Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Miami: South Beach

If you haven't heard by now Miami is in a lot of trouble for being a naughty program. Convicted Ponzi Schemer Nevin Shapiro has decided to come forward admitting to many millions of dollars of improper benefits he provided for players from 2002-2010. "Lil' Luke" as he was known in team circles was guilty of three things, 1.) Having a nickname that made him sound like the member of the Sopranos that gets kicked in the nuts all the time and then his scene "magically" gets cut from the show. 2.) Funding many acts that are both illegal in terms of NCAA Bylaw and that are ACTUALLY illegal. 3.) Being that guy, who goes on a "shooting rampage" and then "turns the gun on himself". If you're going to be a jerkass and mess up your favorite team, speaking as a fan, keep it to yourself instead of securing yourself a book deal and ruining everyone else's good time.

I've wondered for years why kids continue to take their talents to South Beach. Urban Dictionary defines "I'll be taking my talents to South Beach" as:

1. To inform someone that the current situation is no longer working.

2. F*** off.

3. You're not doing it for me anymore, or what you offer is lacking.

What the other schools were offering was indeed lacking and this helps explain why from 2006-2010 Miami was averaging a 14th place recruiting class while finishing with a crap record. A question in my mind though, is that there are schools that finished in front of them in recruiting with far more middling success on the field. What are those schools doing? But I digress.

This article sums up how I have felt about Football and Men's Basketball for a couple years now. It is brilliant. Do you believe in earning money for doing good work? Do you think it's fair that with my favorite Greg Jones jersey the only person in the entire world who cannot make money on that jersey is Greg Jones? Yeah me either. If any article can change your mind on a scholarship being adequate compensation for football players generating 100 million dollars in revenue for their school, it's this one.

The kids at Miami committed a series of very serious violations. Death penalty to Miami football serious violations. After reading what I have in this article and several others, after spending many hours debating that a scholarship is not adequate recompense while the school makes millions of dollars on the backs of these kids. The only thing I feel firmly planted in saying on the subject is that many of these violations are ridiculous and that most things in life, you can watch the show and enjoy or you can peel back the facade, see the dirty underside and learn to love it anyway. That's what I've done with college football.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Predictive Preseason Pecking Order

I'm taking a break from Assume the Position today, if I don't get some work done, I'll be assuming the position later on this week with my boss.

I've always thought that preseason rankings are crap. This appears to be a widely held belief among many people who believe in science, logic and all other things represented by sanity and not magic. I find this year's preseason ranking of our Spartans about as exciting as all of the mosquitoes that have returned to mid-Michigan in the past couple of weeks. On a side note, it's occasionally difficult not to cackle with glee when the light is making mosquito popcorn outside.

The Spartans are exiting the preseason ranked 17th according to the USA Today poll. In the last nine years the 17th ranked team in the USA Today Poll has finished 9-4, 9-4, 11-3, 12-1, 11-3, 9-3, 8-4, 10-3(Oh Minnesota, you had Glen Mason and he made magic out of manure for you) and 10-3. The Preseason 17th ranked team has finished ranked two of the nine years, once 6th and once 21st. If you take the W-L records of those teams that would average out to 10-3 for us this if we finished ranked 17th. The W-L records of those who were preseason 17 are as follows: 6-7, 12-1(ranked), 11-2(ranked), 6-7, 6-7 , 5-6, 5-6, 8-5, and 7-6. Applied to this year's schedule that averages out to: 8-5. So what does all this mean? Precisely Diddley.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Assume the Position: Wide Receivers

This is part 4a of an ambitiously stated seven part series. This series will focus on introducing MSU fans to their position group players. It is not intended to replace the quality analysis that media types can provide, but we give it our best shot. We'll work backwards from the most stable position groups to the more dynamic ones so we can write about the most volatile groups last.

The Spartans return all but one starter last year from the Wide Receiver position. Mark Dell is now catching passes from Tim Tebow in Denver. The core group of BJ Cunningham, Keshawn Martin and Keith Nichol returns for 2011 and is looking to mess some folks up. This group at first glance should be as talented as any in the big 10. As always we proceed alphabetically.

