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2010 Michigan State Football

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  • Friday, January 15th: Last day underclassmen (Greg Jones) can declare for the NFL draft
  • Wednesday, February 3rd: National Signing Day
  • Tuesday, March 23rd: Start of Spring Practice

CoachDantonio.com | The Official Site of Michigan State Football Coach Mark Dantonio

The Official Site of Michigan State's Greg Jones

SCHEDULE

(home games in bold)

Sept. 4 WESTERN MICHIGAN

Sept. 11 Florida Atlantic (Ford Field in Detroit)

Sept. 18 NOTRE DAME

Sept. 25 NORTHERN COLORADO

Oct. 2 WISCONSIN

Oct. 9 at Michigan

Oct. 16 ILLINOIS

Oct. 23 at Northwestern

Oct. 30 at Iowa

Nov. 6 MINNESOTA

Nov. 13 Off

Nov. 20 PURDUE

Nov. 27 at Penn State

Five most surprising players

1. The secondary - We said it would be the strength of the defense and perhaps the team. We couldn't have been more wrong. All that experience and depth didn't help MSU communicate, cover or tackle well enough.

2. Keshawn Martin - His early struggles to catch the ball were surprising. He went quiet for a bit. Then he became arguably the Big Ten's most explosive all-purpose threat in the second half of the season, another surprise.

3. D.J. Young - The Sexton grad transferred from Bowling Green, joined the team as a non-scholarship player and promptly earned himself a spot in the starting lineup. Young will be an anchor of that line in 2010.

4. Brian Linthicum - With so many talented tight ends on the roster, there was no telling how much of an impact the Clemson transfer would make. Ultimately, he was the smoothest pass catcher of the bunch.

5. Colin Neely - Oft-injured and overlooked before the 2009 season, Neely was a powerful player who was a big part of MSU's solid run defense. Walk-on end Johnathan Strayhorn deserves mention here as well.

Five players who could emerge in 2010

1. Chris Norman - Don't be fooled by Norman's minimal impact as a true freshman. He has all the tools and will start at outside linebacker as a sophomore. With a stronger body and a better grasp of the defense, he can be a key piece.

2. Johnny Adams - Adams fell behind some of MSU's veteran cornerbacks and redshirted. He needs more strength as well. But as seen in 2008, he has the speed and ball skills this secondary needs.

3. Tyler Hoover - Several players will get a chance to remedy MSU's glaring lack of front-four pass rush in 2009. Hoover should be ready as a third-year sophomore in 2010 to be part of the solution. He can move.

4. Edwin Baker - Baker's Alamo Bowl performance showed why the entire world recruited him. Early in the season, a healing knee kept Baker sidelined. If he's fully healthy in 2010, watch out.

5. Henry Conway - MSU's players can't stop talking about the 6-6, 306-pound freshman tackle, who redshirted this season. It looks like Conway will have a chance to start in the fall.

Top five most valuable players

1. GREG JONES - It may seem strange to give this to a defensive player on a struggling defense, but imagine that defense without Jones. It would have had zero pass rush, for one thing. He was the guy opponents feared most.

2. BRETT SWENSON - Teammates voted Swenson their MVP in a mild surprise, but it's a choice that can be defended. The presence of a sure-thing kicker has a calming effect on an entire team.

3. JEREL WORTHY - The redshirt freshman is such a force on the interior, it only took a few games before teams started paying him more attention. Worthy has All-America and NFL ability.

4. KIRK COUSINS - Cousins guided one of the most prolific passing offenses in MSU history, despite an erratic running game, and became this team's vocal leader. He wasn't perfect, but he was a sophomore.

5. BLAIR WHITE - B.J. Cunningham and Keshawn Martin also were big playmakers, but White gets the nod because of his consistent ability to get open and make catches that moved the chains.

Position breakdowns

• Quarterback: You can't rule out the possibility of Keith Nichol having a great offseason and making another run at Cousins. But it's not like Cousins is going to stand pat. He should be one of the Big Ten's best quarterbacks in the next two seasons. Meanwhile, redshirt freshman Andrew Maxwell looks like a future player, and touted true freshman Joe Boisture arrives.

• Running back: Caper and Edwin Baker are the top two and will battle for carries. Both should be better as sophomores. Watch out for true freshman Nick Hill, a diminutive slasher with designs on immediate playing time. MSU needs more physicality at this position - which former Spartan Glenn Winston provided briefly. A position of depth in 2009, it will be a smaller group in 2010.

