News, Notes, and Thoughts from Spartan Football First Week of Spring Edition

Spring is about one major thing in college football: repetitions, repetitions and more repetitions.  Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.
Spring is about one major thing in college football: repetitions, repetitions and more repetitions. Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard.

Harlon ‘DA BANG STICK’ Barnett knows a thing or two about being a defensive back and about special athletes. He is the latest coach or player to rave about R-freshman Tony Lippett. When I asked him about getting the fine WR/CB for the last three weeks of spring he told me, “He (Lippett) is GOING to be a two way player here.” We have heard that from Mark Dantonio and Pat Narduzzi also, but the accolades for the young man continue to pile up.

Coach Barnett made an interesting point about his DBs. He was commenting how Trenton Robinson is the only senior he has, scholarship or walk on. That is an amazing stat about the youth Dantonio has accumulated.

This was not a disparaging comment, so hear it in context. When this staff arrived there were plenty of players, but they were lacking the depth it takes to win a Big Ten title and compete nationally. The Spartans sure are young, but now they have a three deep of athletes and finally have the depth and talent that can sustain them through injuries that are sure to come in the Big Ten. How big is the talent gap between this spring and the first for Coach Barnett? He said, “Big difference.”

New punter Mike Sadler is a perfectionist. He is very tough on himself and he said after practice about where he is in his punting preparation, “I like where I am at.” That may not sound like much, but with the loss of Aaron Bates that is huge. Sadler speaks bluntly about his spring performance; if he says he feels good, you can count on him being ready.

I wrote considerably last year about how R-freshman Skyler Schofner was looking. Dantonio has said many times that it is always his preference to red shirt lineman. This massive young man is already penciled in as the first string RT. As I have stated earlier I do not expect him to give that spot up until he moves to LT for the 2013 season. He has every tool necessary to not only be good, to be great.

Another impressive characteristic of Schofner is that he is humble. When I asked him about being the #1 RT he said of the opportunity, “As a red shirt freshman it is an unbelievable opportunity.”

I have written many times about the RT and LT adjustment in college. With the speed of the modern day end and OLB they have to be able in pass coverage to get back (back peddle) quickly to stop the five technique rusher. Schofner admitted that he is working on it, but said, “I am ready for it.”

He also talked about coming from Ohio and being at Michigan State. “I am from Ohio and I never thought I would be in Michigan and love it.”

On having an OC (Dan Roushar) who was an OL coach for him last season he was pretty excited and said, “I love it. An offensive line coach at offensive coordinator.”

Dan France is making the transition this spring from DL to OL. Dantonio was emphatic that any players making moves this spring need to be in the hunt (starters jobs) or they will probably move back. I asked France if he was hoping for the younger players to step up so he could go back to where he has played for so long on the DL. He was refreshingly honest when he said, “Now that I am on offense I kind of like it.”

He is having to learn to back peddle, staying low, kick slides, splits and angles, but said, “I am starting to have the technique down.”

He also volunteered that with all of his many offers coming out of high school, 75% wanted him on the OL.

Ethan Ruhland is having a great spring at center. I have already written about him being 'Mr. Reliable' on the OL having to play all of the positions. Because of some injuries he is working some OG, but make no mistake he is a center. He is excited about his move to the leadership position of the offensive line. I am not implying that he is Keshawn Martin, but he is more athletic than the last two centers MSU has had (not in any way disparaging) and that will make a big difference should he win the job.

Talk about guys getting reps. Ruhland and Treadwell are both fighting for the starting center job and they both are trying to get as many extra reps as possible from QB Kirk Cousins. I feel bad for Kirk, but I am sure he doesn’t care. Like his two centers, he is a competitor and I can’t wait to ask him how much fun he is having.

Speaking of Cousins in his first year he had to look over his shoulder with each throw wondering if Nichol was coming in. Last year, I think he felt he had a lot to prove and at times seemed to be pushing too hard. I have noticed since the season ended that he sure seems more comfortable than I have ever seen him. He appears more relaxed and in my dealings with him seems to have grown comfortable in his own skin. I hope he has more fun. He is a great kid and I think he carries a lot of weight on his shoulders that he doesn’t need to0. I, for one, am hoping that he has the most fun in 2011 of his career.

Am I the only one walling in disbelief that Kirk is already a fifth year senior? If time flies as you get older, then I am officially ancient.

Lastly, Micajah Reynolds from Lansing Sexton has been on offense, moved to defense, back to offense and now is on the DL. He has a wealth of talent and now it is about finding his niche. This sophomore is a big and strong young man and if he can get in the rotation he will make a difference. He is still only a sophomore and this is a young team.