Spartan M*A*SH* Unit Report - Updates and Concern Levels

Spartan M*A*SH* Unit Report - Updates and Concern Levels

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Spartan M*A*SH* Unit Report - Updates and Concern Levels

Two games into the 2018 season, Michigan State has sustained more than a few injuries that have already impacted the Spartans’ schemes, the team’s ability to execute on the field, and coaches’ strategic approach to the games ahead. What are the key injuries and what are our levels of concern?

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Michigan State entered the 2018 season with, perhaps, the best depth up and down the roster as any team Michigan State has fielded in decades.

The Spartans have strategically developed players with redshirt approaches while also selecting appropriate true freshman to be baptized by fire who then gain immediate, valuable experience on the field.

The combination of this approach has been a key factor in the development of the depth that the program has created.

There were many years prior to the Dantonio Era when Michigan State had much of the same talent levels as its Big Ten rivals – but those talent levels were limited to the two-deep and once injuries began to weaken that two-deep (which, of course, is inevitable), the Spartans began to wilt as the season progressed.

After Week 2 of this season, the 2018 Spartans already have suffered some injuries that have had an immediate impact on the team’s schemes and on-field execution.

Without any judgment as to how or why the injuries have been sustained – and, of course, with every wish that these guys are all able to recover as quickly as possible – we’re taking a look at the injuries and noting them in what we think is a bit of a “priority” order.

Every injury is a priority, of course.

But which of these are most important and have the biggest impact on what Michigan State is trying to do this season?

Take a look at our thoughts here –

Redshirt junior starting left tackle Cole Chewins

Chewins did not play in the home opener against Utah State due to an undisclosed injury.

However, Chewins started against Arizona State.

However…..Chewins was on the field for just one play. He immediately headed to the sideline and didn’t return for the remainder of the loss to the Sun Devils.

Mark Dantonio has suggested that the injury isn’t a long term issue and that he “tweaked” it in that opening play against Arizona State.

Forgetting for a moment Dantonio’s diagnosis and insistence that the situation shouldn’t be cause for long term concern, this is giving me long term concern.

Chewins is among the “best” of Michigan State’s beefeaters up front.

The Spartans need this guy.

Michigan State has demonstrated an inability to hammer away on short yardage situations so far this season and the problem has gotten even more troublesome when the team gets into the red zone.

The Spartans need every healthy, abled, veteran offensive lineman on the roster available because nobody wants to see me volunteer my eligibility and become the guy who has to handle Nick Bosa on the edge.

LEVEL OF CONCERNcomparable to the concern I had when several professors of mine (and by “several” I mean to say “every one of them”) suggested to me in 1992 and 1993 that if I continued to choose to spend the class time in locations that were not where the classes took place (such as The Peanut Barrel), my chances of graduating from Michigan State were extremely low.

Sophomore starting cornerback Josiah Scott

As we all know, Scott missed his second straight game to open the season after Dantonio announced early in fall camp he was sidelined due to an undisclosed leg injury.

Scott is expected to miss about the first four games of the season.

When this news was announced about sixteen minutes after Fall camp began, we pointed to the depth on the team and the secondary, in particular.

There isn’t any doubt that the Spartans’ secondary has all the potential in the world to be every bit as strong as Spartans fans envisioned it being prior to the season.

But after two games, the secondary is going to need to hold off on claiming No Fly Zone status since there has been a whole lot of leisure flying being done by weekend pilots out for casual jaunts through the wide open spaces.

Through the first three quarters of the game at Arizona State, the Spartans had done a very nice job of corralling one of the best wide receivers in the nation, N’Keal Harry.

Eventually, Manny Wilkins and Harry were able to leverage a one-on-one situation in which Justin Layne was over there with Harry split wide.

The touchdown pass Wilkins made to Harry was perfect.

The catch Harry made was special.

Sometimes the All-Everything guy is going to make the play.

However, after two weeks of allowing 300+ yards through the air, it’s clear that Michigan State is going to need a healthy and motivated Josiah Scott back on the field.

LEVEL OF CONCERNcomparable to the concern I had when one of my teeth created such pain in my mouth that it hurt to blink and then when I went to see my dentist he said, “My God – how long have you been walking around with only about 24% of your actual tooth remaining in the spot where 100% of a person’s tooth is usually recognized as being ‘normal’ to live with on a daily basis?”

5th year senior starting left guard David Beedle

In the 4th quarter against Arizona State, Beedle was cut down at the knees attempting to block on a screen pass on Michigan State’s final drive.

Beedle left the game on the next play and didn’t return to the field.

Mark Dantonio says this isn’t reason for long term concern – but I’d feel better if I saw Beedle out there making an essential and touchdown-allowing block on a 2nd and goal from the 6-yard line.

LEVEL OF CONCERNsimilar to the concern I used to have when the alarm would go off at 7:47a to wake me up for any of my 8a classes and I’d immediately turn off the alarm and go right back to sleep with concern in my mind that I was beginning to run out of days where I could just go back to sleep and not be present at whatever the 8a class happened to be.

Sophomore started defensive end Jacub Panasiuk

If you’re a reader of SpartansWire, you know that I asked Mark Dantonio about Jacub Panasiuk at Big Ten Media Days and Dantonio’s eyes lit up.

Dantonio showed the smirk that told me he believed Panasiuk was ready to emerge as the newest version of Kenny Willikes.

Panasiuk battled hard in the season opener and showed that he might be on the verge that the Dantonio smirk suggested.

