Point By Point Analysis of Spartan Nation's EXCLUSIVE Interview with MSU OC Dan Roushar

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Dan Roushar is entering his second season as the Offensive Coordinator for the Spartans. The well-respected coach helped the Michigan State offense become one of the best in the Big Ten last season. But Roushar has a challenge ahead, as he must replace seven starters, including Kirk Cousins, B.J. Cunningham, Edwin Baker, and Keyshawn Martin.

The veteran coach has a positive outlook for the upcoming season, as he sees young talent ready to emerge. Roushar was recently interviewed by Hondo on Spartan Nation Radio. Roushar talked about the status of every offensive position, and also took time to talk a bit about himself as a coach. The topics he commented on are listed below.

  • Quarterback Andrew Maxwell has some large shoes to fill. Kirk Cousins started at the
    position for three years, becoming the winningest quarterback in Michigan
    State history with a 27-12 record. But Maxwell is similar, in Roushar’s
    eyes, in everything except experience. “He has a great presence and
    command of the offense; he’s got a strong arm. Like Kirk, he can make all
    the throws. He’s a good decision maker and he’s very accurate. When you
    watch him mechanically, he’s very sound, he’s very efficient. He’s got all
    the qualities to be a tremendous player.” Roushar is confident of Maxwell,
    a “student of the offense,” who the coaching staff believes is “going to
    be a terrific quarterback.”
  • The wide receiver position is understandably a concern for the MSU offense. The
    team lost Martin, Cunningham, and Keith Nichol, leaving an inexperienced
    but talented corps of wide outs. Roushar is concerned with the lack of
    experience but still likes the group as a whole. “They’ve got good work
    ethic, they’ve got ability.” The offensive coordinator also took time to
    praise Wide Receiver Coach Terrence Samuel, who Roushar believes will play
    a major part in developing the important position.
  • Roushar talked about two receivers in particular: Juwan Caesar and Bennie Fowler.
    Both spent time in the offseason recovering from foot injuries. Caesar, a red-shirt
    freshman, impressesRoushar: “For being as tall as he is, he has
    really good ball skills and a strong upper body.” The coordinator is
    anxious to see Caesar healthy and contributing. Fowler also needs to get to
    100%, as Roushar called him an “important piece to the puzzle.” Roushar
    added that, according to Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Ken Mannie,
    Fowler is doing well. “All reports come back that he’s having a really
    good summer, and every day he’s making progress and moving forward.” Roushar is expecting Fowler and Caesar
    to both be ready and healthy when camp opens the 2012 season.
  • The offensive line will be a strong suit for the Spartans this season, as
    there is much experience returning. Many of the offensive line’s mistakes,
    which the staff noticed during film study, have already been corrected by OL
    Coach Mark Staten. Roushar is pleased with where Staten has the offensive
    line right now.
  • Roushar was thrilled that Fou Fonoti stepped up last year when right tackle Skyler
    Burkland went down with an ankle injury. Fonoti, a junior college
    transfer, didn’t get a chance to play spring ball last year. And as
    Roushar said, Fonoti was faced with the tough task of learning both left
    and right tackle schemes in training camp. But Fonoti overcame it all and
    did a fine job at right tackle last season. “His game elevated. He’s a
    tremendous leader,” Roushar said. “Our kids, our football team genuinely
    like that guy with everything they have. It’s a credit to the type of
    person he is. We’re lucky to have him be a part of our program.”
  • Roushar, who also serves as the Tight End Coach, was happy to talk about Dion Sims.
    “He’s got a phenomenal ceiling,” Roushar said. He also commented that
    Sims’s maturity, desire, and urgency have all improved. If the junior
    tight end can stay healthy, Roushar believes that Sims can be a major part of the offense.
    “He can be as talented a tight end as I’ve been around.”
  • The coordinator was enthusiastic about running back LeVeon Bell: “He’s a
    tremendous back. He’s got the physical dimensions: 242-243 pounds…He can
    square his shoulders and run.” As Roushar pointed out, Bell averaged 5.2
    yards per carry. He did not have a lot of long runs, but he consistently
    ran well. “He’s deceptive with his ability to run away from you. He’s got
    phenomenal ball skills, and he’s got a high football IQ,” Roushar said. “He
    really loves football and works at it. He’s impressed us each and every
    time he’s taken the field. He loves it. We just have to keep him focused
    and driven on the team and the individual goals.” Keeping Bell grounded
    and focused will be key, as many are already saying that the junior back is
    top fifteen material in the NFL draft. It all comes down to staying
    focused on playing well, Roushar stated. “He needs to perform. As Coach
    Barnett always says, “When our great players have great years, that’s a
    great thing for our program. We want to him focused, humble, and hungry.”
  • Roushar also touched on the topic of incoming freshman, Nick Tompkins. The back is
    highly touted, as he was ranked the eleventh best all-purpose back in the
    nation by Rivals. Roushar said that he is eager to see Tompkins in the Green and White. “He can play in
    the I [formation]; he can run inside. But we’re excited about what he can
    do on the perimeter: both in the run game and in catching the football.”
  • In his sixth year at Michigan State, Roushar is universally respected and loved
    by his players. A family man and role model, Roushar’s players
    enthusiastically follow him. As part of a “great staff/family” at Michigan
    State, Roushar works hard at coaching his players, fundamentally and
    mentally. Fou Fonoti had this to say about the coach: “The thing I
    appreciate about Coach Roushar is that he does not tolerate mistakes. But
    the thing I like most about him is when you make a mistake, he shows you
    quickly how to fix it. I don’t think there could be a better coach in the
    world to play for. He’s made me better.”