• Wide receiver: Blair White is gone, but this should still be one of the best collections of pass catchers in the Big Ten. Expect Cunningham and Mark Dell back from suspension after their legal situation is resolved. Those two and Martin form a talented trio. And Nichol could factor in here. Tight ends Gantt, Brian Linthicum and Dion Sims are back. Young wideouts Bennie Fowler and Donald Spencer also could emerge.

• Offensive line: This is the key and the toughest position to project. MSU loses three fifth-year seniors from the starting lineup. Young likely will move to the left side. Henry Conway appears to be the next tackle. There are plenty of promising young interior linemen, such as Ethan Ruhland, Chris McDonald and Nate Klatt, who could wedge into the starting group. MSU also has fifth-year senior John Stipek as an option at center.

• Specialists: The graduation of all-time kicker Brett Swenson removes a four-year security blanket from MSU's offense. The Spartans could always count on a field goal from the 25 and in. Kevin Muma, who redshirted this season, is the frontrunner to replace Swenson. Aaron Bates is back for his senior season after three solid years of punting. Unsung hero Alex Shackleton, the reliable long snapper, will be a senior.

Position breakdowns

• Defensive line: Graduating defensive end Trevor Anderson says this group will be "10 times better" than the 2009 version, and the potential for growth is definitely there despite the loss of Anderson. Blake Treadwell and Kevin Pickelman round out a strong foursome inside. The question is, will MSU get pressure off the edge? Hoover and David Rolf have potential. So do newcomers Corey Freeman, Denzel Drone and Will Gholston.

• Linebacker: This unit will be a strong point if Greg Jones stays for his senior year, or a major question mark if he leaves. If it's true that he won't bolt without a first-round assurance, expect him back. Gordon is a senior who has improved each season, and Norman should be ready, after an offseason of lifting, to make a difference on the field. The speed is there. Several promising young players, such as Steve Gardiner, provide depth.

• Secondary: Danny Fortener, Jeremy Ware, Ross Weaver and Kendell Davis-Clark are gone. Roderick Jenrette would have started next season, but he's out. Robinson and Hyde are the incumbent starters, but don't be shocked if redshirt freshmen Jairus Jones and Denicos Allen challenge. Adams has the talent to be a very good corner next season, Rucker will be solid at the least, and redshirt freshman corner Dana Dixon has coaches excited.

A dozen of Michigan State's 22 regular offensive and defensive starters in 2009 were recruited to East Lansing by former coach John L. Smith.

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Eight of them were seniors, meaning that Mark Dantonio will rely mostly on players he recruited to win football games in 2010.

The offensive line, saying good-bye to a trio of fifth-year seniors, likely will be all his. The same is true of the skill players on offense and as many as 10 starters on defense.

That defense is the focal point as the Spartans look back on a 6-7 season and toward what they hope will be a better 2010. MSU's experienced defenders were supposed to carry the team while an inexperienced offense jelled - but instead the Spartans got plenty of offensive production and too many defensive breakdowns.

"Well I evaluate things over the course of years, not just one game or one season. Over the course of time," Dantonio said of the defense after Saturday's 41-31 Alamo Bowl loss to Texas Tech. "You know, guys have got to make plays, we've got to be able to call the right defense at times. But there's always gonna be a strength and a weakness of every defense. And it's gonna be exploited and attacked.

"How I would evaluate it, we need to be better, obviously. I don't think there's any question about that. We have to play better, we have to coach better. But that's something we work on as a team in the offseason and move forward. And I'm very, very confident that we'll do that."

History lesson

The fourth and fifth years of a coaching tenure are when the building process is supposed to start yielding the desired results. Dantonio is 22-17 in three seasons - following a 14-21 mark under Smith in the previous three - and he has reached bowl games in all three.

The only other coaches in MSU history to achieve three-year bowl streaks are George Perles and Nick Saban, the two most successful coaches at MSU since the glory days of Duffy Daugherty.

Perles was 17-17-1 in his first three seasons, went 6-5 in his fourth and then took MSU to the Big Ten title and 1988 Rose Bowl in his fifth.

Saban - with Dantonio as his defensive backs coach - was 19-16-1 in his first three seasons, suffering blowout losses in three bowl games.

