2009 Spartan Nation Football Profile:Â C Joel Nitchman #65
2009 Eligibility:Â Senior
EXP:Â 2 Letters
Status:Â Starting Center
Strengths:Â Nitchman is a very good blocker.Â Many centers struggle with doing that at a high level.Â They have to deliver the ball to the QB first and then they have to engage their opponent.Â You can only imagine the difficulty in doing that with a 300+ pound defensive tackle over you who is waiting for the slightest movement of the ball.
To best illustrate the play of Nitchman and his strength, I want to take you to the UM game and what I felt was one of the most outstanding plays by any Spartan OL in 2008.Â In the second quarter, the Spartans had a first down.Â In a tight defensive front, Nitchman leveled the NT straight on and pancaked him allowing for a four-yard gain.
Now letâ€™s be honest and admit that four-yard non-touchdown gains donâ€™t garner a lot of attention, but this one did.Â He had no guard help because of the defensive front, and on a short dive (straight up the middle) he was able to not only engage the bigger defender, but also pancake him.Â It was a great play that best illustrates this talented young manâ€™s ability.
Weakness:Â In the PSU and OSU game Nitchman struggled.Â Now to be fair, if you saw the game most of his teammates not named Greg Jones did also.Â Those games, however, showed that Nitchman could struggle against better competition.Â He is very talented and in 2009 this redshirt senior will be entrusted to lead.Â He is the one who will have to be the dominant force.Â It is 100% mental attention and no lapses.
As an example of this, letâ€™s go to a game that he played well in, but did make a mental error in.Â Against Notre Dame in the fourth quarter, MSU had a second and goal.Â The play was very similar to the one I mentioned above as a strength against Michigan.Â Nitchman attacked straight ahead, but his opponent in tight quarters again (on the goal line) was able to side step him and Nitchman went four yards ahead falling to the ground and not engaging anyone.Â The defense was able to get pressure behind the line since Nitchman hadnâ€™t engaged anyone and stop Javon for no score.Â Had Nitchman engaged his man, he had the momentum, it would have been a score.
Final Analysis:Â The Spartans will have two newcomers this season and with adjustments coming on the OL, fifth year seniors like Nitchman at the most critical part of the OL could he huge.Â With a new QB and RB in addition to the above-mentioned OL that puts even more pressure on the QB of the OL, better known as the center.Â Nitchman is very capable of taking his game to the next level and should do so.