2008 CFN Michigan State Preview
2008 MSU Offense
2008 MSU Defense |
2008 MSU Depth
2007 CFN Michigan State Preview
2006 CFN Michigan
nothing else, head coach Mark Dantonio did a great job of changing the
culture of flake around East Lansing. Past Spartan teams would’ve gone
into the tank after losing three straight games including an overtime
heartbreaker to Iowa and a soul-crusher at home against Michigan. But
Dantonio showed that this isn’t the same old Michigan State as he
rallied his team to come up with two nice wins over Purdue and Penn
State to earn a bowl trip.
This isn’t the MSU you’re used to, but there’s still a lot of work to do
and the program still might be a year or two away from being at the high
level Spartans fans are demanding.
Head coach: Mark Dantonio
2nd year: 7-6
5th year overall: 26-23
Off. 15, Dec. 19., ST 3
Best MSU Players
2. LB Greg Jones, Soph.
3. SS Otis Wiley, Sr.
4. DE Trevor Anderson, Jr.
5. QB Brian Hoyer, Sr.
6. CB Kendall Davis-Clark, Sr.
7. DT Justin Kershaw, Sr.
8. DE Brandon Long, Sr.
9. OT Jesse Miller, Sr.
10. WR Mark Dell, Soph.
CFN Prediction: 7-5
2008 Results: 0-0
Aug. 30 at California
Sept. 6 Eastern Michigan
Sept. 13 Florida Atlantic
Sept. 20 Notre Dame
Sept. 27 at Indiana
Oct. 4 Iowa
Oct. 11 at Northwestern
Oct. 18 Ohio State
Oct. 25 at Michigan
Nov. 1 Wisconsin
Nov. 8 Purdue
Nov. 15 OPEN DATE
Nov. 22 at Penn State
CFN Prediction: 4-8
Sept. 15 Pitt
Sept. 22 at
No Dame W 31-14
Sept. 29 at
Wisconsin L 37-34
L 48-41 OT
Indiana W 52-27
Ohio State L 24-17
L 34-27 2OT
Michigan L 28-24
Purdue W 48-31
State W 35-31
Champs Sports Bowl
Dec. 28 Boston College L 24-21
Just enough key
cogs are gone to prevent a major improvement in Dantonio's year two. RB
Javon Ringer and QB Brian Hoyer are back to work around but there are
several huge losses like DEs Jonal Saint-Dic & Ervin Baldwin, WR Devin
Thomas, and RB Jahuu Caulcrick. And then there’s the schedule with a
brutal back half of the season to deal with.
Not like Dantonio will worry about any apparent obstacles. His style is
to go full-steam forward and power through, and that's what his offense
is going to do.
The line is huge, Ringer is special, and Hoyer is a good veteran who
won't get much publicity because he isn't fancy. The defense has the
potential to be fantastic with Cincinnati transfer Trevor Anderson
likely to be as good as, or better, than Saint-Dic, and future NFL
millionaire Otis Wiley appearing to be home at strong safety after
struggling the first part of last year at free safety. The defensive
front seven, led by LB Greg Jones, is fast, the receivers, while
inexperienced, are fast, and the backs are fast. Dantonio has the blend
of speed and power that he needs, and now the close wins have to start
going MSU's way.
Talk about a team that can't come through in the clutch, all six of
Michigan State's losses came by seven points or fewer. All six. Over the
last four years, MSU is 5-17 in games decided by eight points or fewer.
Veteran, confident teams win more of those, and this year's Spartan team
is more experienced, and more confident. And better.
It might take one more year to be a Big Ten championship contender, but
there are just enough good pieces in place to come a lot closer than the
program has been in a long time.
What to watch for on offense: Can Mark Dell become a star
receiver? He was a great recruit last year, and he came up with a decent
20-catch true freshman season, but now he has to become a special, No. 1
type of target at the X. Tight end is going to be the bigger issue,
replacing Kellen Davis, and Hoyer will make everyone better, but if Dell
isn't great right away, the Spartans could quickly become more
What to watch for on defense: Stars to build around. James
Laurinaitis has already been handed the Big Ten Defensive Player of the
Year trophy, and there are good defensive players throughout the league,
but MSU DE Trevor Anderson, LB Greg Jones, and SS Otis Wiley are as
talented as any three at their positions. Anderson is going to be a
one-man wrecking crew into the backfield, Jones was a freshman sensation
who'll do even more now that he's in the middle, and Wiley should be a
top NFL prospect again at strong safety.
The team will be far better if … it
can return a punt. The Spartans were
third in the nation in kickoff returns last season, thanks to Devin
Thomas, averaging 25.68 yards per return, but only Iowa State was worse
at returning punts. The Spartans averaged 4.06 yards per return. The
longest return was just 18 yards.
No one's going to expect the Spartans to win the opener at California,
so it's sort of a no-lose situation. An upset could set the tone for a
huge first half of the year getting expected home wins over Eastern
Michigan and Florida Atlantic before dealing with an improved Notre
Dame, who MSU should beat. If you're going to go on the road for two Big
Ten road dates in three weeks, there's worse than playing at Indiana and
Northwestern. The key to the season is the mid-season three-game stretch
against Ohio State, at Michigan and Wisconsin before closing out against
Purdue, but those are three home games in a four-game stretch before
getting a week off. While MSU will be rested for the regular season
finale against Penn State, the Nittany Lions will be coming off a game
against Indiana. The Spartans catch a huge break missing Illinois, but
it all evens out with Minnesota off the schedule.
Best Offensive Player: Senior RB Javon Ringer. The only question is whether or not
he can stay healthy. He has had problems with his knees and a shoulder,
but he still tore off 1,447 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 5.9
yards per carry, and he would've put up ridiculous scoring numbers if
Jehuu Caulcrick didn't take away 21 scores.
Best Defensive Player: Sophomore LB Greg Jones. Anderson is going
to be the new pass rushing star, Wiley will be the top NFL prospect, and
there are others, like LB Eric Gordon and DT Justin Kershaw, in the
running for All-Big Ten honors, but Jones will be the leader of the
defense. With unlimited range and great pass rushing ability, he was a
breakout star on the outside as a freshman. Now he's being moved to the
middle where he should be among the Big Ten's best for the next three
Key player to a successful season: Sophomore WR Mark Dell. There
are plenty of decent wide receiver options ready to shine, but Dell
needs to show he can build on the big spring and the good promise of
last year and be the new Devin Thomas. He has the next-level talent to
quickly become one of the league's most dangerous receivers.
The season will be a
... the Spartans win nine games. It'll require an upset or two against
someone like Cal or Penn State on the road, or Ohio State or Wisconsin
at home, but this team should be good enough to pull it off. A nine-win
season would be the best since the 10-2 1999 campaign, and it would be
the stepping-stone to show that MSU is on the verge of really big things
August 30th vs. California. On name recognition alone, and because the
game is in Berkeley, just about everyone will chalk up a Cal win without
giving it much thought. If the MSU running game controls the tempo, and
if the pass rush gets in the backfield on a regular basis, this could be
a win. The Bears are breaking in several new skill players and will
hardly be jelled in game one. The Spartans have to take advantage. Win
this one, and 7-0 is possible before facing Ohio State.
2007 Fun Stats:
- Sacks: Michigan State 40 for 302 yards – Opponents 30 for 193 yards
- Rushing yards per game: Michigan State 198.2 – Opponents 125.8
- Opponents scoring: 1st quarter: 68 – 2nd quarter