The War Room: Go Inside #5 Michigan State Football
I get a lot of nuggets and information that alone are not big enough for a story. When I have a few that I can assemble together I will, and when I only have one or two I will post them on our Phalanx Forum board. So welcome to The War Room.
- I reported last November that Brian Lewerke, Khari Willis, and Joe Bachie would be captains. As you know that happened. It is NOT a testimony to me, it is a testimony to the three of them to have separated themselves from the pack.
- MSU is a 23 point favorite against Utah State. That seems about right. I am NOT a betting man, but Dantonio’s mantra this camp has been, “We have to have more points.”
- If you do not have a winged helmet or are a Nittany Lion, Dantonio is not one to run up the score. Remember that.
- You should wish Austin Andrews a fond fair well as he transfers. A good person that simply wasn’t good enough to play here, but still has the passion for the game. I love the passion and hope he does great in his next spot. The only shock with this is that he waited until after camp. The conventional wisdom was that he would leave prior to or even early spring.
- Tyriq Thompson is going to play a lot of football for MSU over his career. NOBODY and I mean NOBODY on this team took as big of a leap from the end of spring to today. Credit his work ethic and total dedicated want to. Great story.
- I had a good laugh when Mark Dantonio at the end of camp told the media it was, “Very good.” Dantonio is NO liar, but he sure can undersell. This was the best camp of the Dantonio era and after the third scrimmage, the OL had peaked.
- That doesn’t mean the OL was perfect or lacking room to improve, but rarely has an MSU OL come out of camp this far along. Mark Staten has done this camp what more than one person has called, “Masterful” work. They aren’t getting a lot of attention, but keep your eyes open on the OL next Friday.
- Ever since Dantonio arrived he has taken a break at the end of camp. They broke on Thursday and will return Sunday at 4 PM. He described it as, “We’ll give them a couple days off here to get their legs back,” and he is right.
- This camp was very physical. Dantonio has depth and by depth, I mean a boatload of great players. They were able to really grind and the guys felt it physically and mentally.
- Coach Ken Mannie had this team in superior shape. While guys will always get hurt, this team is a super shape physically. There are some guys nicked up, but that is expected. Overall they are in good health.
- MSU at every position on offense, defense, and special teams could lose their first string and still be bowl eligible. That hasn’t been the case since the playoff season. Yes, they are that deep.
- While there is a ton of talk about freshman, remember that this team is loaded. Depending on who leaves early for the NFL, this team could be FAR SUPERIOR next year. If a true freshman doesn’t redshirt this year, you know they are star players.
- One name getting a lot of attention on defense is Jack Camper. Powerful, strong, resilient and relentless are all words coaches and teammates have used to describe him. Get used to hearing his name this fall.
- On offense, Matt Dotson is a name not getting a lot of attention that should be. Matt Sokol is a brutal TE at the point of attack. Simply a stone cold killer. Dotson is not there as physically on the OL, but he has soft hands and is the best pass catcher since Josiah Price. In fact, many inside think he could be better. This does not rule out the other very talented TE’s, but Dotson and Sokol are a solid combo.
- Dotson is a super kid and is loved by his teammates. He is a name that rolls off the lips of his teammates anytime you ask about guys on and off the field that are impressing them.
- Josiah Scott is an NFL talent and no doubt a loss for the Spartans. They would love to see him back no later than the CMU game. That allows him a game to get the rust off before a big battle with Northwestern. It could be sooner.
- Josh Butler, Shakur Brown and Tre Person have all had good camps. All are solid. Butler is more experienced, but he is getting pushed and Person or Brown could overtake him with solid play early. Watching those three keep Scott’s seat warm until he returns is going to be fun.
- Dantonio said of the three, “Tre Person's having a good year, a good summer camp. Josh Butler's been very solid. I think that Shakur Brown is a guy that has made plays as well. So, those three guys really are sort of picking up the slack there.”
- Speaking of unsung names, don’t forget WR Cam Chambers. He is an under the radar guy, but he turned on the steam coming down the stretch at camp that had many people watching. One person told me, “He made some highlight catches the last 10 days that made you really say wow. Looked like Roy Williams the former Texas WR.”
- If Chambers keeps that up, that would give MSU four big-time wideouts in an offense that has their head coach continually reminding them, “We need to score points.”
- MSU will play Oregon in Oregon on September 7, 2030. The Spartans are going to get paid $400,000. The will pay the Ducks the same amount when they play here in East Lansing on September 8, 2029.
- We live in a TMZ culture that is always looking for scandal. Just look at much of slanted coverage of MSU athletics as of late. With that said the emergence of Tyler Higby is NOT because Matt Allen has failed. Not even close. Allen is a solid and good player. It is a testimony to Higby and Allen doesn’t deserve any disrespect and Higby deserves more than he is getting.
- No one was talking about Weston Bridges over the last year, other than Spartan Nation. Moments after the first two scrimmages when we started getting the reports on the MSU RB, it was clear that he was back. He has shown a lot of burst and frankly some gutsy toughness.
- While others have slept on Bridges he has just kept grinding. He is reminding a lot of people of former RB Larry Caper and do not sell him short.
- Look for DC Mike Tressel to start the season in the press box. There has been speculation about that in the media, but there isn’t internally.
- Recruiting for MSU has not slowed down per say, but it has changed. MSU has heard from some OSU heavily leaning players and what happens in the fall out in Columbus? Secondly, UM’s season starts with rival Note Dame and they have five games that they could lose all five. Not saying they will or that they couldn’t lose in another upset that isn’t projected. MSU is close to full with recruiting that they are battling OSU and UM for watching the goings-on.
- OL Kevin Jarvis is a man-child. Pure 100% beast.
- According to one NFL scout, MSU P Jake Hartbarger is, “Unable to unleash the full capacity of his leg on 64.7% of his kicks because of where he is kicking from. Per the scout, “That is one of the highest percentages in the nation as long as I have been a scout.”
- Brandon Randle has all of the physical tools to be a freak of nature. Once he masters the instincts look out.
- Jeslord Boateng may not make a big impression this season. But he is EVERYTHING the Spartans hoped he would be. He has shown flashes of straight up stardom.
- I expect Jon Reschke to make a move towards the starting lineup around the CMU/Northwestern game.
- Naquan Jones is a young man I have great expectations for in 2018. The DT can do a lot and he is healthy. They would love to get him a, “Ton of reps,” early and often in pre-Big Ten play.
- Dashaun Mallory is a load at DT. The true freshman is intriguing. He would benefit with a redshirt, but he is a Haloti Ngata type player. How others develop will impact him, but that young man is strong like a bull and has a relentless motor for a man that size.
- Lastly the new staff. To have added these many new coaches and to have it be a massive upgrade and seamless is a testimony to Dantonio.
- Look out folks, 2018 is going to be special. Real special. Grab the popcorn and hold on.
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