2007 Michigan State Preview - Offense

Posted Jun 18, 2007

Preview 2007 Michigan State Spartan Offense

Michigan State Spartans

Preview 2007 - Offense

- 2007 Michigan State Preview | 2007 MSU Defense Preview
2007 MSU Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Michigan State Preview 

What you need to know: In keeping with the overall belief system of the new coaching staff, the offense will try to become more physical and should play to the strength, which will be running the ball. The line is big, and now has to start hitting to open things up for the speedy duo of Javon Ringer and A.J. Jimmerson and the pounding Jehuu Caulcrick. All eyes will be on Brian Hoyer, who might not be Drew Stanton talent-wise, but should be a more consistent quarterback as long as the receiving corps, which loses the top three targets, becomes productive right away.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Brian Hoyer
82-144, 863 yds, 4 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Javon Ringer
86 carries, 497 yds, 1 TD
T.J. Williams
25 catches, 281 yds, 3 TD

Star of the offense: Junior RB Javon Ringer
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior QB Brian Hoyer
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR T.J. Williams
Best pro prospect: Senior TE Kellen Davis
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Ringer, 2) Davis, 3) OT Mike Gyetvai
Strength of the offense: Running backs, offensive line size
Weakness of the offense:
Quarterback depth, proven wide receivers


Projected Starter
Junior Brian Hoyer won't run like Drew Stanton, he won't make all the same plays, and he won't get the NFL scouts drooling, but he could turn out to be a more effective player. He's 6-2 and 212 pounds with good smarts and a nice enough arm to make every throw needed, and he won't have to carry the attack like Stanton did. He'll have to keep the chains moving, limit mistakes, and he'll have to be steady, not necessarily spectacular. He showed a little bit of what he could do at the end of last year throwing for 330 yards and a score, with two interceptions, against Minnesota and 291 yards and a touchdown against Penn State, but the Spartans lost both games.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-4, 191-pound redshirt freshman Connor Dixon will combine with sophomore Clay Charles for the number two job, with Dixon the likely top backup. The two will battle all year long for playing time, but the starting gig is clearly Hoyer's for the next two seasons.

Watch Out For ... Keith Nichol. The superstar recruit was all but signed, sealed and delivered to the Spartans, and then he did an about-face and decided to go to Oklahoma. He would've provided some serious competition for Hoyer, who now is the unquestioned number one.
Strength: Hoyer's steadiness. It was almost like the old coaching staff wasn't totally sure what to do with Stanton. He was too good to not have developed into a more special player. Hoyer is going to be an even-keel quarterback who won't get MSU beat.
Backups. Dixon and Charles have gotten more than their share of off-season snaps, but neither one appears to be much of a challenger for anything more than backup duty. There's a big drop-off if Hoyer goes down.
Outlook: There was absolutely no pressure on Hoyer when he got his chances last year, but that changes completely going into this year. While he might not have to throw for 300 yards a game for MSU to succeed, he has to be good. He has the arm and the command, and now he has to be good.
Rating: 6.5

Running Backs

Projected Starters
5-9, 202-pound junior Javon Ringer appeared on the way to a monster season, and then he suffered a knee injury against Illinois and was out for several games. He chose to rehab rather than have surgery, but he wasn't nearly the same back over the final three games. Before the injury, he has 4.4 speed with the home run hitting ability to strike from anywhere on the field. Even after missing several games, he led the team with 497 yards and a score and caught 14 passes for 96 yards and a touchdown. While he has power, he's never been used as a workhorse, never getting more than 18 carries, but he looked as good as new this spring and should be used even more.

Former tight end Dwayne Holmes, who caught three passes for 27 yards, is a big, physical 275 pounds and should be a strong blocker. The junior was a good high school running back and linebacker, and while he might not see many carries, he'll get the ball his way a few times here and there.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-0, 255-pound senior Jehuu Caulcrick filled in when Ringer got hurt, but he didn't exactly carry the running game with only 426 yards and a team-leading six scores. He's a power back who's the thunder to Ringer's lightning, and he should be a killer when the offense wants to pound the ball with the new emphasis on running the ball. The former linebacker will be great around the goal line.

Sophomore A.J. Jimmerson is a speed back who needs the ball more in space. Fourth on the team with 140 yards and two scores, and only a 3.8 yard-per-carry average, along with 12 catches for 63 yards and two scores, he could become a bit of a third down back and be used more as a receiver with good hands and the quickness to make something happen on his own.

Watch Out For ... a lot more work to be passed around. Brian Hoyer isn't the runner Drew Stanton was, so expect more carries, more responsibility, and more production.
Strength: Options. Ringer and Caulcrick are a perfect 1-2 combination that'll give defenses several different looks. Jimmerson can come in and add even more speed and flash.
Ringer's workload. He's had two career knee injuries and he's never been the type of back who can carry the offense with a 25-carry game. The ground game all but shut down once he got hurt last year, and even with Jimmerson looking better, there might be problems if the knee fails.
Outlook: The veteran backs should be licking their chops at the prospect of getting more work. The offense will be more balanced, and the coaching staff wants to run and run some more to set up the passing game. With the expected improvement of the line, the chances will be there for a big season from all three top backs as long as they stay healthy. Using a fullback for the first time in several years, MSU will have even more options in the backfield.
Rating: 8


Projected Starters: This is the team's biggest issue after losing the top three receivers. 5-11, 173-pound senior Terry Love was fifth on the team with 18 catches for 234 yards, and now he has to be consistent along with being dangerous. He's fast enough to stretch the field and provide the deep threat to open things up for the running game, and he should be good enough to get the ball in a variety of ways to utilize his athleticism.

