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Michigan State football: Offensive line could see resurgence in 2023

It’s about time we have a good offensive line.



Michigan State football
© Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Michigan State football may have its best offensive line in years thanks to veterans, budding stars, and coaching.

Michigan State football is facing a lot of question marks heading into the 2023 season, 0ne of them being the offensive line.

A lot of position groups have a good foundation, whether that be the coaches, veteran players, or depth offered up by the young guys. A few groups have all three of these. One of those rooms is the offensive line.

Spoiler alert: I’m excited about this position. But why, after everything we saw in 2022?

Simply put, because a lot can happen in a year; and a lot has happened in a year. The trenches are a long-time source of pride for the Spartan football program. We’ve been fortunate to have witnessed some great players come through the program. Jack Conklin, Brian Allen, and Jack Allen come to mind, and those are just the key guys from the Mark Dantonio years.

Problem is, it’s been too long since they have had that pedigree on the line. Don’t worry, though, I’m here to tell you why the program is closer to returning the position group back to the dominant room it once was.

First of all, in order to have a successful position group, you need a coaching staff that emphasizes everything about it. Mel Tucker preaches the importance of the trenches, and with Chris Kapilovic leading the “juice squad”, you can tell he’s the right guy for the job. Not enough can be said for the praise Kap gets.

But praise is one thing, product is another.

When it comes to recruiting the line, the term relentless from the coaching staff is no joke. Sure they have had some misses, but I don’t know a program in the country that doesn’t anymore. From landing Stanton Ramil and Cole Dellinger in the 2023 class, Ashton Lepo (a guy I think will be sneaky good) and Gavin Broscious in 2022, to Geno VanDeMark in 2021 these are all highly-touted recruits. This doesn’t even include the transfer portal where Kapilovic landed Keyshawn Blackstock, Brian Greene, and Jarett Horst. Coach Kap is the biggest reason for my very optimistic outlook on the offensive line.

When you think of any good offensive line, experience is a key ingredient. There has to be some veteran presence in the room.

JD Duplain and Nick Samac will be the most experienced guys on the line, both returning for their bonus year with a lot of starts under their belt. Senior Spencer Brown is absolutely in line for a breakout season after starting all 12 games at right tackle in 2022. I expect JUCO transfer Keyshawn Blackstock to step in right away, and although he has more experience on the inside, he’s a candidate to start at tackle.

With this core, you’re already at a really solid foundation on paper.

Brandon Baldwin makes for some debate, though. After starting in five games, and playing in nine, he will make his case to be named a Week 1 starter on the outside. Then I could see a world where the staff keeps Blackstock inside, pushing VanDeMark out of the starting group. Although 2022 was a wash, it allowed a lot of these guys to get snaps. In a room that desperately needs guys to emerge as stars, that’s a good thing. 

Lastly, MSU’s offensive line is built for the future. Comments have been made about the size and readiness level of the newcomers. I’ve mentioned a few names already, including Lepo and Broscious, and in the 2023 class, you have two future starters with Ramil and Dellinger. Kristian Phillips, Ethan Boyd, and Kevin Wigenton are more names who add lots of good depth and even were able to log a few snaps in 2022.

Compared to where they were a year ago, there is more depth, and those guys are further along in their transition to being Big Ten-level linemen.

The eye test is a big measuring stick for an offensive lineman. Size, speed, footwork, and technique are all fairly easy to diagnose, and the young depth pieces pass it better than years before. The reality is that whether they will make an impact next season, or the season after, the trenches are in good hands going forward. 

We could have a long conversation about the offensive line. I could write about the veterans, the newcomers, or the coaching staff, and break down each player’s strengths. Heck, I could probably give you just as many reasons we should be worried about the position group. The reality is, the offensive line wasn’t very good in 2022. When you look at the run game, you aren’t guaranteed a Kenneth Walker III every season, and looking forward, Jalen Berger, Nathan Carter, and maybe some Jaren Mangham are more than capable of creating a good running back room, but the run game and offensive line are going to need to go hand-in-hand. One guy can’t carry both rooms anymore.

Now, with all of this being said, don’t be surprised when the offensive line looks better next season. It’s in a much better place thanks to the staff, veteran presence, and young depth. 

My prediction?

Tackles: Spencer Brown, Keyshawn Blackstock
Guards: J.D. Duplain, Geno VanDeMark
Center: Nick Samac

Most likely to contribute to the depth: Brandon Baldwin, Kevin Wigenton, Ethan Boyd, Ashton Lepo, Dallas Fincher, Kristian Phillips.


Michigan State football: Washington game time, channel announced

Fans won’t be too thrilled about the channel.



Michigan State football
© Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington vs. Michigan State football rematch is on Sept. 16, and the Spartans have revenge on their minds.

The game time for the Washington vs. Michigan State football game was just announced and is one I think most Michigan State fans will be happy with. The game will kick off at 5 p.m. ET on Sept. 16.

This is a great start time for Michigan State fans. That will give fans plenty of time to travel to East Lansing, enjoy a tailgate and get into the stadium. On top of that, the game will get down around 8 p.m. ET which is good for the crowd that does not like to be out late.

However, I think a lot of fans were hoping for a noon start time in this game. A noon start would have been a 9 a.m. local time for Washington, likely giving the Spartans a slight advantage. It’s no surprise seeing this big of a game scheduled in the evening to avoid that.