However, Panasiuk did not travel with the team to Arizona State.

He suffered what appeared to be a shoulder or arm injury during the fourth quarter of the game against Utah State and didn’t return to the game.

Through two games, Michigan State has a total of four sacks.

Willikes has two sacks, Tre Person has one sack, and Joe Bachie has one sack.

We all know this – Michigan State must create far more of a push and get the opposing quarterback on the ground far more often than has been the case the last couple of seasons.

Last season was an improvement over 2016 (28 sacks in 2017 vs 11 in 2016).

But if the Spartans are going to compete for the Big Ten Championship, someone other than Kenny Willikes is going to have to will his way into the backfield and create chaos, pressure, and pile up sacks.

Panasiuk appears ready to become that guy – but he needs to be on the field in order to register sacks.

LEVEL OF CONCERNidentical to the feeling I used to have when I’d be at The Landshark and I’d be really starting to get the groove going and I’d reach into my pocket and realize I had zero dollars left in the pocket.  This was well before I had procured a credit card and my purchases – all of them – depended on the ability to utilize cash. And leaving the tavern to go find the one or two ATMs that were sprinkled along Grand River meant that I had to risk the chance that I’d have to stand in line again in order to get back into the joint. Do I go and try to get more cash? Do I plead with some friends for some money that they don’t have? Do I start to take guzzles from other people’s beers when the bottles or mugs are left on the bar and the owners’ of the bottles or the mugs aren’t looking?  Obviously, this entire situation was cause for concern.

5th year senior defensive end Dillon Alexander 

Alexander, like Panasiuk (although, perhaps with less of a significant expectation), has been a guy that we’ve seen as someone who can help with increased push and pressure from the edge.

He hasn’t played in either of the Spartans’ first two games.

And, he was spotted wearing a walking boot on his right foot.

Walking boots might be really comfortable and maybe the players even like wearing them since maybe a walking boot is really just a thing that gives the foot a constant and luxurious massage.

But I think that walking boots are indications that the foot inside of the walking boot is not particularly “healthy” or “injury-free.”

And even if Alexandar is able to remove the walking boot this week or next week, is he going to be at full strength?

If I had a “situation” that called for me to wear a walking boot and I was able to eventually remove the walking boot, I might not put weight on the foot that was in the walking boot for a year or so.

LEVEL OF CONCERNon December 24th, 2016, I walked out to my driveway to get into my car and drive to work.  As I approached the spot where I usually leave my car parked in my driveway, I saw that the car was not parked in the usual spot.  I stood there for a moment and wondered if I had, strangely, parked it elsewhere.  I was able to quickly determine I had not parked it elsewhere and that the car was missing.  I looked down in the spot on the driveway where the car would have been and I noticed that a twenty dollar bill was placed underneath a smallish rock.  It clicked – the car had been stolen.  The bandits cleverly – and rather impressively – left the twenty dollars which might have provided them with an argument that they had not “stolen” the car but rather had “purchased” the car.  The bottom line was that my car had been stolen.  I then dealt with the aftermath – and, the police did find the car – but the bandits are still out there.  The concern I had when I realized my car was stolen was meaningful.

Senior starting running back LJ Scott

What’s going on here?

Come on, dude.

LJ Scott appeared to suffer a leg injury early in the third quarter when he was split out as a receiver and came up limping out of his route.

Mark Dantonio said he didn’t think the situation was cause for long term concern.

LJ – LET’S GO, BUD.

TIME TO GET THIS THING GOING.

NOW.

LEVEL OF CONCERNvery similar to the concern I had midway through the second half of Michigan State’s opening round game in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament against Middle Tennessee State a couple of years ago.

5th year senior starting punter Jake Hartbarger

For anyone who might have missed it, yesterday we published this piece on how Rocky Lombardi needs to lock in and do whatever he can to fill the shoes that have been left open due to Jake Hartbarger’s unfortunate injury –

https://spartanswire.com/2018/09/12/losing-jake-hartbarger-rocky-has-big-shoes-to-fill/

Hartbarger will be out for six to eight weeks after suffering “a bone bruise or maybe a slight fracture” to his right leg, coach Mark Dantonio announced Tuesday.

More than anything else, we want Hartbarger to recover so he can get back to the business of readying himself for a long career in the NFL.

Maybe Hartbarger can end up redshirting this season and he’ll be able to work on a full recovery, come back in 2019 and demonstrate what he was already well on his way to demonstrating, and become an All American punter in advance of the long NFL career.

In the meantime, Rocky needs to come through.

LEVEL OF CONCERNsimilar to the concern I once had when I got to my hotel one time in Pittsburgh and realized I had left my computer on the plane that carried me to Pittsburgh.  It was about 1am when I arrived at the hotel and realized I was without my computer. I stood in my room for a moment, thinking about how a phone call to the airline would be like making a phone call to The Kremlin – and it dawned on me that maybe it’s still soon enough since my idiotic leaving of the computer that someone in a “lost and found” at the airport might be in the process of transporting it to where the things go that idiots leave on airplanes. I looked up (on my phone) “Pittsburgh Airport.” I dialed the number. A man answered the phone on the first ring and said, “AIRPORT.” I explained my problem. The main who answered the phone said to me, “Does your laptop have a giant Michigan State sticker on it that says STATE?”  I said, “Yes, it does.”  The man who answered the phone said, “Your computer is sitting on my desk right in front of me.”  The guy arranged for my computer to be delivered to my hotel and I had the thing within 45 minutes.

Thanks, Pittsburgh Airport.

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