News and Notes from Spartan Football…8/21/09 Edition!

Hondo S. Carpenter

News and Notes from Spartan Football…


  1. Mark Hollis and Greg Ianni did a great job with the culmination of the Celebrate Michigan Football agreement. MSU already plays these teams, but now gets three guaranteed home dates with each team that will save the Spartans close to 8 million dollars according to sources inside the Athletic Department. They will also travel to the MAC towns with little expense while keeping at least seven home games. Also, they help Mark Dantonio because one of the seasons may get the Spartans NINE home games. Great deal for all.
  2. The only worry I have about Spartan Football in 2009 is the OL. The same concern I have had all off-season. Worry is not fear, but I have also maintained that this is a young group. 2010 on, we will not have the issues that we do now. This is still a work in progress, people; it is only year three.
  3. There is a lot of talk about Keith Nichol’s maturation even from the spring game. He is using his feet to move in the pocket rather than just run. Don’t get me wrong, he can and does run, but now he does it the way it is supposed to be done. This isn’t saying Kirk is doing bad, it is saying that Keith is doing well.
  4. D.J. Young was overcome with emotion at the mall signing autographs. His journey to MSU is a great story, and when a youngster wanted an autograph it touched him. I have no clue (and no one else does yet) how he will do when his days are over at MSU. I do know that I love having young men on this team that are overcome with thanks for making it.  D.J. is a very good football player whose drive is taking him places. He is an even better young man and that is a great role model for kids just like my sons. 
  5. There has been a lot of talk about how Mark Dantonio selects recruits with high character and a high motor. I agree, but there is one other attribute that isn’t getting as much attention. He is also getting guys that are weight and video room beasts. There is so much talk by coaches and even players about this class and their hunger to play the game.
  6. Ideally, you would ALWAYS red shirt your players because you have depth and it allows them a year to get bigger, faster, and stronger. There are some VERY talented young men that will get them this year that could play. By giving out as many red shirts as they can, they set themselves up for a Big Ten Championship run in 2011.
  7. One freshman name that you haven’t heard a lot about that I want to you write down is Henry Conway. You won’t hear it a lot this season, but in the future you will. He is a mountain that has all the weight, video work ethic, and on the field is a beast. Can anyone say Barrent and Conway as bookend mountains in the future? How about Nate Klatt in the middle and a set of guards that are all talented? OL is going to be a struggle this season, but I reiterate it won’t be in the future. 
  8. I have said before that in this offense the FB may not get a lot of love, but I enjoy watching them.�� Josh Rouse and Andrew Hawken are both excellent FBs and the fact that you are really hearing so little is because they make it look easy. These young men are great kids and workhorses. They are your typical blue-collar lunch pail workhorses and all you need to do is watch or ask the RBs about them. We will have two very talented young backs this season, but those two smart and savvy seniors playing bodyguard are great assets.
  9. Brendon Moss has an edge over the young D.J. Young because he is a better run-blocker. This offense will always have an offense based on running and with the QBs running more this season that gives Moss the lead for that #1 spot because running is a priority. Look for both of them to get pushed for their weakness.
  10. Rocco Cironi is recovering, but with two weeks until the first game he has to get back on track…soon. There is uncertainty and that isn’t good. Ideally, by midweek this should be sorting itself out.
  11. Antonio Jeremiah is working on his weight. I would have loved to see him take this to heart a lot sooner, but at least according to Coach Ted Gill he is. He has to get down to 320# to even make the field, and who knows if he will. His track record is that football isn’t a top of mind priority or this would never have become an issue. I will say this. He has the most talent of anyone on this team, ANYONE. If he can get it together this once #1 rated player in a Mark Dantonio recruiting class could quickly prove he earned it. I am not holding my breath; he has to prove he wants it. I am hoping he does do it. He can. Will he?
  12. I am getting a lot of email from people thinking that all the attention the freshman RBs are getting isn’t fair to the backs that were already here. This is no slight to them, but they have been here. They had all of last season (some before that) when this team desperately needed someone to step up to relieve Ringer and they didn’t. They also had all of the spring to step up and didn’t. They had the time and these guys are coming and their play is dictating the conversation. That may not be “fair” as some of you have suggested. It is reality.
  13. I have reported before that this camp is the first in which the staff didn’t have to go all the way back to ground zero. That doesn’t mean that they don’t go back to basics, I am saying they didn’t go all of the way back.
  14. I have written and talked a lot about the WRs and the need to actually catch balls this season after struggling badly last year. Well, here was something interesting I saw at camp. Dion Sims caught a bullet with one hand. ONE HAND and it was a bullet. I am sure they have, but I have watched the TEs close this camp and have yet to see them drop a catchable ball. In fact, I have seen two catches that I was confident were not catchable.

Lastly, I realize the season hasn’t started, but this team deserves a game ball. Most teams would be dividing over what QB they want, if not publicly, they would privately. Sure some of them are close to Kirk or Keith, but publicly or privately you don’t see it. I hope that whoever gets the nod, the fan base shows the class and trust in this staff that the players have. That has said more to me than anything else I have seen this year.

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