MSU went 6-6 and missed on a bowl bid in his disappointing fourth season, then went 10-2 in a fifth season that ended with Saban leaving for LSU and Bobby Williams coaching a Citrus Bowl win over Florida.

Iowa and Wisconsin are two programs Dantonio has cited as being models for what he hopes to do in East Lansing.

Kirk Ferentz was 11-24 in his first three seasons at Iowa, but the Hawkeyes went 11-2 in his fourth, winning a share of the Big Ten title and losing to USC in the Orange Bowl.

Barry Alvarez was 11-22 in his first three seasons at Wisconsin, then led the Badgers to a 10-1-1 record, Big Ten title and Rose Bowl victory in his fourth.

Few will project such lofty achievements for the Spartans in 2010, but Dantonio believes "good things are around the corner" for his program.

"I see so much young talent on the team and I would tell them to work as much as you can in the offseason," senior cornerback Ross Weaver said after forcing a fumble and picking off a pass in his final game. "Don't let certain things happen that would prevent you from having a better season."

Assessing 2010

The 2010 team should benefit from a schedule with no road games until Oct. 9 at Michigan - and no trips out of the state until Oct. 23 at Northwestern.

The Spartans will have a great chance to be 4-0 entering the Big Ten opener at home against Wisconsin, which should be among the league's favorites in 2010.

Most of the skill players who made up one of the Big Ten's best offenses are expected back for MSU. They'll work behind a rebuilt line.

That may be a good thing, though. Dantonio's recruits are finally getting their turn at the position, where it takes longest to develop players.

MSU did not run the ball as consistently as it would have liked in 2009. Hulking prospects such as freshman tackle Henry Conway have turned heads in practice.

"Oh, Conway, he's looking awesome," said D.J. Young, who likely will move from right tackle to left tackle as a senior. "I mean awesome."

The Spartans have a huge right shoe to fill at place kicker, where Brett Swenson takes the all-time MSU records in field goals and scoring with him.

And then there's the defense. The first question is whether Greg Jones will return for his senior season at middle linebacker.

He has until the Jan. 15 deadline to declare early for the NFL. Jones said he likely won't go unless he is forecast to go in the first round, and most analysts don't have him there at this point.

The next question is whether the Spartans will stop the pass. It starts with better pass rush and ends with better play from the defensive backs.

"It's just communication problems and plays being made on the ball," Weaver said. "There's no special formula ... just internal things, coaches have put us in position to make plays and people haven't made (enough) plays."

MSU football: Defense looms as big issue | greenandwhite.com | Lansing State Journal

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Big visit weekend closing out this week as well...

A nice group of uncommitted and committed prospects will be in East Lansing. Among the potentials: DL Jibreel Black (former Cincy verbal), DB Mike Dorsey and DE/LB Davion Rogers (both WVU verbals that are looking around), DT Bruce Gatson, OT Eric Franklin, OL Alex Lewis, DT Roney Lazano. I like the "strategy" of having them come in with a big group of MSU verbals (Gholston, Schofner, Hicks, Rush, Langford, Jackson, Lewis etc...) to give the kids an idea about potential future teammates' personalities, make-up etc.

Dantonio has noted numerous times, how he prefers post-season visits of this sort. Provides more time for interaction with and among the recruits, there's a home basketball game against UI (with premature first place Big Ten Standing perhaps at stake)...Now let's just haul some in.

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Big visit weekend closing out this week as well...

A nice group of uncommitted and committed prospects will be in East Lansing. Among the potentials: DL Jibreel Black (former Cincy verbal), DB Mike Dorsey and DE/LB Davion Rogers (both WVU verbals that are looking around), DT Bruce Gatson, OT Eric Franklin, OL Alex Lewis, DT Roney Lazano. I like the "strategy" of having them come in with a big group of MSU verbals (Gholston, Schofner, Hicks, Rush, Langford, Jackson, Lewis etc...) to give the kids an idea about potential future teammates' personalities, make-up etc.

Dantonio has noted numerous times, how he prefers post-season visits of this sort. Provides more time for interaction with and among the recruits, there's a home basketball game against UI (with premature first place Big Ten Standing perhaps at stake)...Now let's just haul some in.

There is specualtion that Corey Cooper and Kyle Prater will be in on the 15th as well... I guess Roushar wen't and met with Cooper recently and Prater is interested in playing in a Pro Style Offense... its a 0.1% chance, but better than 0.0%.