Juwan Caesar

Juwan Caesar is a Floridian transplant who is going to learn what cold is this winter. He committed to Michigan State in January over offers from West Virginia, Illinois and Minnesota. Despite his "meh" offer sheet, the staff and media seemed particularly excited for his commitment. He sports elite size at 6'4 and 210 and seems to run pretty fluidly.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Assume the Position: Running Backs

This is part 3b of an ambitiously stated seven part series. This series will focus on introducing MSU fans to their position group players. It is not intended to replace the quality analysis that media types can provide, but we give it our best shot. We'll work backwards from the most stable position groups to the more dynamic ones so we can write about the most volatile groups last.

Our running back situation is probably the best it's been since I started following MSU football during the days of Sedrick Irvin. We're deep at running back and we have varying skill sets at running back. This is a position of strength for MSU in 2011 and probably even moreso in 2012. This group has the ability to make right a bad day at the office.

A video is worth a 1000 words.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Assume the Position: Fullbacks

This is part 3a of an ambitiously stated seven part series. This series will focus on introducing MSU fans to their position group players. It is not intended to replace the quality analysis that media types can provide, but we give it our best shot. We'll work backwards from the most stable position groups to the more dynamic ones so we can write about the most volatile groups last.

The fullback can be a very important position in the pro-style offense we run. Faster than an offensive lineman but still can deliver a punishing hit to break a running back free. If a defense is napping and loses sight of the fullback, they can kill you in play action. The first play of the Mark Dantonio era offensively was a 16ish yard pass play to the fullback in play action.

MSU currently has five fullbacks on the roster: Todd Anderson, Jeff Bobek, Niko Palazeti, Trevon Pendleton and Adam Setterbo. Of the five, only Niko Palazeti was recruited out of high school and offered a scholarship at the fullback position, Todd Anderson and Adam Setterbo I believe are scholarship players this year as well. Like years prior, I expect Dantonio to use the fullbacks on a rotational basis to try and keep defenses guessing.

Todd Anderson

Todd Anderson played DE last year and made some noise earlier in the season. At 6'2" and 260 he's got ideal size to play fullback and a nasty streak forged on the MSU defensive line. Anderson emerged as the top fullback candidate during Spring Practice and figures to be the likely starter in this position.

2011 Prediction

Anderson should be the starter and go-to guy at Fullback this season. It's rumored his pass-catching and blocking are coming along smashingly. After last year, where the fullback position seemed to be down a bit I think he can bring back some of the nastiness that'll get you a 3rd and 1 conversion when you really need it. Which is always. You always really need a 3rd and 1 conversion.

Jeff Bobek

As a member of the class of 2009 Jeff Bobek was recruited as an inside linebacker. He decided to walk-on at Michigan State. His brother Brian was a four-star recruit for the Buckeyes and will be a true freshman this year.

2011 Prediction

Bobek is not expected to contribute significant minutes at this time.

Niko Palazeti

Palazeti was recruited and accepted an offer to play fullback for Michigan State. To my knowledge he is the first Dantonio recruit to receive a scholarship offer at the fullback position. While other fullbacks have been on scholarship, he is the first I know of to be recruited as such. Palazeti was a late commit in the recruiting class of 2010. This year he will be eligible as a redshirt freshman. At 6'1 and 250, he's got the solid build you're looking for in a blocking and receiving FB.

2011 Prediction

Palazeti will see minutes on the field this year. I don't believe he is the present of the fullback position, but I think he is the future. With four years left to play he's gonna be blowing holes open for running backs not yet committed in 2014. I'd expect him to be part of the fullback rotation and see significant minutes in run-heavy games and/or blowouts.

Trevon Pendleton

Pendleton was the third ranked fullback and a three star recruit according to rivals in the class of 2011. He had scholarship offers from Air Force and Ball State. Sadly, no school starting with the letter C or below elected to offer him. He has come to Michigan State as a preferred walk-on. He and Palazeti are without question the future of the fullback position probably starting in 2012. At 5'11 and 230 he's really going to be in a good position to bowling ball his way through a LB or two.

2011 Prediction

I suspect Pendleton will redshirt this year.

Adam Setterbo

Setterbo is entering his fifth year as a Spartan. He was also a preferred walk-on coming out of high school. He has been a valuable member of the scout team in the past few years and that should translate to some game time this year.

