Your Weekly MSU Football Question and Answer Article

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The Spartans are in great shape as the summer of 2011 arrives.  Photo courtesy of Starr Portice.

The Spartans are in great shape as the summer of 2011 arrives. Photo courtesy of Starr Portice.

News, Notes, and Thoughts from Spartan Football

 

OK Hondo, lots of woe on Spartan Nation the past couple of weeks over Hoke's fast start in recruiting, at least within the state. Also a bit of questioning that Coach D and his staff have not so far "stolen" any recruits from Alabama, USC, or the Buckeyes. Do you believe we can continue to improve over the previous year's class?
Tim in CA

 

Not only do I believe, I can tell you that they are on track for that. Let me add that I think it is a joke with what Mark Dantonio has done in four years, that people inside the Spartan Nation are questioning him. What a joke. I agree and have heard the lamenting and it makes me sick. There are several factors for the 2012 class, but one is that they aren’t going to have a big class. Secondly, recruits now know that playing time is not ample. They are looking at great players red shirting and I know FOR A FACT that other than the elite schools (Florida, OSU, Alabama), EVERY school is using playing time against MSU.  Thirdly, some people need to understand the nuances of recruiting. Let me say that every kid offered by MSU they would have taken. They gave an offer and would honor it. That doesn’t mean they wanted them all. Let me explain. I won’t be specific to make it obvious what players I am talking about, but I will lay the story out. If a kid is getting multiple offers and MSU doesn’t really want the player, they can’t afford to alienate that school or coach. They will extend an offer to a kid that they might not be high on or feel like they won’t get, but once he gets an offer letter the contact stops. They then can walk away having at least shown respect. I know a player that they offered once, but didn’t call, didn’t court, and go after at all. He went to a school that wasn’t, shall we say, KNOWN for sending players to MSU. They had no shot and he wasn’t a priority player, but to not alienate the school, city or state that he was in, an offer was made. Don’t get me wrong because there were some players that MSU really wanted and didn’t get for this coming class. I can also tell you that I think there were some happy people when others who had offers didn’t take the Spartans up. Recruiting is often like politics in that what you perceive isn’t always reality, no matter what the superficial evidence suggest. I can tell you that I am not even worried. In the JLS years if they didn’t want a player they didn’t even talk to him or the coach. That alienated much of Detroit. This staff shows the love to not burn bridges, but AT EVERY COLLEGE FOOTBALL SCHOOL there are players that get offers that coaches pray never take them.

 

My question is about play-calling....MSU's o-talent this year is reportedly above average in most categories, except our o-line. For the past few years I have watched us try over and over to run it up the middle on 1st down and 3rd and short, with a very poor average, less that 2 yds per carry vs big 10 and bowl teams (creampuffs don't count). This year will we try more variety on 1st down? (anything but straight up the middle?) Thanks.Â

Pete in Midland

 

Pete, that is a great question and THE FIRST I asked new OC Dan Roushar when he got the job. His answer was emphatic that he wanted to utilize the pass more on early downs and I also think you will see more draws on third down and running to not let defenses key back and make life harder on Cousins.

 

Hi, who are the main recruiting targets that we have a real shot at landing?

Thanks. Scott

 

Scott, that is a good question, but I want to use it in another angle. MSU loves and has made as a bedrock their summer camps to evaluate talent. Players getting the attention before these camps are out there, but I can tell you that there are a ton of players and talent that are still being evaluated. Don’t buy a lot of hype right now. There is a long way to go to developing your recruiting boards in the coaches’ war room right now. I can tell you that with Michigan not being as deep this year as times in the past, this will be the most out of state focused class for Coach D as of yet. I also want you to know that was projected BEFORE M Rod was fired at UM no matter what you hear.

 

Hondo,

Where was Edwin Baker on your top 7 Heisman list? How about Taylor Martinez from Nebraska or LaMichael James from Oregon? Andrew

 

Andrew, I got a ton of email about those three. Rock is going to have a great year, but there are two great backups that will get reps. He won’t get a season with the % of carries like Javon Ringer’s senior year. With that wide spread of talent it will be hard to win it. Same with Cousins whom I think will have a great year, but will have a great running game to hurt him. Martinez I do not believe will have the campaign that is needed. I am not sold on his head coach and Oregon will have a ton of talent all over the field again spreading the wealth. Lastly, how about Andrew Luck the QB at Stanford. Great player, but don’t see the season from the team as a whole that is needed to win this award. Great player? You know it, but we all know the award goes to great players with great seasons for the team. Stanford will be good, but won’t be as good as I expect others on my list to be. Remember the Heisman is supposed to be for the best college football player. Supposed to be. It isn’t. My article was the top to win the Heisman and I wrote it with that in mind. It wasn’t my best player analysis.

 

Hondo, I was reading in the media how the loss of Dan Enos is killing MSU in Detroit. How could Dantonio let him go? It looks like he is going to fail in Mt Pleasant so hopefully MSU can bring him back. Rich in Okemos

 

Rich, I didn’t read that report, but what Wolverine wrote it? I have said since BEFORE Enos left that the myth that he was our sole salesman in Detroit was just that: a myth! Dantonio from day one knew Detroit was too critical for one guy and guys leave. EVERY member of the staff has an assignment in Detroit and EVERY player in Detroit has MORE THAN ONE coach as a recruiter. Please see an above answer to understand some of the nuances of recruiting, but also remember there are some people with a vested interest in the demise of MSU and selling that to people. Spartan Nation is 100% free. We don’t have to sell anything. That is why we heralded the hire of Hoke who is a good man and will do a good job, and can call CRAP on people calling the end for MSU now. Michigan State is doing very well and are expanding their base which they needed to do. MSU got some recruits early that they wouldn’t go after now because they didn’t know them. They also needed to reopen some relationships. Now they can broaden their horizons. Enos is a great Spartan and he did good, but his moving on hasn’t hurt MSU in the least bit. He was not a RB coach where Salem is and Salem has broadened recruiting. This isn’t disrespect for Dan, but the Enos/Salem switch was a positive for the Spartans.

 

 

Thanks for all of the great comments and email for the new Saturday column. If you aren’t aware, on Saturday mornings I answer some of your email in a Q and A column about Spartan football. If you have a MSU football question you would like answered send me an email at SpartanNationMail@yahoo.com