The War Room:  Go Inside #5 Michigan State Football

Mark Dantonio watching his Spartans at the Holiday Bowl.  (PHOTO:  Duffy Carpenter @DuffyCarpenter1 )
Mark Dantonio watching his Spartans at the Holiday Bowl. (PHOTO: Duffy Carpenter @DuffyCarpenter1 )

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.

  • Speed speed speed this is going to be the fastest Michigan State team of the Mark Dantonio era.
  • That speed, combined with so many good players is a great thing for the Spartans as they experiment all over the field trying to get the best players on the field.
  • Chuck Bullough and Ron Burton give Mark Dantonio and the Spartan Nation the best DL coaching in the Big Ten.
  • The B & B (Bullough & Burton) are deadly recruiting guys that love the game. Recruits figure out real quick that either they love the game and the passion of these two, or they don’t want anything to do with it.
  • MSU has lost multiple players as Spartan Nation reported after the season that we expected. There could be as many as four more leave after the spring. Is that bad news? Not if the gentleman leaving are not contributors. That opens up more scholarships.
  • Those extra scholarships can be a blessing with 2019 potentially being the best class of the Dantonio era.
  • Former MSU backup QB Peter Badovinac is joining Ohio State as a GA. Good for him.
  • Former Michigan State OL coach Jeff Stoutland has been promoted with the Philadelphia Eagles. Stoutland is one of the most respected assistant coaches to ever coach at Michigan State. He was one of the best OL coaches I have ever seen and was undervalued at MSU.
  • “Brian Lewerke is a proven commodity,” is how Mark Dantonio talked about the Spartans signal called. Lewerke took the reins and had a great off season. Last spring and even up to the Northwestern game MSU was careful. In what is a good sign, Dantonio and OC Dave Warner (who had a rock star 2017) have come out this spring guns blazing. If you liked the POST Northwestern MSU offense last year, you are going to love it in 2018.
  • Lewerke last year struggled with identifying and fixing mistakes. It wasn’t arrogance, it was a learning curve. To his credit he has identified what the coaches and frankly the scouts were seeing and has come out talking about fixing them. “I think timing and my feet is one of the big things I’ve been working on. I noticed I kind of threw off-balance a lot, so I’m working on that and making sure I can be more accurate and all that comes with your feet, too, so I’m just kind of working on that.”
  • Brian Allen measured 6-1 and 300 pounds, was one of the top performers in the bench press at the NFL combine. He put up 225 pounds 27 times, which ranked tied for eighth among the offensive linemen at the combine.
  • Allen ran a 40-yard dash time of 5.34 seconds, recorded a 26.5-inch vertical jump, and had a leap of 99.0 inches (8’3”) in the broad jump.
  • I have praised the three off season hires for Mark Dantonio, but he had fun chiding the media when he said of the three “At least they know the fight song, that’s what I can guarantee.”
  • Future captain Khari Willis said of the new hires that, “All of them have been here before, so they kind of know what to do. They know coach D, they know their stuff. So I feel that it has been smooth.”
  • Dantonio said of the status of spring ball that, “We have a lot of guys back who have played a lot of football for us, and it showed. There’s only so much you can do in shorts, but we put them in several active situations. Guys are getting repetitions. All of the quarterbacks threw the ball well, we caught the ball well, and you see guys making plays.”
  • Lewerke said of some emerging players that, “I’ve seen guys like Josiah Scott. We have these catapult things we wear that kind of measures how many bursts and all that we get. Josiah’s been up there, Byron Bullough, Matt Sokol, all those guys. I know they’re not new but they’ve been putting a lot out there for conditioning so far.”
  • Spartan Nation predicted in February and asked all of you to write it down that Brian Lewerke, Joe Bachie and Khari Willis will be captains in 2018. Here is some more ancillary proof.
  • Brian Lewerke said “I think Khari Willisis one that I’ve noticed that’s stepped up a lot. I know he was a leader for us last year, but I can definitely tell he’s recognized his role and he’s trying to step up. I think he’s done a great job of it so far. So you know, guys like him, myself, Joe Bachie, all those guys are trying to step up and lead this team.”
  • Willis said of the team’s emphasis that, “First, we want to get our young guys acclimated first. We want to stay positive with our team, make sure everybody’s on board. Finish out strong academically and as far as football goes, we always want to take strides toward winning the (Big Ten) East (Division) and that’s always been a mantra here.”
  • Willis said of his emerging leadership that, “I feel that it’s a blessing and it’s an honor just to be able to lead my teammates, just to be able to have them have confidence in me. To be able to go out and get things done for them, to be able to speak for them, to be able to fight for them and get out in front of them. So I think it’s an honor.”
  • Raequan Williams was bold in talking about this teams ceiling. “We've got all our guys back. We've got, I mean what I heard, like 90-something percent of our production back, so it’s nice to have that coming back. Everybody’s excited about coming back and wants to win something big.”
  • Bachie is on the fast track to the NFL and says looking back at 2017 he was NOT happy. “I’d say no, you know. I’ve watched the film and I know I can get a lot better so that’s what I’m trying to do this spring and work with it. But the team, not many people saw us do what we did last year.”
  • Bachie said of being the first sophomore to get 100 tackles in a season since 2008 and if he’s talked to Greg Jones who had done it previously, “Yeah, I’ve talked to him a couple times. He’s a great person and obviously he’s got a bunch of great things going on here that he did in the past. I know he’s a great guy to talk to and he’s definitely been a mentor.”
  • Matt Sokol is fired up about the ceiling of this team, “I think with all the people we have coming back, a little bit bigger of a senior class. A lot of guys that have played young are really excited to just get better and capitalize on the things they did well at this season and improve – everyone has something they can get better at. As a team we’re just really excited to see where we can go and have all the experience come back, just seeing how far it can take us.”
  • The Spartans will welcome 10 starters back on offense. Let that soak in.
  • On defense, the Spartans return 23 letter winners and nine starters from a unit that finished ranked in the FBS Top 10 in rushing defense (No. 2 at 95.3 ypg) and total defense (No. 7 at 297.6 ypg). Merry Christmas Spartan Nation.
  • Youngstown State will receive a $725,000 guarantee for a newly scheduled game on 9/11/21. An absolute joke that the Spartans are playing them. But as long as fans pay for crap games they will get crap games. In defense of Greg Ianni and MSU, if they can't find a D1 program you have to schedule what you can get. BUT, is it that you can't find an opponent or one that is on the easy end or as cheap as YSU and their guarantee.

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