Green and White have been at least partly defined by yellow hankies. So far, the Dantonio regime has said all the right things: character is important and discipline is stressed. But, as always, the players are responsible for this issue, and only time will tell if this squad is ready to compete at a championship level.

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