Embed from Getty Images The Michigan State Spartans football team will reconvene Tuesday to start spring drills. After a season that fell well below expectations in East Lansing, the Spartans have more questions than answers.
First and foremost Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio, must find some offensive production to go along with one of the countries stingiest defenses. The Spartans offense was abysmal for long stretches last season.
Finding offensive linemen who can stay healthy and play with a united consistency will go along way in getting MSU quarterback Brian Lewerke back on track. The quarterback himself suffered an right shoulder injury against Penn State. He played through the pain and it showed.
In a very un- Michigan State season the Spartans finished 114th in rushing in the country. 124.8 yards per game. While the Spartans were hurt when starting running back LJ Scott missed most of the season due to injury. What hurt Michigan State most was lack of quality depth at the tailback position.
One thing for fans and media to monitor is in the Red Box Bowl loss to Oregon, Michigan State went to no-huddle, up-tempo offense. It is unclear if that is the direction Dantonio plans to explore more of.
While defense is not usually an issue, Michigan State does have some depth concern. Gone to graduation are defensive tackle Gerald Owens, safety Matt Morrissey, linbackers Byron Bullough and Grayson Miller along with defensive end Dillon Alexander. That is a lot to have to replace.
It is a real head scratcher that Dantonio did not bring in new coaches. But he simple reshuffled existing coaches already on his staff. There are time new coaches and fresh voices are what is needed. This is the single most fascinating part of the Spartans spring practice.
How will player react to the same coaches in a new role? Sometimes it goes bad. Once in a while it works for a short time.
Embed from Getty Images The Michigan Wolverines fan base is growing tired of asking Is this the year? It’s been 14 seasons since Michigan’s football team won a Big Ten title the longest drought in program history. Despite improvements made by Jim Harbaugh and his coaching staff the team still stumbled down the stretch.
March 17, is kickoff for Michigan’s spring practice. One of the top questions for the Wolverines is can the offense play with better balance and consistency? Another can they come up with defensive depth?
Wide receivers Donovan Peoples-Jones, Nico Collins and Tarik Black, (if he can stay healthy and on the field), headline a deep group of pass-catchers for the Wolverines. New offensive coordinator Josh Gattis has banged the “speed in space” drum since arriving in Ann Arbor.
The Wolverines have more than enough quality depth at running back even with the loss of Chris Evans who was dismissed by Harbaugh for undisclosed reasons. That should help starting quarterback Shea Patterson who has one full season under his belt.
The defensive front that has played a big role in Michigan’s success for most of the 2018 season has some players to replace. Electric pass-rusher Josh Uche, end Kwity Paye and defensive tackle Michael Dwumfour, who took a big step forward last season.That is the good news. The bad news is there is real concern at the lack of depth.
Michigan also has to replace all-everything linebacker Devin Smith. That will not be easy to do. His production will be very difficult to reproduce.
This is a big year for Harbaugh who was brought to Michigan to win championships. Fans are growing weary waiting for it to happen. Losing his first four shots at Ohio State makes Jim Harbaugh the first Michigan coach to do that is doing him no favors. He needs to solve Ohio State.
When Ohio State and Michigan meet November 30 Harbaugh will have yet another shot. Will it be his last? That is a good question as spring practice opens soon.
After what should have been a better season, Michigan now has to reload in some important positions. Young players must step in and step up. This is where coaches make their money.
Embed from Getty Images The Michigan State Spartans football team is looking to leave the 2018 season in the rear view mirror. After a disappointing 7-5 record the Spartans are looking to regroup as spring football practice inches closer.
The number one most pressing question for the Spartans is will the offense show improvement? Coming off a season in which the offense was hampered by a totally depleted offensive line due to injuries and inconsistent play as well as at wide receiver and eventually at quarterback it was too much for the Spartans to overcome.
Quarterback Brian Lewerke regressed. In 2017 Lewerke threw for 2,793 yards, 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions . Meanwhile, Lewerke passed for 2,040 yards, eight touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 2018. Michigan State needs better production at the quarterback position.
Michigan State ranked No. 114 in rush yards per game last season. Again the offensive line was beat up in all fairness. Brad Salem is moving to offensive coordinator and as of this moment it is unclear as to what his offensive philosophy will be.
Michigan State needs a fresh approach and to break free from what had become a somewhat predictable offense. That is what Salem is tasked with. It is a new system that can push the Spartans forward.
For the Spartans to shake the bad 2018 season the offensive line must both stay healthy and become a more consistent group. The lone returning starter from last seasons line is David Beedle.
Devontae Dobbs, is a five-star recruit from the 2019 class. Look for Dobbs to push for a starting job early in spring practice.
Michigan State really has little to no issues on defense or special teams. But the woeful inconsistent play from the offense needs to come to an end. Quarterback Brian Lewerke needs to regain his touch. If those things happen the Spartans will be in the thick of the Big Ten race.
Michigan State needs better balance. They can no longer rely solely on the defense to bail them out. The 2019 football schedule includes a brutal three game stretch for the Spartans. Ohio State, Wisconsin and Penn State all in a row.
It all starts to take shape when spring practice begins.