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Thursday, December 5, 2013

MSU FOOTBALL FRONT BURNER: B1G Championship Game Edition Part 2. Time to Feast at the Table.

Our weekly feature on MSU Football brings diverse responses to
a variety of questions related to the Spartans program. 


Part 2 Panelist Responses:

4. What under reported developments, plays or story-lines have you observed since our last Front-Burner?

All of the chUMps have convinced each other that this is a one-time-season for Michigan State as "all of the defensive stars will be graduating". Um, not really. We have a five-star recruit playing third-string on the D-Line. We have two four-star recruits red-shirting at linebacker, with another four-star linebacker verbally committed and a Bullough moving back to that position group. Two of our four starting defensive backs will return, plus all of the subs in the backfield.

The Spartan Football Program is in good shape, with strong depth all over the field. The main loss to worry about for next year may be Narduzzi.

[From Return2Glory: Also returning is nearly all skill positions on offense. Nearly all of the production statistics on offense. If Bennie Fowler stays, I think MSU will return 100% of passing, receiving, rushing yards and offensive scoring less Andrew Maxwell's early playing time. I'm sure our panelists will correct me if I'm wrong.]

MSUSpartan76 (Follow him on M-Live)
Going into the Minnesota game there was a whole bunch of stupid talk about the Spartan Defense not being legitimate. During the game there was nothing but how great MSU's defense is and how excellent they play. Now, we are back to the Spartan defense not being up to facing Miller and Hyde. Give me a break.

ATownAndDown (Follow him on M-Live)
I think a lot of people are getting caught up with the matchups and the noise that is going on about this game Saturday and they are losing sight of the bigger picture. MSU wants to have a perennial seat at the table. MSU fans gripe about how other teams and conferences get more respect and national love than the Spartans who are "just as good if not better" than those guys. Well boys and girls, here we are. We have beaten a path to the table. You want a seat... win.

These next two games (and you might even include the Oregon game next year in here too) are crucial to changing the national perception of MSU football. Look at Stanford. Jim Harbaugh took over that program the same year Coach D came to MSU. Going into 2010, Stanford was not getting much national love just like MSU. By the end of the year they were a top-5 team because they won (12-1 with not an overwhelmingly tough schedule but they won on the big stage in the Orange Bowl). The next season they got some love nationally and proved they deserved it (started #7 and finished #7). The following year they lost Andrew Luck and got a little less love (still top 20) but they went out and proved they were no worse off without Luck. Then this year with two bad losses, they are still getting respect and are in the top-10. Stanford changed the perception that they were a cute story. We have seen years where teams put together cute seasons (Iowa, GT, Cincinnati, UConn, etc.) but when they get their seat at the table they can't back up why they deserve to keep it. That is where MSU is standing right now. If MSU wins 2 of those 3 games (B1G Champ, bowl, and Oregon 2014), people will start to be convinced. Win all and people will believe.

5. Despite the great season in progress, Mark Dantonio has not been able to register measurable gains in recruiting, at least according to the five-star-system used to rate high school players. On the other hand, Langford and Lippett came in as three-star "athletes", and Dennard and Waynes arrived as two-star recruits. Do the benefits of a season most likely show up with high school juniors more than the current class of seniors? Do you care at all about the recruiting rankings for Michigan State? 

MSUSpartan76 (Follow him on M-Live)
Do we really care about what those recruiting sites say? They are set up to generate revenue, not give accurate assessments. Augment that with the rediculous scoring systems employed by Scout (and others) and the only conclusion is that they are in business to generate stuff people will pay to read. Are you aware that in the Scout rating system, a Junior College transfer is worth 1 point versus a 5-star worth 200?

MSU is getting the players that Dantonio and his staff believe can contribute to the success of the program. Unfortunately, MSU had a major transition year (QB and WRs) and an injury prone offensive line or we would not be having this conversation.

[See '76's Post, The Myth of the Widening Recruiting Gap]

ATownAndDown (Follow him on M-Live)
Recruiting at MSU is a funny thing. First real scouts will tell you that MSU targets guys that are "fits" for their system. They don't put the time and effort in pursuing someone that they don't see having a role in our system. And they are not going to sell any one a bill of goods they do not intend to deliver. They are going to tell you where they see you fitting and they are going to be real with recruits on what is going to be expected of them before they sniff playing time. Some recruits don't like where MSU pegs them. Some don't like the idea of not just being handed a spot. And some just are not interested. But those that buy in and those that do come, get it. They improve and they fit in a successful system and it works. I would be shocked to see MSU ever pull a top-5 class (not that I wouldn't like to see it) but it's not because players will never go to MSU. It's because Coach D and company are going to find guys that are "fits" that want to fit. That pool increases as you win and recruiting has been slowly trending up IMO and will continue on that path.

It would be nice to get 5-10 "four-star" recruits in each class. That may sound like a lot, but Dantonio offers more than that many each year, so it would be helpful if a few more of them signed up for the program. Our coaching staff has proven that they can develop players in their system, so it stands to reason that if incoming players had a little bit more athleticism coming in, they could become even better as part of the program.

All that said, the keys to watch in recruiting is how MSU does when offering players that other top programs have also offered. In other words, check the offer list when a player commits, to see what other choices that player had. If Dantonio gets commitments from players who had multiple high-level offers, that's a good sign. If not, they stick with turning lumps of coal into diamonds.

Part 1 Questions (Previous Issue):
1. It was the Michigan football players who started the on-field brawl in their game against Ohio STATE, yet only a single UM player was penalized in any way. This, despite multiple Wolverines who ran onto the field, several of whom made physical contact with Buckeyes. How does Michigan come out of this ugly incident relatively clean, while Ohio STATE is made to look like the bad guys?

2. MSU Punter, Mike Sadler was clearly roughed near the end of the Minnesota game, yet no penalty was called. This feels similar to the bogus pass-interference calls made against the Spartans at Notre Dame, and the multiple non-calls that should have been made against Taylor Lewan in the Michigan game. Do you believe that Michigan State plays on a level field when it comes to Big Tens referees and/or administrators? 

3. The Buckeye Defense looks pretty vulnerable this season, but what can MSU do about the Ohio STATE Offense? Miller and Hyde look pretty damn good. Give your best guess at the point total to be scored by the Buckeyes.

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