April 9, 2010

V-Cast: Comp and PK on spring football developments

EAST LANSING - Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio met with members of the Spartan press corps for 11 minutes prior the start of Thursday's practice and also made players available for interviews after practice for the first time since spring football began two weeks ago.

After practice and interviews were over SpartanMag.com staffers Jim Comparoni and Paul Konyndyk shared their thoughts on all of the day's developments in the latest SpartanMag.com V-Cast.







Listed below are a handful of the topics discussed in the latest V-Cast:

  • Emphasis on the running game: Last fall, Michigan State was playing with two true freshmen running backs, an offensive line that appeared more suited to pass-blocking than run blocking, and featured a quality Big Ten quarterback with a strong group of receivers. The Spartans went with their strength and led their conference in passing for much of the season. In 2010, Michigan State should have an equally strong passing attack, but the Spartans are looking to get back to running the football with authority. Michigan State's offensive linemen claim that they are a much-better run blocking group this spring than they were last fall. Spartan running backs are also a year older and more knowledgeable than they were last year as first-year players who had the difficult task of making up for the production lost when Javon Ringer was taken in the NFL draft by the Tennessee Titans.
    Comp and PK discuss the potential areas of improvement for Michigan State and the players that figure into the mix for giving the Spartans a more potent and consistent rushing attack.

  • Several young players showing promise: Michigan State was a young team last year and the Spartans will play a lot of underclassmen this year as well. The Spartans will likely get a significant boost from members of the Top 15 2009 recruiting class. Most of the half-dozen or so players from the 2009 class that saw the field last fall have shown improvement this spring. And several of the players from 2009 that sat out as red-shirt freshmen last fall will have an opportunity to fight their way into the two-deep or perhaps even into starting roles.

  • The Keith Nichol Experiment: Dantonio says that former Lowell star Keith Nichol is one of 14 or so players that he wants on the field making plays on offense. Nichol is not in a position to do that at quarterback given the fact that Kirk Cousins has established himself as one of the top young quarterbacks in the nation as a sophomore stepping into the void left by the graduation of New England Patriots back-up Brian Hoyer. After spending bowl practice at wide-out and playing the position in the Alamo Bowl, Nichol is taking 80 percent of his reps with the wide receivers and 20 percent at quarterback. The experiment of Nichol moving to wide receiver appears to be working out well for Michigan State.
    Comparoni and Konyndyk share their observations on Nichol's development as well as a couple of other new faces in the Spartan receiving corps that appear poised to make some noise on the field this fall. Bennie Fowler was the most impressive of the red-shirt freshmen receivers during the portions of practice members of the media were allowed to watch on Thursday. Donald Spencer also looked good catching the ball in space and running through contact.

  • Competition on the offensive line: Offensive line development is vital to program growth and spring football is a crucial time for the guys in the trenches. Red-shirt freshman Henry Conway was having a good spring, but will sit out the remainder of the spring practice session after an undisclosed injury. Conway was one of the players fighting for playing time at tackle and doing a nice job of it. The loss of Condway hurts the Spartans up front a bit, but Michigan State still has a quality pool of talented offensive linemen to work with.

    Comparoni and Konyndyk discuss the loss of Conway for the rest of spring as well as some of the players that are making the most of their spring practice reps. Among the more intriguing storylines is the emergence of Antonio Jeremiah, a converted defensive lineman. Jeremiah and Chris McDonald are neck-and-neck in a competition to take over the right guard position. Zach Hueter, Ethan Ruhland, Nate Klatt, Jared McGaha, and John Deyo were each mentioned as players that have taken significant strides in their development after Thursday's practice.

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