News and Notes From Spartan Footballâ€¦
Hondo S. Carpenter
News and Notes From Spartan Footballâ€¦
- If the Spartans are forced to use Edwin â€œROCKâ€ Baker this season, that is not a good sign.Â With a cupboard of RBs sitting behind Larry Caper and Caulton Ray, that means no one else stepped up.Â They donâ€™t want to take the shirt off of Baker, so keep your fingers crossed.
- Keith Nichol was ready and wanting to throw Tuesday in practice.Â The coaches had to practically mug him to keep him from doing it, but he should be ready for Saturday.Â Thankfully the injury is to his non-throwing arm, but the motion that comes from throwing was not worth aggravating it.Â There are not a lot of worries that he wonâ€™t be able to back up Kirk Cousins as Cousins did him last week.
- Cousins sat last week simply because the team didnâ€™t need to use him, until the final victory formation.Â If Cousins can produce as Nichol did last week, and I think he will, Nichol should sit on Saturday.
- Here is some good news.Â The Spartan DTâ€™s will get back their entire SIX deep from this season next year.Â Even better news?Â Only one of them will be a senior and they have some nice talent red shirting this year that will step in next year also.Â The first thee real games (donâ€™t count Montana State) they struggled, but they have come on strong and have to make OCs around the Big Ten nervous thinking about 2010.
- How about the emergence of B.J. Cunningham.Â We have sung the praises of this young man since he arrived in East Lansing and he is quickly breaking out.Â He is making big catches and throwing some great blocks downfield.
- Speaking of breaking out, Keshawn Martin has really grown up.Â He was under utilized last year as he was going through the growing pains, but these past three games he has really stepped it up.Â They havenâ€™t used him YET in any wildcat or trick play scenario, but the fact that he has finally solidified the PR game and will now join AJ Jimmerson in the KR game with the injury to Glenn Winston is all the proof you need to know that the staff is gaining in confidence with their young star.
- Six games into the season Aaron Bates continues to be the silent MVP of this team.Â Every time he gets the chance to punt, you know he will do the right thing.Â He was hurt (as far as perception and stats) early when his teammates were terrible in actually tackling on punts, but he is a star.
- Another young man having a great season and isnâ€™t getting the love is LS Alex Shackleton.Â His consistency is tremendous and with the LS being the most under appreciated position in football, stop and admire his work.
- Don Treadwell has quietly had an amazing 2009 campaign.Â He lost Javon Ringer and all that he produced, two seniors on the OL and a QB.Â A QB that is now backing up Tom Brady, perhaps the greatest QB in the NFL and getting rave reviews in Brian Hoyer.Â Coming into the season the general consensus was that the offense would be the weak point.Â He has quietly racked up an average of 420 yards a game and over 30 points.Â In case you donâ€™t know, those are amazing numbers and ANY school in the nation would be thrilled with them.Â Without Treadwellâ€™s performance this season how bad would the Spartan Nation feel today?
- There is an old adage that there is only one ball.Â With that there is a general consensus that the Spartans have the best group of TEs in college football and it would be nice to see them more utilized.Â That is a good question, but you have to remember that there is only one ball.Â Stop and step back and really appreciate the job this offense has done.
- Joel Foreman continues to get better.Â You can look at every game he has played in, and he is only a sophomore, and see him just get better.Â He can take on guys at the point of the attack and just manhandle them.Â He is clearly the MVP of the OL and getting a lot of national attention.
- I said in the off-season in Spartan Nation magazine that Eric Gordon would get the love as the season progressed.Â He was a beast this off-season and the improved play you are seeing just didnâ€™t happen by coincidence.Â Gordonâ€™s work ethic has willed this and he is truly playing with great instincts and aggression.
- The DBs have been much maligned this season and rightfully so.Â They have really stepped up and jelled the last two games.Â The Spartans will have five of their eight two deep not return for 2010, as five of them are seniors.Â Next year could be a tough adjustment also as youth will be served.
- Here is an interesting stat that you can throw around the water cooler with your buddies as more proof of the amazing job Mark Dantonio is doing.Â The Spartans have won 10 of their last 13 Big Ten games.
- How about Joel Nitchman.Â He played great on Saturday and has come back stronger from his time off injured.Â In case you donâ€™t know (and since my mother reads this I know at least one of you doesnâ€™t) the center has to call protections and blocking formations.Â In essence he is the QB of the OL.Â Nitchman called a tremendous game on Saturday and the Spartans last two wins can be credited to a much-improved OL and Nitchmanâ€™s play is a critical part of it.
- DE David Rolf is such a talent and is getting better with each rep he gets.Â He is due for a big play and he is getting closer each game to that highlight play that will introduce him to the Big Ten.Â He works hard and you have to love his motor.
- Blake Treadwell was supposed to red shirt this season.Â Well he worked so hard and willed himself to playing time.Â He is a tremendous young man and very smart.Â That intelligence has served him well as he continues to get better with each and every snap he takes.Â He is a star.
- I get frustrated with people complaining about certain players not getting reps.Â It is the job of the player to stick out on tape and in practice.Â There isnâ€™t one coach on this staff that wants to keep a kid off the field if he can help them win.Â With all of the injuries you are seeing, it will be interesting to see if some guys who couldnâ€™t get playing time will step up and make a move.Â The coaches are looking, letâ€™s see who wants it bad enough.Â
- Finally, Spartan Nation has been very vocal of its support for Glenn Winston.Â He will have surgery on Thursday and I hope each of you take a minute and says a prayer for him.Â He is strong and can go through this, but with all that he has been through, I certainly will be thinking of him and I hope you are also.