2011 Prediction

Setterbo will see the field rotationally this year although I suspect it'll only be a handful of times. Still, despite limited game time, guys like Setterbo are what teams are built around. Hardworking dudes who keep coming back even if they don't have all of the physical talent in the world.

Worst Case Scenario: As always depth is a bit of an issue although not as severe as at other positions. If we lost Anderson and Palazeti odds are we'd just go to more single-back sets and rotate in Setterbo more often as well as use some of our TEs in an H-back type set up. The offense could survive some losses at this position.

Best Case Scenario: Really fullbacks are about what they ADD for a team. A good fullback can pop your running back free for an extra 2 yards between the tackles. A good fullback can sneak away when no one is looking and grab a pass for a first down. Anderson has shown a knack for making plays when he's on the field in the past, if that continues at the FB position this could be an immediate strength for us. If Palazeti shows promise immediately and quickly we could begin converting 3rd and shorts easier against the Iowas and Wiskys of the world.

Overall Assessment:The fullback position is under a period of quiet transition. Palazeti and Pendleton represent a young future at the position which will help us convert 3rd and 1s with even more consistency in the upcoming 2-3 years. 2011 will serve as a valuable transition year to start breaking in these young guys who will be making our opponents D black and blue for years to come. Anderson seems to be in a position to play the position well right now, but I think will aid in developing our young guys.

College Football Zealots Michigan State Season Preview

We at A Beautiful Day For Football were nicely invited by Kevin at College Football Zealots to contribute to their daily season preview series. Working up through their own Top 20, they’re posting one preview a day. Clocking it at #15 is Michigan State, so today CFBZ posted our mutual Michigan State season preview. Ty did his best to answer Kevin’s questions completely, accurately, and without bias—but that’s not really how he rolls, so he just tried to keep the raging homerism to a dull roar.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Here's Your Shield: Kodi Kieler

The "Here's Your Shield" series will be monitoring MSU football and basketball commitments. We'll try to do a detailed breakdown of who the kids are and how they'll be helping the teams they've committed to.

On Monday night, when my car broke down and I was sitting in the parking lot of VG's where I held my first job as a teenager waiting for someone to come pick me up, I saw the Spartans had picked up a commitment from Kodi Kieler a 6'6" 305 athlete from Gibraltar Carlson. Kieler was offered at Offensive Tackle and accepted.

Kieler has a pretty so-so offer sheet consisting of Minnesota, Purdue and the MAC. You might think I mean all of the schools offered, but I don't. I mean the MAC sent a single offer redeemable at all 12 schools. With this commitment, I believe MSU has closed out their OL recruiting for the 2012 cycle. Scout lists Kieler as a three-star prospect, Rivals as of yet has no rating.

This has led to a pretty goodly amount of hand-wringing from the MSU faithful as some fans believe that we could have vetted some "better" prospects before offering a kid who did not come to MSU summer camp. The last recruit I remember this much hand-wringing about was LeVeon Bell, and he sure sucked.* While hand-wringing about the quality of recruit does not inversely correlate to the recruits success, I remember similar whining about Trenton Robinson, Darqueze Dennard, Trae Waynes(haven't seen him play yet)and Derek Hoebing. Congrats Kodi Kieler, if Spartan questioning of ability is any indication of future success you have a 75 percent chance of starting by your senior year. **

* - Sarcasm.
** - True Fact.

In the Big Ten, the Iowas, MSUs and Wisconsin's of the world love to pick up 6'6 240 lbs type TEs because they can grow into TEs, OTs, DEs, DTs and even sometimes OGs. With Kieler, I think they saw another Dan France type where France was projected as a DT but might be more successful as an OT. Kieler is listed with Rivals as a Strongside Defensive End, but it's clear the intent is for him to play OT.

If YouTube video existed it would go here. Since there is not, there is video behind the Rivals paywall here

The BDF BFD Take: Kieler is a kid with a so-so offer sheet who from what I can tell did not attend any camps this summer. This smacks on a much smaller level of the Keshawn Martin situation where he did not attend any camps and thus was not noticed. If the staff was willing to offer despite the lack of a camp appearance and no pressing need to fill the spot(it is only August after all) you can bet Dantonio and crew want him. That's good enough for me.

