Here is some of the latest on the Spartans and their preparations heading into the Outback Bowl:
1. Andrew Maxwell will play and get good reps.
Important: Yes. Exciting: Yes. Personally, I am really ready to see Maxwell more. I love Kirk Cousins and the player and leader he is and has been, but Maxwell’s ceiling is higher. That is not a knock on Cousins, but a statement of the talent behind him. Seeing Maxwell get a chance to run the offense — with the starters and in a game situation — will be good for Spartans fans to get a gauge on the player who will take over next season. Also, if anyone remembers this, in the spring game there were times where Keshawn Martin lined up at quarterback and Maxwell at receiver — one play was a pass downfield to Maxwell, the other was a pitch to Maxwell who then throw downfield. Could we see these type of things? Wouldn’t put it past the stoic Mark Dantonio — especially because those plays are not on game film for Georgia to scout.
2. Isaiah Lewis is incredibly mature — beyond his years, and probably mine.
I don’t want to say too much on this right now because I plan on posting something soon about him and why I am so impressed with his reaction to the post-Wisconsin drama.
3. Micajah Reynolds is impressing greatly at defensive tackle.
Good news because if Jerel Worthy does leave, the Spartan defense will need a force in the middle next year. Reynolds supposedly is practicing so well that Pat Narduzzi has all but declared Reynolds isn’t moving back to offense.
4. Tony Lippett is practicing at wide receiver again.
Not a real surprise. MSU is deep in the secondary with a lot of young players. Lippett is a tall target with a lot of athletic ability and speed who is best served making plays offensively. With the graduation of Martin, B.J. Cunningham and Keith Nichol, Lippett factors into MSU’s plans heavily moving forward.
5. The size of the Georgia offensive line and Aaron Murray’s ability to get the ball out quickly concerns Narduzzi.
As it should, they are huge and he is talented. But, I expect MSU to get pressure with Denicos Allen off the edge — who the big blockers cannot keep up with in quickness. Murray getting the ball out quickly, well, that means a little less blitzing might be the recipe in this game…but I cannot see Narduzzi altering that style too much. This MSU defense vs. Georgia offense is something I will go in depth with in the next week or so.
6. Top young players impressing coaches.
This new always is a highlight of bowl practice. Let me remind you, Cunningham was the talk of the 2007 bowl practices.
Quote from Narduzzi from this press release: “And then some of the young guys, again, there’s been a bunch of them. We haven’t had as many of those young day practices as we have in the past because of that championship week. But Lawrence Thomas stands out to me. He’s a big, physical guy that had a chance for at least two days this week to step up and play. He’s physical, gets the defense lined up, tough. He’s done a nice job.
Ed Davis and Darien Harris are going to be three excellent linebackers for us, all three of those guys with LT. That is a good linebacking corps. I think I may have told you back in the fall, I don’t think we missed on one kid on defense last year, so every freshman that came in I could say something about, whether it’s Trae Waynes or R.J. Williamson, is going to be a great safety for us, and both those guys will play a lot for us next year, I can tell you right now.
And then on the defensive line, Damox Knox, every one of them, James Kittredge, Brandon Clemons, Shilique Calhoun, he gets in the other day against the one offense, and he’s in two plays, he gets a sack. He’s going to be a great player for us. So we’ve got a lot of guys here that have showed up, and they show up every day on the scout team. Our offense tells us about it. So we don’t need a bowl practice to find out if those guys are players are not. They do it every day I hope.”
Quote from Dan Roushar from the same release: “Andrew Maxwell and Connor Cook have done some really nice things, you see some really positive things, and I guess they’re younger because they haven’t gotten a lot of work. … A lot of things we would have loved to have had early in the year. Keith Mumphery has had a couple of very good days. He’s shown a lot of improvement and showing confidence, so that’s positive. Nick Hill has run the ball in there, and that’s been good.
Our offensive line, although we don’t have a lot of healthy bodies, young guys that are working in there, I think Donavon Clark is showing some real positive things. So we’ll continue to kind of watch these guys grow.”
All in all, this is enough to get anyone excited about the future of MSU football — also a good reminder why this recruiting class for 2012 is low in number and very specific to positions requiring a little more depth or attention.