6-1, 199-pound junior Deon Curry only caught one pass for seven yards, and now has to use his size, athleticism, and 4.5 speed to take over for Matt Trannon. He's a deep threat who has the potential to blow up and live up to his prep hype.

With the question marks at receiver, the veteran tight ends have to play up to their talent, especially 6-6, 254-pound senior Kellen Davis. He has all the potential in the world with size, strength, speed, and the skill to become a top NFL draft pick. However, he hasn't made it happen yet with only 12 catches for 125 yards and a score last year, and he hasn't been much of a blocker. If the light turns on, he'll be a star.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-3, 184-pound sophomore T.J. Williams is the team's leading returning receiver with 25 catches for 281 yards and three scores. He didn't have a dominant breakout performance, but he was steady over the second half of the season. He'll start out the year combining with Curry, and he'll be a key player in three-wide sets. He has a great motor with the type of attitude that should make him into a number one target in time.

Behind Love, and adding more size, is 6-2, 214-pound junior Devin Thomas, who has talent, but only caught six passes for 90 yards and a score. The former JUCO transfer was a nice reserve who should flourish once he gets more playing time.

Behind Davis at tight end is 6-4, 246-pound senior Eric Andino, who caught two passes for 15 yards. He'll be a good blocker and should be used more in the passing game. He's not anywhere near the athlete that Davis is, but he can play a bigger role in the passing game.

Watch Out For ... the incoming freshmen. The veteran returning receivers aren't all that bad, but Mark Dell, Chris D. Rucker and B.J. Cunningham are all going to be key targets over the next few seasons. In a perfect world, they'll redshirt, but at least one should see time in the rotation.
Strength: Tight end. Davis might look like Tarzan and play like Jane, but he has the talent to grow into something special if the coaching staff can light a fire under him. Andino is going to become a nice, reliable receiver in time.
A true number one. There are good prospects, and Love and Williams have number one receiver potential, but there isn't anyone who's emerged as a dangerous target who'll keep defensive coordinators awake at night.
Outlook: The overall roles of the receivers will be reduced with more of an emphasis on the running game, but that that doesn't mean the passing game will be forgotten about. Considering the Spartans lose Kerry Reed, Matt Trannon and Jerramy Scott, the corps should be fine. Everyone can move and everyone should be able to rack up yards after the catch. The key will be to find reliable third down receivers who can not only get open on key plays, but also block downfield to open things up a bit.
Rating: 6

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters: Everything should come together once 6-7, 307-pound senior Mike Gyetvai is back from a shoulder problem that kept him out of spring ball. A good veteran who has seen time at both tackle spots, he's the line's best pass protector, when healthy, and an imposing force who should be better now that he gets to be more physical.

Next to Gyetvai will be 6-7, 316-pound senior Pete Clifford, a veteran backup who hasn't lived up to his enormous potential. He's big, tough, and versatile, able to play either guard or tackle if needed. He moved in at left tackle this spring when Gyetvai was out.

The other new full-time starter will be at center, where 6-4, 285-pound senior John Masters should be ready to roll after filling in as the starter over the final three games of last year. A long-time backup, he's been around long enough to be a good quarterback up front, and he should be strong in the running game.

The right side is set with the return of juniors Roland Martin and Jesse Miller to their starting spots. They both took their lumps throughout last year, but they have immense potential and could grow into fringe all-stars before their careers are up. The 6-5, 325-pound Martin should be a dominator at right guard. A star recruit for the program a few years ago, he has yet to live up to the hype and needs to be more consistent, but he has all the measurables. The 6-6, 307-pound Miller emerged and played well enough to allow Gyetvai to stay at left tackle throughout the season. He has a world of upside.

Projected Top Reserves: The Spartans have a few good backups who saw time after all the injuries that hit last year. The most experienced of the bunch is sophomore Rocco Cironi, who filled in at tackle and earned Big Ten All-Freshman accolades with two starts and plenty of backup work. He's 6-6, 300 pounds, and tough at left tackle behind Gyetvai.

6-5, 325-pound senior Kenny Shane is a nice reserve who filled in at left guard this spring when Clifford moved over to tackle. He started in three games last season, and while he's not the best of pass blockers, he's physical and can get after defenders to open up holes.

Watch Out For ... the right side to grow into something special over the next few years. Martin and Miller are big, talented prospects who are just now coming into their own. They should flourish under the new regime.
Strength: Size. Now this is a Big Ten-sized line. Very tall, very big, and very promising, the beef is there to power the ball the way the coaching staff wants.
Pass protection. As much as everyone will want to run this year, the line will still need to be better in pass protection after allowing 28 sacks and a ton of other pressures. More consistency should come as long as everyone is healthy.
Outlook: Every offensive lineman worth his salt wants to hit defenders in a power running game. Now the offense will fit the personnel, as Mike Dantonio will look to use all the size and strength up front to power the ball a bit more. This is a veteran group that'll be much better than it'll initially get credit for.
Rating: 7


Related Stories
2007 Michigan State Preview
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 17, 2007
2007 Michigan State Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 17, 2007
2007 Michigan State Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jun 17, 2007

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