On top of the game time announcement, where the game will be aired on TV was also announced. This is where the good news ends. The Spartans game against Washington will only be available for streaming on Peacock. That means Spartan fans at home will have to pay to watch this game. However, a simple Google search showed me that Peacock currently only costs $20 for the entire year. A lot of Big Ten football and basketball games will only be available on Peacock this season, so that may not be a bad investment to make right now if you can.

What would a win mean for Michigan State football?

Michigan State will have revenge on its mind in this game. Washington beat the Spartans last season in Seattle 39-28. The game however did not feel that close. Michigan State made a late comeback to make the final score look respectable, but a lot of fans will tell you we never really stood a chance.

Washington will likely be a top 10 heading into this matchup, so Michigan State has a great opportunity in front of it. A win would would help spring the Spartans into the conference season with a lot of positive momentum.

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Jordan Hall hosts second annual free youth football camp (Video)

Jordan Hall is a legend already.



Jordan Hall
© Nick King/Lansing State Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Michigan State freshman linebacker Jordan Hall continues to show just why he’s one of the best out there.

Jordan Hall is already showing signs of being the next great Spartan on and off the field.

The Michigan State freshman linebacker was born and raised in Fredericksburg, Va. However, he most recently moved to Bradenton, Fla., to play football at IMG Academy.

This past weekend, Hall returned home to Fredericksburg to host his second annual free Jordan Hall Youth Football Camp.

Hall has already been making a name for himself on the field for the Spartans this spring. His play and effort has been praised by fellow players and coaches alike. IMG Academy has a long history of producing high-quality athletes. This makes Hall’s tenure in the program even more noteworthy. He became the first three-time captain in IMG Academy history.

When coaches are recruiting players, they are hoping to find the perfect mix of talent and character. You don’t become a three-time captain of a storied school like IMG Academy without having both.

In a recent interview with Spartan Shadows, Cryeeta Hall said of her son, “One of his favorite things he loves to do is teach the game of football to kids. He loves to coach.”

Michigan State fans are excited to see what Jordan Hall can contribute on the field, but his character off the field so far is creating just as much excitement. When you see a young man with the heart and determination to give back to his hometown, it lets fans know this is the sort of player you can to rally around and support. Mel Tucker has shown intentionality in his recruiting. He has a specific type of player that he’s looking for. Jordan Hall epitomizes a Tucker type of player.

Hall has the potential to earn immediate playing time this year as a true freshman. I’m not a betting man but if I were, I’d wager that we’ll see him as a team captain for the green and white sooner than later.

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Mel Tucker is best coach in the Big Ten when it comes to one stat

This may surprise you.



Mel Tucker

Mel Tucker is the best coach in the conference when it comes to this one surprising stat.

Michigan State football coach Mel Tucker is one of the best coaches in the Big Ten when it comes to close games.

This may surprise some considering two of Tucker’s three years at Michigan State have resulted in losing seasons. But the data shows that Tucker knows how to come out on top when the game is close.

He has been at Michigan State since 2020. During that three year timeframe he boasts a 10-1 record in games decided by 10 points or less which is the best record in the conference during that span.

Here is a list of all 11 of those games:


  • at Michigan (W 27-24)
  • vs. Northwestern (W 29-20)


  • vs. Nebraska (W 23-20)
  • at Indiana (W 20-15)
  • vs. Michigan (W 37-33)
  • vs. Penn State (W 30-27)
  • vs. Pittsburgh (W 31-21)


  • vs. Wisconsin (W 34-28)
  • at Illinois (W 23-15)
  • vs. Rutgers (W 27-21)
  • vs. Indiana (L 39-31)

How impressive is this really?

A 10-1 record when games are within 10 points is extremely impressive. The only loss on this list is Indiana from last season, a game Michigan State likely should have one. The Spartans ended up losing in overtime to the Hoosiers, but were a chip shot field goal away from winning in regulation. That is a field goal college kickers make almost every time, so Tucker’s one loss on this list could easily have been another win.

Regardless, 10-1 is the best winning percentage in games decided by 10 points or less in the Big Ten during that three-year span.

This is how the rest of the Big Ten teams fared during this same timeframe:

  1. Michigan State: 10-1 (.909)
  2. Maryland: 8-3 (.727)
  3. Iowa: 11-5 (.688)
  4. Indiana: 7-4 (.636)
  5. Purdue: 12-7 (.632)
  6. Ohio State: 3-2 (.600)
  7. Michigan: 6-4 (.600)
  8. Minnesota: 9-7 (.563)
  9. Rutgers: 7-6 (.538)
  10. Wisconsin: 6-7 (.462)
  11. Penn State: 5-7 (.417)
  12. Northwestern: 5-9 (.357)
  13. Illinois: 6-11 (.353)
  14. Nebraska: 5-16 (.238)

What does this tell us about Mel Tucker?

One thing this tells us is the Tuck is a great in game coach in tight situations. No coach goes 10-1 in close games by accident. Sometimes there is a lot of luck involved with winning close games, but that’s not necessarily the case when you win them this efficiently. Anyone can close a game out when you are up by 20, but not everyone can win a close game in the closing seconds.

This statistic is not all good though. Michigan State has won 18 games during the past three seasons. This means that over half of the games Mel Tucker has won at Michigan State have been within 10 points. For a program with extremely high goals, that fact is a little scary.

As I mentioned before, sometimes luck has to be on your side to win these close games. So relying on winning a lot of close games to have a great season is not a recipe for success.

One things for sure though, as long as Mel Tucker is the coach at Michigan State, we stand a very good chance at winning any close game.

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