Depth Will Allow Spartans To Rise To The Challenge

Depth Will Allow Spartans To Rise To The Challenge

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Depth Will Allow Spartans To Rise To The Challenge

Michigan State is being challenged by a growing list of injured Spartans. As we said prior to the season, MSU has more depth than the program has had in a long time and that depth is now being tested.

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It’s the current issue that’s giving The Alarmists, The Extremists, and The Fatalists plenty of meat on the bone as they search for reasons to point to the sky that’s falling over their heads.

We’re not talking about Michigan State’s inability to effectively run the ball.

We’re not talking about Michigan State’s inability to shut down opponents’ offensive air attacks.

We’re not talking about the Spartans’ struggles with unforced errors.

We’re not referring to Brian Lewerke’s inability to be Tom Brady.

Those items are certainly part of what gives The Loud Talkers the ability to fill up air time on their important radio broadcasts.

Today we’re focusing on one other item that is giving The Loud Talkers material to fill up the first four broadcast blocks of their programs with ammunition and fodder.

The Spartans have a M*A*S*H* unit that is working overtime in East Lansing and it’s keeping The Loud Talkers very busy.

It might just be a legitimate topic for The Loud Talkers.

However, way back in the early days of August when Fall Camp was starting, we took time to examine how this Michigan State team was entering the 2018 season with, perhaps, stronger and more meaningful depth up and down the roster than any Spartan team in memory.

Refresh yourself with this piece here –

https://spartanswire.com/2018/08/03/were-deep-right-now-and-its-fun/

Joe Bachie said it at the time – “We’re deep right now – and it’s fun.”

Joe Bachie (he’s never just “Bachie” – he’s always “Joe Bachie”) was right then and he’s still right.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Since budding superstar Cody White’s broken hand is the latest injury to keep The Alarmists up all night, let’s revisit what we said back when Fall Camp was kicking off –

Wide Receiver and Tight End:

Felton Davis, Cody White, Cam Chambers, Darrell Stewart, Matt Sokol, Brandon Sowards, Noah Davis, Matt Dotson, Chase Gianacakos, Laress Nelson, Matt Seybert.

Aside from potential future NFLers Davis and White, the units are loaded with guys that have played winning football.

Today, that list of receivers has more than just a few bumps and bruises.

However, is it okay to mention that Felton Davis is still Felton Davis?

Cam Chambers and Darrell Stewart have been nicked up a bit but Mark Dantonio let it be known that those guys will be back on the field immediately.

And our analysis from August didn’t include Jalen Nailor.

The tight ends have not become a meaningful part of the offense but we’re saying that before too long, Matt Dotson, Matt Sokol, and Chase Gianacakos will all become factors just around the time when everyone has forgotten their names.

Regarding Stewart, Chambers, and Nailor not playing this past Saturday against Central Michigan – is it okay to say out loud that Mark Dantonio saw the contest against the Chippewas as an opportunity to rest a few guys, keep them from tweaking anything during a game that looked like there was a very good chance of being a victory, and being back to good status with the receiving unit once the Big Ten season kicked back in?

OFFENSIVE LINE

The offensive line has been a work in progress for any number of reasons since before the season started.

Cole Chewins, Luke Campbell, and Kevin Jarvis have all been banged up and the transition at center hasn’t gone as smoothly as the Spartans would have liked.

But there is reason to take a look back again at our analysis on the roster’s depth, particularly regarding the offensive line –

Offensive Line:

Tyler Higby, Cole Chewins, David Beedle, AJ Acuri, Luke Campbell, Kevin Jarvis, Jordan Reid, Noah Listermann, and Matt Allen.

That list doesn’t include a collection of freshmen and redshirt freshmen ready to learn.

The main batch of beefeaters that make up Michigan State’s offensive line are versatile, athletic, fast, and experienced and it makes for a unit that has interchangeable parts that will provide……depth.

Nobody is going to argue that the offensive line is a strength for this team at this point.

However, it’s the depth that is allowing the unit to continue to work towards a rhythm, a consistent lineup, and an ability to improve from week to week.

The 160 yards against Central Michigan shouldn’t make anyone think that the unit has arrived – but offensive line coach Mark Staten is doing a nice job of adjusting, tweaking, refining, and juggling the various parts that are allowing him to keep the progress happening.

It’s the depth that’s allowing all of this to occur with this offensive line.

RUNNING BACK

LJ Scott has been nicked up and has yet to look like LJ SCOTT – but, we advocated for him to stay off the field this past Saturday against Central Michigan in order to allow guys like La’Darius Jefferson to gain valuable experience while continuing to get back to full strength for the meat of the schedule.

Obviously, Mark Dantonio listened to us – he listens to everyone who offers unsolicited expertise on how he should attack the problems that he can’t seem to fix.

What did we say about the depth at running back in August?

Running Back and Fullback:

LJ Scott, Connor Heyward, and redshirt freshman Weston Bridges.  Plus Reid Burton, Ben Line, Collin Lucas, and Max Rosenthal all ready to provide power at fullback.

That’s a unit that’s fully loaded.

We didn’t even include Jefferson in our analysis then – which was stupid.

How about the block that Max Rosenthal made on the touchdown run that Jefferson had to make the score 31-3 in Saturday’s game against Central Michigan?

Like the offensive line – and in concert with the offensive line – the running back gang is slowly but surely finding the room and improving.

With a healthy and hungry LJ Scott – and, preferably the LJ SCOTT version – there is reason to believe that this part of the team will only improve as the season progresses.

The unit has benefited greatly from its depth.

SECONDARY

On defense, there are less major issues related to injuries – however, the secondary has had to rely on the depth that we examined back in August –

Secondary:

Khari Willis, David Dowell, Josh Butler, Justin Layne, Dominique Long, Tre Person, Josiah Scott – and brand new faces like Shakur Brown, Kalon Gervin, and Xavier Henderson.

We loved Jaren Hayes – but he wouldn’t get a sniff among this unit of guys that are ready to become one of the best secondaries in the nation.

The Jaren Hayes reference was due to the anecdote we shared in that piece that recalled John L Smith’s program having zero depth and the cause for the 5’10” Hayes (he was listed at 5’10” but I suspect he was closer to 5’6″) needing to do his best to cover behemoths like UMAA’s Braylon Edwards – unsuccessfully.

The Spartans have missed Josiah Scott.

The secondary has surrendered a lot of yards through the air.

This Saturday against Northwestern – an offense that piled up 368 yards through the air last year against Michigan State, mostly with crossing routes and underneath dunks – will be a real test for this unit.

The depth within this unit has kept the Spartans from being anything worse than 3-1 at this point and did a nice job against Indiana.

And it’s worth saying it again – Justin Layne will be playing in the NFL one day, he bottled up Arizona State’s All Universe man N’Keal Harry for all but two plays and while the Sun Devils won that ball game on the final play of the game, it wasn’t as if Michigan State was roughed up by an air attack that caused the Spartans to question their existence – Michigan State should have won the game.

And so, if we look back at the thoughts we had prior to the season starting with regard to overall depth, it’s fair to say that the depth is paying off right now.

The depth is going to need to hold steady, play winning football, continue to improve, and rise to the occasion as the season gets real.

Thanks to the way in which the depth has been tested already through four games, the Spartans who are being relied on to play winning football have, in fact, done so and can be expected to do more of just that.

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