We hear you, people: "State finishing 4th?! Are you f***** kiddin' me?!" Never underestimate the evil of Jim Tressel - or his former assistants. Mark Dantonio might not be an X's and O's genius, but for once we're calling on Sparty to be an overachiever with Tresselball's blueprint of minimizing turnovers and penalties:

2007 Preview: Here
2007 Record: 7-6 (3-5)
Projected 2008 Finish: 4th
Returning Starters: 13
Head Coach: Mark Dantonio
Best Player: RB Javon Ringer

Good News:

- Mel Kiper is calling Ringer the top senior running back in the country (Ian Johnson, anyone?). We're not sure how Javizzle is going to handle the pounding of the NFL, but the guy's got speed to burn and he'll run laps around crappy Big Ten D's - see his 200-yd performance vs. Indiana last year.

- Aside from his dog-shit performance in the Champs Sports Bowl (14-36, 4 INT), QB Brian Hoyer was a pleasant surprise for the Spartans and developed into the high efficiency quarterback needed for Tresselball.

- In one year MSU went from the John L. Smith circus show to one of the most disciplined teams in the country (12th fewest penalties, T-18 fewest turnovers per game). Big ups to Dan the Man on that one.

- Sparty needs to catch a break this year after losing all six games by 7 points or less. MSU raised some eyebrows only losing to OSU by a touchdown, then had devastating back-to-back losses - a double-overtime heartbreaker against Iowa and a classic choke job vs. Michigan. And coming from the Tressel Coaching Tree, who knows what kind of voodoo magic Dantonio has up his sleeve.

- Opening at Cal is probably a loss. But after that, State has a very serious shot at entering the Ohio State game on Oct. 18 at 6-1. If they get on a roll early and build some confidence, watch out.

- True freshman WR Fred Smith is an absolute beast at 240 pounds and could have the same impact of "Marcus" Arrelious Benn did for Illinois last year.

Not-So-Good News:

- Walking everywhere with their arms interlocked? Really lame.

- There are a lot of holes to fill on offense. One-year wonder Devin Thomas bolted for the NFL and they'll sorely miss the bruising style of RB Jehuu Caulcrick and TE Kellen Davis, especially on the goal line. State's two starting wideouts are Mark Dell and Deon Curry, not to be confused with Dell Curry. Though MSU would probably rather have him.

- The defense was only marginally better than the 2006 squad. Dantonio gets a free pass after overhauling John L.'s ridiculous 4-2-5 formation. The D-line is especially questionable. We'll see just how good a defensive coordinator Dantonio is with this no-name crew.

- Many of these players are still a little messed up in the head from the John L. debacle. It was painfully obvious during the Michigan game that they knew they were going to choke. What will happen this year when they get into a close game?


How pathetic is it that Jim Tressel has us so freaked out we're even afraid of his old assistants? Very. But Michigan State was so close to a much better season and with senior leadership in the backfield, we picture Sparty as this year's Illinois.

Expect an absolute monster year from Javon Ringer, especially in the early-going. He had 1450 yards last season. Expect closer to 2,000 with the rag-tag D's MSU faces this year.

In the past, the wheels would have gone careening off the walls in this three-week stretch: Ohio St., at Michigan and Wisconsin. All they have to do is win one of those games (preferably Michigan) and it will be considered a success. Not only that, they could be on the verge of a 10-win season entering their bowl game.


Anonymous said...

to the blogger who posted that State lost Greg Jones: i don't know who you were thinking of, but Jones was only a freshman last year.

Anonymous said...

yall on some crazy shit now...but really , the preview is shaping up so keep'em coming