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Michigan State football stock watch: 4 risers, 2 fallers after Richmond win

Whose stock is on the rise?



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

The Richmond game seems like a distant memory, but which Michigan State football players’ stock rose in the win?

As I’ve noted before, it can be hard to know how much to take away from a Michigan State football game against such a weak opponent. With that said, though, I have a few observations.

Here are a few who impressed me — and a couple who didn’t — in the Spartans’ latest contest.

Stock up: DE Zion Young

Zion Young showed flashes of his upside in 2022, and it’s looking like he’s realizing said potential more and more every day. The 6-foot-6 true sophomore was a constant threat on MSU’s defensive line on Saturday, finishing the contest with 1.5 sacks and two total tackles for loss. He’s up to 2.5 sacks through two games and is looking primed to get plenty more. It’s been awesome to see Young break out, and if he can keep this sort of production up, he’s going to be a very dangerous player.

Stock down: OC Jay Johnson

In any game you put up 45 points, things can’t have been all that bad. That said, though, Jay Johnson’s most recent bout of play-calling was somewhat suspect. It was a lot of the same thing we saw against Central Michigan, with the Spartans struggling at times to move the ball early. The team got it figured out, sure, but it’s frustrating to watch so many offensive plays go nowhere. In a nutshell, Johnson has not always been putting his players in optimal positions to succeed. While the team can overcome that against such weak competition, it won’t fly against Washington and other teams on the upcoming schedule. Some issues with play-calling definitely have to be cleaned up.

Stock up: K Jonathan Kim

The hot mess that was Michigan State’s kicker position last year seems to be no more. One game after hitting a 47-yard field goal, kicker Jonathan Kim made a 52-yarder as well. His production so far is highly encouraging — definitely a sight for sore eyes. An inconsistent kicking game cost the Spartans big-time last year, and Kim looks like the fix to that problem. As I’ve said before, field goal kicking is one thing unaffected by the level of competition. As always, time will tell, but he looks like the real deal.

Stock up: DC Scottie Hazelton

If you asked me to vouch for one of the Spartans’ coordinators post-2021, I would have chosen Jay Johnson. Not even close. But given the questions that have arisen given his play-calling, combined with a surprising defensive resurgence, things have decidedly swung in the other direction. Scottie Hazelton’s defense has been top-notch in the first couple of games of the season, and not just in the box score. You can see the difference on your TV — guys are flying around the screen, everyone’s making plays, and the defense just looks way more coordinated as a unit.

Obviously, tests against more formidable opponents will give us the full picture, but the progress we’ve seen so far has been super encouraging. A massive upswing in results for a coordinator who was left for dead by much of the fanbase.

Stock down: Backup running backs

Nathan Carter and Jalen Berger are pretty firmly set as RB1 and RB2, respectively. But the team still needs capable guys behind the dynamic duo, given how frequent injuries in general are. To kind of scope out some candidates, Michigan State football handed out some snaps to the reserve backs in garbage time on Saturday. Unfortunately, it was a less-than-impressive showing. Davion Primm, Joseph Martinez, and Jordon Simmons all got some run, and here’s how it went:

Primm: 4 carries, 17 yards, and a fumble
Martinez: 5 carries for 6 yards
Simmons: 1 carry for 1 yard and a fumble.

Not great. It seems all but inevitable that at least one of the Spartans’ top backs will miss some time this year, that’s just the way it is. Berger’s health is already in question as it is. The team has to have guys who can step up, get yards, and most importantly, hold on to the ball. Suffice it to say, that none of these guys really put my fears to rest.

Stock up: Noah Kim and Nathan Carter

I group these two together because they’re in similar situations. Both had impressive games last week against Central Michigan, and both were out to prove it wasn’t a fluke. And prove it they did; at least as much as two Big Ten players can prove themselves against a school like Richmond.

Noah Kim recorded 292 yards to go with three touchdowns en route to being named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week.

Carter, meanwhile, racked up 111 yards on nineteen carries, plus three scores of his own.

Stats aside, though, the pairing was just a lot of fun to watch out there. As I’ve said before, time (and tougher competition) will give us a clearer picture of the duo’s full potential, but for the moment, things are clearly looking up.

Hey there. I'm Just Another Sports Fan, AKA JASF. I could talk for hours about all variety of athletics, but for now, I'm writing about Michigan State. Always open to feedback, thoughts, or comments as well - hit me up on Twitter or elsewhere!