2013 Michigan State Spring Football Analysis
Michigan State Spartans 2013 ... Head Coach: Mark Dantonio
Why To Be Excited: Loaded, loaded, loaded. The Spartans were full of veterans last season, and while the 7-6 record might have been disappointing, five of the losses were by four points or fewer. The offense loses running back Le’Veon Bell and tight end Dion Sims early to the NFL, but eight starters are back including four on a good line. Pass rusher William Gholston might be done, but eight starters return to the Big Ten’s best defense. After ranking fourth in the nation, the potential is there for the D to be even better.
| 2013 Schedule|
8/31 Western Michigan
9/14 Youngstown State
9/21 at Notre Dame
9/28 OPEN DATE
10/5 at Iowa
10/26 at Illinois
11/9 OPEN DATE
11/16 at Nebraska
11/23 at Northwestern
Why To Be Grouchy: The O line might be terrific, and the defense might be nasty, and the passing game can’t help but be better, but can the team survive without Bell? He carried the offense to bail out one of the nation’s most inefficient passing games, and he’s going to be sorely missed with the smallish Nick Hill and junior Jeremy Langford needing to pick up the slack. It’s asking for the world for those two to combine to match Bell’s 1,793 rushing yards and 12 scores. Hill had the team’s only other rushing touchdown.
What Needs Working On: Can the receivers actually catch the ball, and is Andrew Maxwell going to be the one to throw it? It was the team’s Achilles’ heel last season, and it’s going to be the big concern and the big area of focus throughout spring ball. It wasn’t Maxwell’s fault that the passing game stunk – the receivers had an awful year – but a late drive in the win over Wisconsin was the only time he seemed able to find a groove. After completing just 6-of-15 passes for 28 yards against TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, he got the hook for Connor Cook, who led the way to the game-winning field goal but was miserable completing just 4-of-11 passes. To put it simply, the passing game has to be better.
Non-Conference Games: Western Michigan, USF, Youngstown State, at Notre Dame
Games Against The Leaders: at Illinois, Indiana, Purdue
Realistic Best Case Record: 11-1
Worst Case Record: 6-6
Likely Finish: 10-2
Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: Western Michigan, USF, Youngstown State, at Iowa, Indiana, Purdue, at Illinois, Michigan, at Northwestern, Minnesota
Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: at Notre Dame, at Nebraska
Schedule Analysis: Michigan State, you can’t ask for anything more in interdivisional play than a road trip to Illinois to go along with home dates against Indiana and Purdue. There’s no Ohio State, no Penn State and no Wisconsin. There are several road battles to deal with, but there are also enough scheduling breaks to hope for a second trip to the Big Ten championship in three years. But first, there’s a little fight with the Irish in South Bend to deal with at the end of the four-game non-conference September. Western Michigan will be pesky, Youngstown State won’t be a problem and South Florida could be a bit of a fight, but a win over Notre Dame should mean an 8-0 start before Michigan comes to East Lansing.
Going to Iowa shouldn’t be a problem coming off a bye, and taking care of Indiana, Purdue and a road trip against Illinois should be walks in the park for anyone with Big Ten championship ambitions. The season should come down to the three game stretch against the Wolverines and road trips to Nebraska and Northwestern after getting a week off. Closing the season out at home against Minnesota isn’t exactly like dealing with Ohio State.
Team Concerns For 2013: Catch the ball, catch the ball, catch the ball. The defense was phenomenal and the ground game bruising, but the passing attack was an anchor with the league's most inefficient passing attack despite throwing for 210 yards per game. Andrew Maxwell has to step up and become a steadier starting quarterback, but more than anything else, he needs his receivers to actually make the grabs and come up with more big plays. Replacing Le'Veon Bell is going to be tough for a ground game that carried the O at times, but if the passing attack starts to work a bit better, that will pick up the slack. Defensively, as good as the Spartans were finishing first in the league in most of top categories, the pass rush has to be better despite the early loss of William Gholston to the NFL.
The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Linebacker. It's going to be a tough time for Spartan fans with next door neighbor Michigan coming up with one of the greatest classes in the school's prestigious history. MSU has a few decent players coming in led by big bombing quarterback Damion Terry out of Pennsylvania and offensive tackle Dennis Finley from Detroit. Kicker Michael Geiger is a better get than it might appear, and running backs R.J. Shelton and Gerald Holmes will be brought along right away, but the class is mediocre - to be kind - unless the linebackers rock. Shane Jones was taken away from the other Big Ten big boys, while Jon Reschke will eventually be the team's leading tackler after he spends a few years beefing up in the weight room.
2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking:
29. That Class Was Heavy On ... Skill players. The Spartans have mostly gone after defensive prospects over the last few years, and it shows with few defensive linemen coming in this season. There’s a little something for all the skill spots with the emphasis on receiver, and head coach Mark Dantonio is bringing in some strong tight ends to play around with the offense. There aren’t any superstar prospects compared to what Michigan is getting, but it’ll be a good class full of variety.
2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 32. That Class Was Heavy On ... Defensive end. The Spartans didn’t exactly capitalize on its breakthrough co-Big Ten championship season – the overall class is mediocre - but they loaded up on the the defensive line with some nice-looking tackles and three phenomenal end prospects. Lawrence Thomas is a potential pass rushing terror on the outside and is the crown jewel of this class, while Joel Heath is a big, talented option. The young running backs corps got even stronger with Onaje Miller, a speedster who could add another element to the offense this year.
2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 29. That Class Was
Heavy On ... Diversity. The
Spartans got a little of everything with a
strength-in -numbers class. The best prospects are
OT Skyler Schofner, a big athlete who'll get a
chance to be the anchor up front soon, and DE
William Gholson, a big, fast, dream of a 3-4 end
when he grows into his 6-6 frame. Max Bullough will
get a yet to work behind Greg Jones, and next year
he could be the starting middle linebacker. Corner
Mylan Hicks is a lockdown coverman with the
athleticism and potential to erase just about any
Big Ten team's No. 1
2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 35. That Class Was
Heavy On ... linebackers and running backs. MSU’s early success under Mark Dantonio has come from a strong running game and athletic linebackers, and this class reflects that. Edwin Baker and Larry Caper are in to help try to replace Javon Ringer in the backfield, while Chris Norman and Tyquan Hammock are linebackers who can move. Norman, especially, was a coup for the program with the athleticism and toughness to be a star early on.