News and Notes From Spartan Football 8/27/09 Edition

Hondo S. Carpenter

News and Notes From Spartan Football 8/26/09 Edition


  • Can you say WOW? Talk to anyone around Spartan Football and all of them talk about Dion Sims. He is simply making plays and with each one he is making people shake their heads. He is a freshman and it is way too early to say how good he is, but if I am Montana State, I offer part of my nearly 1 million dollar guarantee if they keep him off the field. He is a wrecking machine. He told me today that he is down from 280, but with camp breaking expects to be back at 280 when we open with our pre-season game against Montana State.
  • We are nine days out from the season opener and thankfully it is a pre-season game. The WRs continue to drop passes and the Spartans can’t have a nine win season (my prediction) if they can’t cure their penchant for dropping them. Luckily, we only need two with all the TEs we have, but Coach Tread loves to go four wide on occasion and he can’t if they can’t catch. I am not fearful…yet…but I do fully expect that group to improve.
  • The depth in the defensive backfield is incredible. Fortener and Hyde are the starting safeties and CLR and Jeremy Ware are the CBs. Guys are not playing bad, it is because they are so deep and guys are playing good. If I would have told you two years ago that the DBs would be so strong that no one was even worried about who won the starters jobs, you would have said I was nuts. All the credit goes to this staff. 
  • Chris Norman is the real deal. There has been some speculation if he could unseat a starter to start the year. I don’t see it. They will work him in like they did Greg Jones, but he will play a lot and could move to starter during the season. 
  • If you want a good reason to go to the pre-season scrimmage known as Montana State, here is a good one. The Spartans will get to play a lot of guys. Twos and threes and it will give you a great picture of where they are going and a chance to see who may step up as the season progresses. I don’t care what the depth chart says, that game a lot of guys will play and I wouldn’t be surprised to see changes after it.
  • Ethan Ruhland is having a great camp. He is working primarily at C and with Joel Nitchman being banged up, he is getting a lot of reps. I have said many times that when players are tied, the edge goes to the younger player. Nitchman has struggled at times with injuries and if we get into the season and he has one again, he might not get his spot back. This isn’t hate for Joel who is a great kid. These are just the facts. Ruhland isn’t ready….yet, but he plays hard all the time and the coaches love his motor. Ruhland used to put too much weight on the football. This may surprise some of you, but the center is supposed to have VERY LITTLE weight on the ball, so as to make the C/QB exchange liquid and smooth. That little adjustment is huge. Make sure you check out on Thursday the video with him.
  • Joel Nitchman is a super kid. Today at practice there was a special needs youngster who I brought over with his father to watch the OL with me. Call me an idiot (I have been called worse) but it brought tears to my eyes to see Joel come over and make that youngster’s day. Joel is a class act, and that kid and I will never forget what taking 10 seconds can do. You are classy Joel.
  • Trevor Anderson is hitting on all cylinders. Last season he came out of the gate slow. That isn’t happening this season. He is ready and ready to go. He will have a lot of people running away from him this year, and when they do go after him it will be double and triple teams. That is good news as long as someone steps up on the other side at DE.
  • Jeremy Ware, talking about guys having a great camp comes to mind. He came in as a good second-string guy who is playing his way into the ones as I told you above. He is short (under 6’) but he is playing with exceptional technique and with a high IQ. He plays with such heart. There are a lot of guys who are good behind him so who knows how the season will end. I do know this; no one will outwork him.
  •  Dan Conroy has moved ahead of Kevin Muma and has a real shot to be the opening kicker. Dan is a blue-collar worker I have been telling you about for months. Every time I see the kid I expect to see a lunch pail. It is too early to say who will be kicking off, but Conroy is in the hunt. It couldn’t happen to a better kid. Just a class act and a great kicker.
  • Brandon Denson is so fast, so good and you can’t watch him play football and not love the kid. Today he had a guy in line for a monster hit and it wasn’t a drill for hitting so he let up. The victim in his sites was informed by Denson that he was lucky. I have seen him get hits and be hit and he just loves the game of football. He can talk smack with the best, but I must confess this. I have two sons, one who plays football (Duffy is only four) and I would love for them to tail him. He plays the game with passion, toughness and speed. In my position you get to know so many of the kids personally and there are so many great ones. Denson’s pure love of the game and work ethic are one of the many reasons to buy tickets. Coach Dantonio has either brought in guys, or as a good farmer cultivated in the guys here a love for this game.
  • Coach Dantonio will name the starting quarterback on Tuesday. He already has in his mind who it is, but will make it public then. No matter who wins this job, the other will play and I can tell you this. There will be no pouting and acting like a scorned lover. Both of these young men have made the Spartan Nation proud.
  • With Caper, Baker, and Ray having emerged as the three guys (they may go four deep) this is going to be fun. Ray, last year, looked confused and at times frustrated. Something we talked about today and you can watch the video and see for yourself. He is confident and has really grown from a boy to a man. Caulton is, yet again, another gentleman and anyone that watched him play in high school will be glad to know that the young man’s passion is back. Caulton always wears a smile and is one of the happiest people I have ever met. It is nice to see the smile back.
  • In an age where families are divided and torn, Keith and Kyle Nichol sure bring a smile back to my face. The brothers are close and I think the only person Keith would rather see under center is his little brother. They don’t try to hide their closeness and watching Keith throw a “love ya” to his little brother made me smile. They both love this game so much, and I am sure many of the players have that relationship with their brothers, but it is nice to see. I have three kids, and when they are older and in college, I hope to see it. I have never met Mr. and Mrs. Nichol, but they did something right and should be very proud. Judging you by your kids means you are pretty awesome people.
  • Oren Wilson spent a lot of time being pushed by Coach Gill. He fought through it and I can say this, he is a star. He has a high motor and has grown into a fine DT. One thing that makes him better is that he doesn’t have to be pushed anymore. He has learned to push himself and that is not a good sign for our opponents in the Big Ten.
  • Jared McGaha, the OG from Tennessee, continues to just get better. Some players have to grow into it (Moss, Wilson and others), and McGaha is doing that. He just keeps working hard. He is a very smart player and will have a good career at MSU. He can’t worry about how the season starts. Most sophomores are not even playing at most good programs. If he stays patient he is going to do great things.
  • Larry Caper continues to show us why he is worthy of all the hype. Today during a walk through he was “helping a veteran player” out. Read that as telling him what to do. He is so smart and you can’t take away the intelligence factor in a back.
  • Spartan Ticket sales have not reachd last years totals yet. I asked John Lewandowski the MSU SID about it at practice. They expect this years numbers to meet or maybe even possibly be bigger than last, but as of now they aren't there yet.
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