Spartan 6-0 Start to the Season Starts with the Big Uglies!



The OL has shined for the Spartans in 2010.  Photo courtesy of Bill Marklevits.
The OL has shined for the Spartans in 2010. Photo courtesy of Bill Marklevits.

The Spartans are 6-0 and just dispensed of their biggest rival. As members of the media debate the validity of this MSU team, one thing stands abundantly clear. MSU is winning with players in the trenches. Sure, three high profile tailbacks and a plethora of receivers always helps, but a good group of “big uglies” is what is needed to make a championship run.


In the preseason guides, MSU’s offensive line was considered an area of concern. Some even talked about it as an area of weakness. The reality is that the offensive line is as good as any unit the Spartans currently field. We knew D.J. Young was a legitimate tackle after his play last season, but did anyone really know that J’Michael Deane would be such a force? Deane is always good to pave the way for a couple extra yards.


The word was out about our center Stipek after his body of work last season as a reserve. Some thought he outplayed Nitchman last season and I tend to agree with them. Stipek is not only one of the better centers in the conference, he is making a bid to make the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the outside shot of being drafted in the later rounds. The men on his right and left shoulders are incredible talent.


Joel Foreman (left guard) and Chris “Magnus” McDonald (right guard) are the kind of lineman our old nemesis used to grade up and down the field with.  These guys are big, strong, agile and fast for men that check in at 300 pounds. Go back and watch the film of Badger game. During Larry Caper’s big screen play you’ll see #62 (Magnus) get a head of steam out front and just obliterate his man. The thing that really stuck out to me was Chris’s foot speed and ability to get out front of Larry before he made his next big burst. We haven’t had that around East Lansing in years. The same types of things can be said about Foreman who got to the second level (linebackers) most of the game last Saturday. Our offensive line punched Michigan in the face for 3.5 quarters the whole time scripting the next blow that was coming their way. That is how you play football.


The defensive line has been solid against the run. They have taken some criticism for not being able to produce a consistent pass rush, but they are getting better. I am not sure that Michigan’s line was as good as everyone was saying before the MSU game. By the start of the fourth quarter Saturday, Michigan’s offensive line looked like a screen door on passing downs. Much of this can be attributed to the play of Blake Treadwell and Jerel Worthy. Make no mistake about it; this team missed Blake while he was out.


Everyone needs to remember that the only upperclassman on the defensive line is Colin Neely. This group is young, but they are really working hard to better themselves. I have seen improved technique and pad level since the beginning of the season. Hoover is playing with better balance and a better level. Denzel Drone quietly had a good game last Saturday and did a pretty decent job setting the edge. Without the play of Hoover, Neely and Drone last weekend, Denard runs for many more yards than his 86. Gholston is still a freshman, but he is getting better every time he gets on the field. Strayhorn, Pickelman, White, France and Freeman really bolster this defensive line’s depth and they are shaping into a decent Big Ten unit. 6-0. These units will determine the next six. Go Green!!