Kirk Cousins is the man! Undisputed starter and the leader of the offense. Ready to build on the experience of last season and has the weapons around him to have a big season.
Larry Caper is now 220 lbs. of solid muscle. He has surprising speed for his size and can break tackles (see overtime TD run vs. UM last year). He will be much better this year at reading his blocks and really exploding into the hole. He is the best pass blocker of any of the RB's. He has shown that he has the speed to get downfield as a receiver on the deep wheel route out of the backfield. The concern is that his right hand is broken and he will play in a cast to start the season.
Edwin Baker is a big play waiting to happen from anywhere on the field with his tremendous speed and burst at the line of scrimmage. Very powerful for his size and can carry tacklers, especially DB's, for extra yards. Not necessarily, an elusive runner but he has good vision and if he finds a seam, he will take it to the house.
LeVeon Bell is MSU's biggest RB @ 230 lbs. Early entry as a Fr. really helped him get bigger and stronger and gain experience in the offense. He has really showed up as a pretty good receiver out of the backfield. He could develop into the kind of tough, short yardage runner that every team needs. He will see PT as a true freshman.
Nick Hill will most likely be red-shirted unless, God forbid, there are a rash of injuries at the RB position.
Larry Caper and Edwin Baker will share the majority of the carries with LeVeon Bell getting some chances.
Josh Rouse, a 5th year Sr. is the experienced starter.
Fred Smith has been a pleasant surprise in preseason camp after moving to FB from WR. He has shown he is a good receiver out of the backfield and will cause match-up problems for opposing LB's. His run blocking is still a question mark, but he is improving. Look for him sneaking out of the backfield in goal line situations.
Keshawn Martin is the "do everything" guy. KR, PR, Wildcat QB, end arounds, reverses. etc. He has improved as a receiver and is always a threat to make big plays. He is fast and elusive in the open field and a nightmare for the opposition to tackle. Look for him to lead the B10 in all-purpose yards this season, maybe even the Nation.
Mark Dell is one of the best athletes on the team and the best "pure" WR. He has been inconsistent throughout his career and suffered some nagging injuries. Sometimes WR's are like thoroughbreds in that the slightest injury can keep them from performing at a high level. He is a big time talent and if he can put it all together, he could have a breakout Sr. year.
B. J. Cunningham is big and fast and has made some spectacular catches and dropped some easy ones. If he can become more consistent catching the ball this season, he will be a real threat in the passing game.
Keith Nichol, physically and athletically, he reminds me of former Spartan great, Kirk Gibson. That is a pretty tough comparison to live up to but Keith has that kind of potential. He is still learning the nuances of being a WR but he has a terrific work ethic and wants to improve on every aspect of his game. He will improve as a WR this season and should really come on next season as a Sr. Look for the staff to have some special plays for him this season ala Keshawn Martin. He is the # 3 QB and is still getting about 20 % of the snaps @ QB.
Bennie Fowler is the fastest player on the team and the staff will have some special plays in for him such as WR screens and end arounds. Injuries have slowed his development as a WR but will be a contributor this season. He is elusive in the open field and with his tremendous speed he just glides away from defenders and is a threat to go all the way anytime. His running style kind of reminds me of Gayle Sayers.
WR is one of the strongest positions on the team.
Tight Ends :
Charlie Gantt has improved every year. He is the best blocker of the TE's. He is sneaky fast at 260 lbs. and has shown the ability to get deep down the seam and stretch the defense.
Dion Sims is an impressive athlete for his size and like Gantt, he can get down the seam and stretch the defense. He has good hands and just needs to continue to improve as a blocker.
Garrett Celek is the 2nd best blocker among the TE's. He has good hands but not known for his speed. He will be a valuable blocker in short yardage and goal line situations.
Brian Linthicum is still recovering from a knee injury and no timetable has been set for his return. He is the fastest TE and probably has the best hands of all the TE's. He can stretch the defense down the seams and catch the ball deep almost like a wide receiver.
Tight end is also one of the strongest positions on the team.
Offensive Line :
This has been one of the biggest concerns going into the season. Here's a look at the starters first going into the WMU game.
LT - D. J. Young was an OK RT, but he seemed to lack the physical attributes needed to be the powerful run blocker teams like at the RT spot. However, his game transfers well to the left side where athleticism to counter the speed rush on the blind side is vital. He's going to be an upgrade over Rocco Cironi who was actually playing throughout last season with a shoulder injury. He is more physical in run blocking than Cironi was and he appears to be more agile. He has got his weight down to 298 lbs. to help his quickness against the speed rushers that other teams line up on the QB's blind side. He should give this position a boost vs. last year.
LG - Joel Foreman has been solid ever since he broke into the starting lineup as a red-shirt Fr. Some feel that he played better as a RS Fr. than he did last year as Soph. He is MSU's best OL and has really worked hard to get ready for this season. He should really be a force this year on the OL. Maybe not dominant but he will be very effective and consistent throughout the year.
C - John Stipek played well in limited duty last year. Has got down to 285 lbs. to improve his quickness. Coach Dantonio calls him the most improved player on the team. Expect him to be a solid but not spectacular, similar to Nitchman last year and maybe a little better because he is bigger than Nitchman was.
RG - Chris McDonald will be an improvement over Brendon Moss from last year. Chris is bigger, stronger and much more athletic than Moss. He has the speed to pull out as a blocker on sweeps and traps and also to get downfield to the second level. He just needs playing experience as he has the size, strength, speed, and athleticism you are looking for.
RT - J' Michael Deane should be an improvement over Young in run blocking at this position. The question is, how good will he be at pass protection? He does not have to be as good as Young was at pass blocking. Typically, the defensive end on the strong side isn't as serious of a pass rushing threat, but he still needs to be effective. For right now, this appears to be a push from last year overall. The running game should be better because the right tackle is important to the running game and Deane will be an improvement as a run blocker.
Back-up OL :
LG - Ethan Ruhland will get reps and some needed PT in the early games.
C - Nate Klatt will get PT early in the season and be ready to start in 2011.
RG - Micajah Reynolds is back at his more natural position of OG. PT in the early games will really help him and he will continue to push Chris McDonald.
I do think that the 2010 OL will be better than the 2009 OL. It will be bigger and more athletic than the 2009 OL and should be a better run blocking line but the question is pass protection and just plain inexperience. The 2011 OL should be even better with a year of experience and some talented young players ready to contribute.
OFFENSE QUICK SUMMARY:
Skill positions are loaded, especially WR and TE. RB depth is thin but there is talent there. Experienced QB will be a positive. Question, so goes the OL, so goes the Offense? This Offense should be a scoring machine!