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There is specualtion that Corey Cooper and Kyle Prater will be in on the 15th as well... I guess Roushar wen't and met with Cooper recently and Prater is interested in playing in a Pro Style Offense... its a 0.1% chance, but better than 0.0%.

As I understand it, Cooper is a lock for this weekend.

Ps. 'Lock', as in, he'll definitely be there.

Edited by lionstigersand...

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There is specualtion that Corey Cooper and Kyle Prater will be in on the 15th as well... I guess Roushar wen't and met with Cooper recently and Prater is interested in playing in a Pro Style Offense... its a 0.1% chance, but better than 0.0%.

Whoa...I keep fairly close tabs on recruiting and didn't realize how big this weekend was. Those are some really legit kids coming in. If we could land two or three (Cooper!) that'd be great.

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Prater is visiting?! Holy mother.

Speculation... I don't think it will happen. Cooper sounds like he is definitely coming in though and our D needs a lot of help... especially that Secondary...

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Yeah, we could definitely use a top flight DB. I was just distracted by news about the #2 player in the country possibly taking a visit to EL :-).

It would be hard to believe, though, since we weren't in his top 5, and probably not even close. Who knows.

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Yeah, we could definitely use a top flight DB. I was just distracted by news about the #2 player in the country possibly taking a visit to EL :-).

It would be hard to believe, though, since we weren't in his top 5, and probably not even close. Who knows.

I guess they went to Proviso West/East respectively and Prater wants to play in a a Pro Style Offense. Other than that, we have no shot... I think we have a better chance of going back in time than signing him... still fun to think about.

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Hopefully he takes the Nard Dog with him.

But seriously, I hope someone on MSU's staff was taking notes. This guy was a hell of a recruiter....maybe he'll stick around for the weekend yet :cheeky:

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Sept. 4 WESTERN MICHIGAN

Sept. 11 Florida Atlantic (Ford Field in Detroit)

Sept. 18 NOTRE DAME

Sept. 25 NORTHERN COLORADO

Oct. 2 WISCONSIN

Oct. 9 at Michigan

Oct. 16 ILLINOIS

Oct. 23 at Northwestern

Oct. 30 at Iowa

Nov. 6 MINNESOTA

Nov. 13 Off

Nov. 20 PURDUE

Nov. 27 at Penn State

6-6

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Offseason Arrest Predictions

Larry Caper - Assault

Nate Klatt - Drug Dealing

Jerel Worthy - DUI

Keshawn Martin - Grand Theft

DJ Young - Drunk In Public

Dave Warner - DUI

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Offseason Arrest Predictions

Larry Caper - Assault

Nate Klatt - Drug Dealing

Jerel Worthy - DUI

Keshawn Martin - Grand Theft

DJ Young - Drunk In Public

Dave Warner - DUI

USC - death penalty?

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This was one of MSU's most disapointing seasons. I saw a website that had MSU at 12-0 this year based on the odds on each of their games individually. I knew they wouldn't be that good but figured 8-4 would be quite possible.

Instead they finished 1/2 game ahead of Michigan for the overall record. It looks like Michigan will now pass up the Spartans again after the Wolverines 2 year hiatus.

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This was one of MSU's most disapointing seasons. I saw a website that had MSU at 12-0 this year based on the odds on each of their games individually. I knew they wouldn't be that good but figured 8-4 would be quite possible.

Instead they finished 1/2 game ahead of Michigan for the overall record. It looks like Michigan will now pass up the Spartans again after the Wolverines 2 year hiatus.

Nobody in their right mind could predict 12-0...I don't care what methodology they used. I predicted 8 wins in my football pick'em, and took that prediction over to the MSU Rivals board, where it was greeted with...Well, let's go with disapproval.

Regardless, it was a disappointing campaign by any objective or subjective measure.

As for your last sentence, I'd take that bet...

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Instead they finished 1/2 game ahead of Michigan for the overall record. It looks like Michigan will now pass up the Spartans again after the Wolverines 2 year hiatus.

Except we finished 3 games ahead in the big ten standings. I don't know how a 1-7 record makes you think that team will pass anyone next year.

Or maybe Michigan wasn't a 1-7 team, they were a 7-1 team without a defense :cheeky:

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Except we finished 3 games ahead in the big ten standings. I don't know how a 1-7 record makes you think that team will pass anyone next year.

Maybe the fact Michigan almost beat you this year in your home stadium.

The streak is over at 2 wins. :wink:

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