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Keon Coleman: "Defensive Coordinator Is Going To Panic” While Game-Planning For MSU Offense

The Spartan sophomore isn't lacking confidence...

Michigan State sophomore wide receiver Keon Coleman is not lacking any confidence heading into the 2022 season, either in himself or the Spartans’ offensive firepower.

Coleman believes that the talent that will be featured by Michigan State’s offense will be panic-inducing for opposing defensive coordinators.

“They’ve got their best corner on Jayden [Reed], with the safety over the top,” Coleman said. “That leaves three defenders on the back-side for me, Tre [Mosley] and a tight end – or me, Tre and another receiver.

“The defensive coordinator is going to panic. Like, he might pull his hair out, because after that first series he’s going to be like, ‘Alright, how can we defend all of these weapons?’ And our quarterback can run too, our running backs can catch it out of the backfield, so it’s like – you’re going to have to dial up some stuff. They’re going to be in a panic, for real, trying to game plan against us.”

It’s clear that Coleman doesn’t expect any big drop off from the Spartans’ offense, even with the departures of tailback Kenneth Walker III and wide receiver Jalen Nailor. The sophomore wide-out is putting it on himself to replace Nailor, and trusts MSU’s tailbacks to do their part in replacing Walker.

“I feel like I’ve got that weight on my shoulders,” Coleman said. “Even though it’s not intentionally put there by anybody, I put it there myself. I believe that [my team] believes I can be that guy [to] replace what we lost in that receiving room and a little bit in that running back room. We’ve got running backs for that, but in the receiving room I feel like I can fill that role that ‘Speedy’ – the gap that he left, I feel like I can take that role and run with it.”

Reed was the primary receiving option for quarterback Payton Thorne a season ago, reeling in a team-leading 59 receptions for 1,026 yards and 10 touchdowns. With the extra attention that Reed will command from opposing defenses, Coleman sees an opportunity for himself and the rest of MSU’s receivers to showcase their skills.

“With his success and all he’s done last season, there’s going to be a lot of attention on him,” Coleman said of Reed. “And us being so young, they don’t really have as much film on us, so when they come in here trying to give us single coverage we’re going to put them in a frenzy.”

Coleman said that ‘frenzy’ has become his favorite word during fall camp. The word came to him one night while alone in his dorm room, thinking about all the weapons Michigan State’s offense had to throw its opponents.

“Put them in a frenzy,” Coleman repeated. “It’s going to be kind of hard for them to cover us with their second-best corner or their second-best cover guy, or just one of their other DBs. Because they’re focused so much on ‘Uno’ [Reed], it’s going to be a lot of trouble.”

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Coleman has been a popular name among coaches, teammates and fans when considering which young Michigan State players will break out and make a name for themselves in 2022. The sophomore welcomes that faith from his teammates and coaches, and it’s clear that he believes it about himself as well.

“I’ve been doing route running and getting in and out of my breaks better than I was in the spring and last season,” Coleman said. “Being more physical, giving effort, playing with more intensity and [getting used] to the speed of the game, getting faster – I do feel like I’m due for a breakout season. So, we’ll be on the watch for that.”

Coleman described his relationship with Thorne as “something special” and looks forward getting the chance to “showcase” that relationship in a couple weeks against Western Michigan.

“There’s a great connection going on there,” Coleman said.

The sophomore views himself as a mismatch for most defenders who will line up against him this season, whether they be a cornerback, a safety or a linebacker in zone coverage.

“If you put a corner out there, a smaller corner – that’s not even a 50-50 ball anymore. That’s a 100 percent,” Coleman said. “I feel like I can run past him, be more physical than him, go over the top of him.

“If you put a bigger DB, who can’t move as much, I feel like I can out-sauce him on my routes and get open with my personality and my routes. If you put a safety there, he’s flat-footed and I’m gonna run clean by him. You put a backer out there and I’m going to do the same thing.”

As confident as Coleman is in his own abilities, he hopes his quarterback will show that same amount of confidence when throwing a 50-50 ball his way.

“If it’s 50-50, that means he can catch it or I can catch it. In my mind, I put it at 100 percent – if I can catch it, nobody’s going to catch it,” Coleman said. “Nine times out of ten, I’m going to make sure I’m going to catch that.

“So, me being me, I feel like my quarterback’s got that choice that they can close their eyes and throw it up. They’ve got a 90 percent chance I’m going to come down with the ball or, if I don’t, they aren’t going to throw a pick. That’s why I rule that a 100 percent ball. I feel everybody in our room feels the same way about themselves. When all’s in doubt, just let it go. I’m somewhere down there. Just throw it.”

Coleman is putting opposing defensive coordinators on notice. Western Michigan’s Lou Esposito is first up on the docket.