MSU Spring Wrap-Up

Now that the spring sessions are over and SBW 2013 is done its time for a summary. I’ll start with general thoughts about the offense and defense and move on to position by positions details. Lastly, I’ll take a stab at our depth chart for the fall. It’s just my best guesses so don’t hold me to it.

Offense- I’m cautiously optimistic here. A 5th year senior quarterback and returning the entire starting offensive line is usually a good recipe. A lot of inexperience at WR but the talent ceiling is higher than last year. TE is a big strength and should be exploited to our advantage next year. RB is loaded with able bodies and we should see a more balanced workload that benefits us. The biggest key is QB play. MSU’s offense will go as far as Tyler Russell takes it.

Defense- New defensive coordinator Geoff Collins has instilled a new sense of excitement with players and fans. He promises to bring the mayhem and we saw LB and S’s practice blitzing more than in the past. New CB coach Deshae Townsend has been feverishly teaching a slew of inexperienced CB the ropes. New DL coach David Turner has a bunch of talent and is working hard to get it game ready. We saw much more team focused drills and less compartmentalization. Collins appears to want the whole defense to know everyone’s assignments. Hopefully this team teaching approach will translate to less miss assignments and better overall play.

Special Teams- I didn’t see a lot of consistency in the kicking game and that worried me. Devon Bell has all the leg he needs but misses perhaps a few too many. He’s only a rising sophomore and I still have plenty of faith in him gaining confidence and excelling.

QB- Tyler Russell was the only scholarship QB and protecting him was a must. He did work some under center and we saw a few new wrinkles. I didn’t expect Russell to be unseated but I did really want to watch the competition between TR and Dak Prescott. I really hoped to see Dak push him to the limit and we still may see that this fall.

RB- Ladarius Perkins established himself as the most complete back, no question. His starting job was never in jeopardy and he practiced very well before being held out for minor injuries. The competition between Derrick Milton and Josh Robinson was spirited. Both guys showed a lot of promise and provide MSU with plenty of options for the fall. Nick Griffin was held out because of an ACL injury and when fully recovered will add to this good problem.

WR- Robert Johnson and Jameon Lewis were consistently productive and I expect them to be our leaders next year. Jeremy Chappelle looked better by the day and Fred Brown was perhaps the biggest surprise of the spring. Michael Carr returned after a 1 year break and was brought along slowly but showed why he was such a highly regarded talent in high school. Joe Morrow has all the tools. Sometimes he makes unbelievable plays and other time he drops one that leaves you scratching your head. Brandon Holloway made plays all spring long and seems to have made it impossible for the coaches not to get him the ball, may it be at slot or RB.

TE- Malcolm Johnson showed all spring that he is a major weapon to use. Great hands, size, and use of his body make him an asset across he middle and in the redzone. Brandon Hill looks like another good receiving option. Rufus Warren is huge. He blocks better than the rest but runs surprisingly well and has decent hands. Gus Walley was a pleasant surprise as well after coming of a redshirt year were he rehabbed an ACL injury. Christian Holmes has really good hands and always seemed to make plays around the goal line. Artimas Samuel is huge and has great hands but expect a redshirt. Make no mistake, this is the deepest position on the team.

OL- We return our starting 5 and they looked more comfortable together. Gabe Jackson looks like the All-American candidate that he is. Dillion Day assumed a leadership role and really seems to have improved. Justin Malone has a really high ceiling and looked more comfortable than he did in the fall. Blaine Clausell has further developed at LT and Charles Siddoway looked better due in part to being healthy after being injured all season long. Damien Robinson showed he is our best tackle off the bench but not a starter. Justin Senior looks to be the tackle of the future. Dylan Holley cemented himself as the backup center. Ben Beckwith is the next option at guard after the starters. Archie Muniz looked decent at guard as did Devon Desper.

DE- Can’t say enough about how improved the pass rush should be with Denico Autry and Preston Smith. Both looked very good this spring. Right on their heels and receiving some 1rst team reps was Ryan Brown. At 6-6 260 he provides another legitimate SEC pass rushing option. Redshirt freshmen AJ Jefferson and Torrey Dale showed a lot of promise as well. Even without the arrival of Chris Jones, the may be the best shape MSU has been in at DE in a very long time.

