Answering your Michigan State Football Questions and Emails…

Darian Hicks and Vayante Copeland 2016.
Darian Hicks and Vayante Copeland 2016.

Hi Hondo, looking ahead to the future here. I recently had the opportunity to listen to PJ Fleck at a coaching clinic. I absolutely love this guy's energy, passion and the way he runs his program at Western Michigan. To the point where I'd add him to the watch list of possible successors for Dantonio when that time comes. Pat Eufrasio from Chicago.

PJ is a very good coach and a friend. I am one who does not think Mark Dantonio’s leaving is imminent. I think that day is still several years away based on some things I am not at liberty to discuss at this time. What I will say is who knows how P.J.’s career continues to go for several years, but if for some unforeseen reason it was to happen within the next two or three years I see zero chance of that.

Hondo, you asked Mark Dantonio as his first question at media day about Chris Frey not being the #1 on the depth chart. I had heard from other media that he was at best a “Backup” and “serviceable” player. So why would you ask that? I trust you had a reason so I am just curious. Jason in Laingsburg

Mark Dantonio (head coach) and DC Mike Tressel along with MLB Riley Bullough and SAM LB Jon Reschke all talked with Spartan Nation during and after last spring about Frey. After the first day of spring he played as the #1 STAR LB for the entire spring and after spring all of those gentlemen I mentioned discussed Frey being the starter. I don’t follow what other media say, but I do follow what the coaches and players are saying. By the way, after you saw me ask that question on TV, I Tweeted out that DC Mike Tressel sent word to me that Frey was the co #1 starter at STAR and it was an oversight on his part. Hope that helps.

Hondo, Please tell me that no one inside the Duffy Daugherty/Skandalaris building is in fear of Coach Harbaugh and UM. The local and national media have gone bonkers in their coverage of him. The press has also basically anointed him king of the Big Ten. Sadly, too many Spartans have bought into the hype. UM can only go up under Coach Harbaugh, but as long as we have AD Hollis and Coach D, we will be fine. Agreed? Dan from Chicago

There is great respect (as there should be) for Coach Harbaugh and zero fear.

Hondo, last season the OL took a beating because of injuries. How is the health heading into this year? Carol in Traverse City

Terrific. Had one of the best offensive lines in Spartan history heading into the season last year and they were absolutely devastated by injury. They are a legitimate nine deep with quality players this season and while some are projecting the OL as a concern, I see it as nothing but a place of high expectation.

Hondo, can you tell me two names on offense, defense and special teams that people aren’t talking about now, but you think they will by the end of the year? Crystal K. Manton, MI

Sure I can. On offense, I think David Beedle on the OL and Darrell Stewart at the WR will be talked about. Beedle is a man child beast and Stewart may have been the best WR on the team last year, but the staff fought to keep the redshirt on because he emerged late and didn’t want to waste him. I know you only asked for two names, but I have a third on offense as well. Prescott Line is a graduate transfer from SMU and he will give a big push at FB. On defense, Evan Jones on the DL is being overlooked and Vayante Copeland is being ignored. Copeland is a star. On special teams Michael Geiger is back to his freshman form after playing injured nearly the entire year last season. Geiger’s leg is so strong and booming right now that one of his teammates told me last week, “Kevin (Cronin) has done great kicking, but Geigs is out-kicking him. I bet he even gives Kevin a run for that job too.” One other name is Collin Caflisch. He is pushing hard for the LS spot and his teammates are really bragging about his performance this off season. He will be pushed by true freshman Bradley Robinson, but he has the love of his team right now.

Hondo, I have waited with great expectations for Enoch Smith to emerge. As you know he has not. Can you tell me what has happened and do you anticipate a big year from him this year? Derek in Chicago

He is a redshirt sophomore who has struggled to play because of injury. Sadly, if a young man isn’t healthy (no fault of his own), he isn’t going to play. They miss key reps and when they get back they are really behind those that don’t miss time. He is listed as third on the depth chart, but remember that that doesn’t take into account a graduate transfer in Kevin Williams and two true freshmen with one of them almost certainly going to play. I like Smith, but I do not anticipate a big year for him. Doesn’t mean I am rooting against him, I am simply trying to give you an honest answer.

Hondo, our special teams were terrible last year. Did Mike Tressel moving to defensive coordinator hurt them or is Mark Snyder just that bad? Bradley G. Perry, MI

Mark Snyder clearly had a rough season last year (his first in East Lansing), but it is unfair to put all of the struggles of the special teams on him. Yes, he carries that title of special teams’ coordinator, but Mark Dantonio has made it clear since he arrived that every coach has a hand in special teams. Do I think Mike moving to DC hurt? Sure I do, but you can’t put all of the blame on Snyder.

Hondo, you have made it pretty clear that you believe Malik McDowell is gone after the year. Still think that and is there another person who you think could play themselves into a chance to leave for the NFL after the year? Charles Lake Charles, LA

No doubt in my mind barring an injury that Malik will go. I think another POTENTIAL name is Vayante Copeland. He is the real deal. I don’t anticipate it, but his name will be called one day. Great player, super young man. I love that young man. He is tough as nails and the young man off the field every parent wishes their child was.

There you go everyone. That is your weekly MSU football questions and answers article. Make sure you send your questions to and put in the subject line Football Q/A. Thank you.