Kieler appears to have good feet and a nice quick burst, he's got the right kind of frame to put on a few more pounds, but doesn't need to put on a lot of weight to be effective at the next level. I'd expect him to redshirt his freshman year as most of his best highlights appear to be on the DE side of the ball. Additionally, if you're starting a true freshman OT you're usually in trouble. By all accounts Kieler looks to be a solid pickup with some boom potential if the transition from DE to OT goes smoothly.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Assume the Position: Quarterbacks

This is part two of an ambitiously stated seven part series. This series will focus on introducing MSU fans to their position group players. It is not intended to replace the quality analysis that media types can provide, but we give it our best shot. We'll work backwards from the most stable position groups to the more dynamic ones so we can write about the most volatile groups last.

This entry should have about as much drama as a sleep laboratory. Kirk Cousins is our quarterback, a fifth-year senior and third year starter. Andrew Maxwell is not pushing to oust him from the position. Kirk Cousins will be your Youngstown State starter as well as take the final snap in our final game this year barring injury.

Kirk Cousins

The most interesting story about how Kirk Cousins came to be the player he is today is how much competition he's had to play through to get the job. The quick recap is that Keith Nichol accepted an offer to play football at MSU in 2005, then decommitted with the firing of John L Smith in November of 2006. Kirk Cousins committed to MSU in January of 2007 after the hiring of Mark Dantonio. Mark Dantonio then received a commitment from Nick Foles who decommitted from ASU after Dennis Erickson was fired. In fall of 2007, Dantonio had to redshirt one of the two QBs and selected Cousins. Foles would be the third string QB and Cousins the scout team QB.

Then... in 2008, Nick Foles left the program after it was Cousins shaping up to be Hoyer's backup and not Foles. A few months after this happened Keith Nichol decided it was time for him to come home and try to win back the MSU starting QB job. Over 2008 and well into game 5 or 6 of 2009 Cousins and Nichol battled to be the starting QB for the Spartans. Finally, he won the job outright mid-season in 2009 and hasn't looked back. The guy has proven himself over and over and over and over and will happily do it again from what I can tell.

Kirk Cousins is a leader and as much the leader of this team as anyone, he's a third year starter and a third year captain. His leadership qualities appear to be second to none, and he will probably be a Senator in the United States Congress someday.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Assume the Position: Special Teams

This is part one of an ambitiously stated seven part series. This series will focus on introducing MSU fans to their position group players. It is not intended to replace the quality analysis that media types can provide, but we give it our best shot. We'll work backwards from the most stable position groups to the more dynamic ones so we can write about the most volatile groups last.

Welcome, for lack of a better place to begin our introductory piece on the 2011 Spartans we shall begin at the beginning Special Teams group. No other group has the potential to flip the momentum of a game on a dime like Special Teams. Yet if they are not among the most consistent units on the field it'll cost you games and in a hurry. This year's Special Teams unit features stability in the kick returns arena and a newcomer at Punter. Without further adieu....

Punter

In 2010, the best quarterback on our team was none other than the pride of New Concord, Ohio, Aaron Bates. He wasn't too shabby a punter either. With a punting average of 45.0 yards Bates finished 14th nationally at the position. Mr. Bates will be replaced by Redshirt Freshman Mike Sadler from Grand Rapids or as my 2 year old calls it, Grand Rabbits. Mr. Sadler had offers from the likes of Alabama, LSU, USC, Northwestern, Purdue and Air Force. Despite Air Force's strong recruiting push, Mike selected MSU over LSU. He was a top 10 punter in 2010 by all three recruiting services(Scout, Rivals and MaxPrep). Mr. Sadler averaged 39.9 yards on 32 kicks in his senior year and converted a 58 yard field goal against Belding(pretty town, I thought anyway). He graduated high school with a 4.0 GPA.

2011 Prediction: I have no reason to think that Sadler will not be a great punter by the time he leaves MSU. MSU has put more than their fair share of kickers into the league. That said, we will miss Aaron Bates this year from a leadership perspective. Sadler looks to develop into a heady punter like bates over the years, but he's green and will need time. Back-up punter Kyle Selden is not expected to be a factor at this time.

Placekicking

Coming into 2010 this was a two-way race between Dan Conroy and Kevin Muma. Conroy as a preferred walk-on won the job from Kevin Muma and went 14 of 15 on the year including this miraculous game-tying kick against Notre Dame in our night game last year.