DT- PJ Jones really turned it on and asserted himself as the leader. I’ve been really tough on Kaleb Eulls production at DE but it appears he is much better suited at DT. He looked much more effective in there and is reason for excitement. Curtis Virges had a solid spring as well. Nick James showed why he was a top recruit and really started playing to his talent. If that continues, he will get a ton of snaps. Quay Evans battled an ankle injury and was limited all spring but his physical conditioning made it easy to see the work he has put in. Redshirt Freshmen Nelson Adams and Jordan Washington showed that they will be solid contributors in the future. They just need a bit more development. 1 thing to keep in mind is that our 2 starters at DT were 5.1+ 40 guys last year. No matter the DT combination, we will see much more athleticism on the DL next year.

LB- Benardrick McKinney looks to have taken it up a notch coming off freshman All-American honors. Deonte Skinner has his spot nailed down as well. Matt Wells looked to gain the most from Collins change of scheme. He may have been the most underutilized guy on defense last year. He is a blitzing machine and I expect a big spike in his production. Chris Hughes probably won’t start but has made it impossible on the coaches to not play him. He plays angry and always meets the ball violently. The future is in great hands as well with Richie Brown and Beni Brown. They have speed, athleticism, and football IQ that can’t be taught and its indicative of their 4 star ratings they received in high school. Zach Jackson is somewhat forgotten but shouldn’t be because he had his moments as well. This position is in great shape for the future.

CB- There is a 4 way battle for 2 spots that is about as close as it can be. Justin Cox, Will Redmond, Cedric Jiles, and Jamerson Love are all battling intensely. Cox has the most high end talent possessing the looks of an NFL CB. I trust that whoever gets these spots have earned it and I really don’t mind who. It’s also easy to forget that Taveze Calhoun was out this spring due to injury and played well as a backup last year. In somewhat of a surprise, Kivon Coman got CB reps this spring. Ultimately I think he ends up at safety but he’s a good looking athlete in he secondary. A lot of experience was lost but a lot of talent returns.

S- Nickoe Whitley looks like he has returned to 2011 form. Very excited that MSU gets its ruthless enforcer back. Jay Hughes had a really good spring probably grabbing the other spot. He’s always around the ball making plays. Dee Arrington got some 1rst team reps and certainly looks the part. I expect him to play plenty of snaps. Deonte Evans was the next guy that really jumped out at you. Kendrick Market has noticeably developed as well and had a good spring. Quadry Antoine showed some promise as well but safety game reps are crowded this year. This is a very deep spot that at the least should supply plenty of guys to coverage units because they can all run and hit.

QB- Tyler Russell
2nd- Dak Prescott

RB- Ladarius Perkins
2nd-Derrick Milton/Josh Robinson

WR- Robert Johnson
2nd-Fred Brown

WR- Jeremy Chappelle
2nd- Michael Carr/Joe Morrow

Slot- Jameon Lewis
2nd- Brandon Holloway

TE- Malcolm Johnson
2nd- Brandon Hill

LT- Blaine Clausell
2nd- Damien Robinson

G- Gabe Jackson
2nd- Ben Beckwith

C- Dillion Day
2nd- Dylan Holley

G- Justin Malone
2nd- Ben Beckwith

RT- Charles Siddoway
2nd- Damien Robinson

DE- Denico Autry
2nd- Ryan Brown

DT- PJ Jones
2nd- Curtis Virges

DT- Kaleb Eulls
2nd- Nick James/Quay Evans

DE- Preston Smith
2nd- Ryan Brown

LB- Deonte Skinner
2nd- Chris Hughes

LB- Benardrick McKinney
2nd- Ferlando Bohanna

LB- Matt Wells
2nd- Beni Brown

CB- Justin Cox
2nd- Jamerson Love

CB- Will Redmond
2nd- Cedric Jiles

FS- Nickoe Whitley
2nd- Deonte Evans

SS- Jay Hughes
2nd- Dee Arrington

Follow me on twitter @BeastManSteve

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