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Michigan State football: What we’re watching for in the 2023 spring game

What will we be watching for?



Michigan State football
© Matthew Dae Smith/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Michigan State football spring “game” is officially upon us and this is what we’ll be watching for on Saturday.

The Michigan State football spring “game” is finally upon us, and while it won’t be an actual scrimmage due to injury issues/concerns, there is still a lot to look forward to. The Spartan Shadows staff is here to share some things they are excited to watch at Spartan Stadium.

Brendon Pricco: Nathan. Carter. The former UConn running back is an incoming transfer. He spent his freshman year in Storrs, Conn., and in just four games racked up 405 yards with a 6.2 yards per carry average. I believe he could be a star in this offense.

Chris Norman: So there are a lot of intriguing storylines coming into this weekend. 

On the field, for me, the position group I’m most curious about is the offensive line. For this team to get back on track, it will need to start up front. The offense works best when the running game gets going and Payton Thorne has time. Hopefully, a more healthy offensive line this spring allows more ground to be gained. 

Off the field, it’s recruiting. Obviously. For me, can the staff do enough to get official visits locked in for David Stone and Xadavien Sims? Getting these two locked in for official visits would really start pulling momentum back in our favor recruiting-wise.

Maxwell Klitzke: Are we going to see signs that the secondary will lean more toward man coverage this fall?

Based on PFF data, the MSU secondary found themselves playing man 25-30 percent of the time. Now, while in man, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses, as defenders targeted at least five times allowed a reception rate of .7187. However, MSU gave up nine touchdowns in the zone, compared to only four in man.

We all have terrorizing flashbacks of a Minnesota man with two first names walking up and down the field while MSU was in zone coverage and off-man coverage. I’m hoping that another offseason program with this talented but young secondary would give Harlon Barnett and newly hired Jim Salgado the opportunity to play more press man-coverage and even man-match zone coverage as opposed to a spot-drop zone.

A lot of jobs rest on the performance of the secondary this fall and it’ll be interesting to see how schematically different it will be given the lack of success since Me; Tucker, a defensive back and Nick Saban disciple himself, headed up the program.

Chris Davis: While most of us have our eyes locked on the quarterback battle, there’s another competition that has my interest. I’m wanting to see which running back is ready to take over behind what should be an improved offensive line. Between Jalen Berger, Jaren Mangham, and Nathan Carter, someone needs to become the difference maker that this backfield lacked last year.

Owen Schuchaskie: I’m excited to see who emerges as the next big receiver. Keon Coleman has WR1 locked down no doubt, and you have to think that Tre Mosley will be the second option. Montorie Foster is a name a few people will probably leave out, after an injury in 2022. Behind that, there’s been word that Tyrell Henry, and Jaron Glover have been putting in solid reps. Antonio Gates Jr. should be in line to battle for some reps as well.

The spring game should give us a look at all of the options behind Keon and Mosley, as Courtney Hawkins has already alluded to it being a deep wide receiver battle this offseason.

Anthony Garvert: I’m looking forward to seeing a healthy offensive line in year four. The past few spring games have seen quite a few injuries in the trenches. Chris Kapilovic finally has a few of his own recruits as upperclassmen. MSU’s most successful teams in recent history were maulers up front, and my hope is we will be closer to that so that Nate Carter and Jalen Berger can really feast.

Zack Theis: I am looking forward to watching which quarterback plays the best and has the most confidence. I am also looking for the matchup between the offensive and defensive linemen. Lastly, I’m looking forward to seeing which players in the secondary will take a step up to be the starters.

Connor Muldowney: I just want to see some semblance of an offense regardless of who’s at quarterback. I’d obviously like to see someone step up and prove themselves as QB1, but I need to see that initiative.

And I’m all-in on Nathan Carter. Give me all the stock in this dude.


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