The weight has been needed as the Green and White have kept Long as a defensive end. Coming to Michigan State, Long projected as a linebacker, but due to his versatility and MSU's needs, he has remained in the trenches.
Size in terms of Long's height—it should be of benefit to the defense. From crowding passing lanes to swatting balls mid-flight, Long's wingspan has the potential to not only squash third-and-longs, but is a threat to create surprising turnovers as well.
If you play on the D-line in the Big Ten, and you weigh in the 250's or under, you better have skills. Head coach Mark Dantonio has lauded the junior's athleticism, and Long will have to use all the talent and technique he can muster to excel against some of the heftier O-lines in the Big Ten.
- Are Long and the Spartan's as a whole undersized on the line?
Simply, yes. However, Dantonio has a history of doing nothing but improving the defense of the team he coaches. While game planning cannot solve the size problems completely, Dantonio's prior coaching experiences in the Big Ten should go a long way toward dealing with it.
- Will Long return fully healthy?
A shoulder injury limited Long's participation in spring. So far, he is on track to return for the start of the season.
The D-line depth chart continues to evolve and will be solidified in August. For Long, the new defensive scheme should allow him to utilize his speed in zone blitzes. He should not only find success rushing the passer, but look for him to drop into coverage as well, with Kaleb Thornhill or SirDarean Adams speeding by on a blitz.
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