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Five Most Interesting Things O-line Coach Chris Kapilovic Said At Media Availability

Michigan State has improved in pass protection, but the Spartans' rushing attack has grounded to a halt against Power 5 competition...

Michigan State offensive line coach Chris Kapilovic met with the media earlier this week, discussing a variety of topics ranging from the Spartans' struggles running the football to how the 2-3 start of the season could impact recruiting.

Here are five things that Kapilovic said which caught our ear:

1.) “If you look at the stats, and look at the way things are going right now, nothing looks good. But if you just really analyze the five guys up front and watch them each play, none of them are playing at a level where ‘this guy’s got to get replaced, we’ve got to make a change.’ That hasn’t happened.”

There's a few different ways to look at the above quote. You can read it and come away thinking that Michigan State's offensive line is playing at a level better than that stats suggest.

Or, you can read it and come away thinking, the Spartans are playing their best five to six guys, but those guys just aren't very good.

I think anybody with reasonable expectations knew that Michigan State's offensive line had serious question marks coming into 2022. Several of last year's returning starters were coming off injuries, and much of the Spartans' depth along the line graduated or moved on following 2021.

Kapilovic noted that redshirt sophomore Brandon Baldwin has worked his way into the rotation, which helps with depth. But it's clear that Michigan State's offensive line doesn't have a very high ceiling this season.

2.) “I’ve got to go with the best guys. At the end of the day, every drive is critical. This isn’t the time to experiment, I’ve got to go with the best guys.”

Again, this is along the same lines of the quote above. Michigan State is playing the guys that give them the best chance to win. Most of the young offensive linemen that Tucker and Kapilovic have recruited aren't ready to contribute yet.

While there have been calls for changes at other positions — like in the secondary or at linebacker or at quarterback — offensive line is not a position where you're going to mix and match personnel.

For better or for worse, the Spartans O-line rotation is pretty well established.

3.) “I like them a lot. Our defensive coaches said this is the best scout team look they’ve gotten since they’ve been here. They’re big, they’re physical guys, they enjoy the work, they enjoy the physicality of the game. There’s no backing off, no complaining. They like it.”

Kapilovic is talking about Michigan State's 2022 true freshman offensive linemen class with the quote above.

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The Spartans signed Gavin Broscious, Ashton Lepo, Braden Miller, Kristian Phillips during this last cycle, and while these aren't guys that can help MSU this season, it's vitally important that Michigan State hits on some or all of these guys.

Offensive line development is not something that can be rushed. It takes time and a sharp eye in recruiting. For Michigan State to get to the level of football it wants to get to, development at this position group is vital.

4.) “We need some explosive plays. That’s really what you look at we’re missing right now, is some explosive plays – to get some big chunks, so we can move it down [the field]. And when we’ve done that in these last couple games, you’ve seen us move the ball and get into a rhythm.”

Kapilovic hits it on the head with the above quote. Michigan State's offense has struggled in ways I didn't expect this season, and a lot of it comes back to the Spartans' lack of explosive plays.

Last season, Kenneth Walker III was an explosive run waiting to happen. Defenses had to pay so much attention to him, that it opened opportunities for the receivers on the outside.

Enter Jalen Nailor and Jayden Reed, two guys who were capable of taking the top off the defense. Michigan State still has that in 2022, with Reed and Keon Coleman, but the Spartans are missing the run game element that sucks a defense down and opens up the deep throw.

For the Spartans' offense to get back to putting pressure on opposing defenses, they have to get a more reliable and threatening run game, which will open up that deep passing attack.

5.) “Most football player recruits understand the ebb and flow of what happens … People who are in this [football] world understand sometimes things don’t go right. And then, I think also they see…this team may not have the depth that we need to be as successful as we want to be, and that’s a great opportunity for me to come in and maybe get on the field earlier.”

Both head coach Mel Tucker and Kapilovic were asked if Michigan State's poor start this season would have a negative effect on recruiting, and I think both guys handled the question well.

I don't think losses in a single season have as big of an immediate impact on recruiting as some fans think it does.

Can losses cause you to miss out on a high-end recruit here or there? Yeah, sure. But you're not going to see decommitments en masse due to the Spartans struggles this season.

Kapilovic went on to talk about how recruits are still seeing the Spartans' culture shine through, even in these losses, and Michigan State's coaching staff is confident in what they are doing on the recruiting trail.

With that being said, recruiting will be impacted when programs stack losing seasons on top of another, and that momentum can be difficult to recapture. Michigan State's 11-2 record a year ago will counteract what is shaping up to be a disappointing 2022 season, but the Spartans need to show progress and improvement going forward.