Answering your Michigan State Football Questions and Emails…
Hondo. Now that the team is back practicing can you tell me if Brian Lewerke is back and how are he and Rocky Lombardi dividing the reps? Kurt Marcus
He is back practicing and Brian Lewerke is taking the first team reps according to multiple people inside the program. Practice HAS NOT been open to the media.
Hondo, Love your articles. You are excellent and provide the greatest insight of all beat writers. Of all my concerns regarding the MSU offense over the past four years (play calling, execution, recruiting,..) it has been the offensive line philosophy. (Mark) Staten has under-achieved greatly over the past four years. These are his recruits. Lack of execution is also coaching. Is it the OL philosophy of interchangeable parts? The OL is made up with ‘light” athletic players who can play multiple positions. We can’t execute and we get pushed around. I would build a two-deep OL by position and tell Mannie to put twenty pounds of muscle on each player. I then would get rid of Staten. My two cents. Don Beck
Don, I think it is very fair to be critical of the play of the OL. There are several highly touted players and every one of them this staff wanted. If it was a problem of one player not developing, that would be something that would make me question that player. But when you have a multiple of players, highly sought after and talented that are not performing well, that falls right in the lap of coaching. Fairly or unfairly, Michigan State’s development and coaching of offensive lineman gets hammered in recruiting
Hondo, please withhold my name, but as a father of a defensive starter I can’t help but wonder this. If Coach Dantonio wants a power running offense like Iowa or Wisconsin, why do we have one of the smallest offensive lines not only in the Big Ten but also the power five? It is how they recruit every year so it must be by choice, but it totally seems illogically and honestly, ridiculous. We have a smaller athletic line that fits with the philosophy of a west coast offense. Like a Northwestern. (Name withheld, but verified as a defensive starters parent)
That is a great question and you are NOT the only parent of a player to ask, nor are you the only fan. It is a very logical question and one I plan to ask at the recruiting press conference.
If Coach D decides to replace/add offense coaches, would his offensive style hinder innovative coaches from coming to Michigan State? Jesse Feldpausch
Yes. There is going to be no top tier coach that would come without the ability to run his side of the ball. A younger guy trying to move through the ranks would, but not a proven commodity.
Hondo have you heard of any significant players transferring? M. Stoddard
Yes, one and I am not sure that will happen. Nothing to report at this time.
In the summer you stated this was Coach’s best staff ever. Four months later? What say you? Blessings always, Dan
Hi Dan. This is a great and very fair question. I do think it was his best staff, cumulatively. He lost Harlon Barnett which was a massive loss. But the loss of Mark Snyder was a massive benefit. Chuck Bullough and Paul Haynes and Don Treadwell in a role made the D the best ever. Offensively it was more of the same. The defensive staff is STELLAR. The offensive staff not named Terrence Samuel is suspect at best. But this is nearly the same staff he has had for a long time. Jim Bollman is a great football coach, that can do more, but that isn’t the role he has. But the way it is set up now, anyone not named Samuel is suspect.
I would also add that Nick Saban’s philosophy on coaches, assistants, is the best I have ever heard. Number one he wants turnover every year so that he can bring in fresh ideas and innovators. He is married to winning, not a scheme as you can tell by his adaption on offense. He despises getting stale. He and Lane Kiffin were not friends at all. But he got Lane ASAP when he could. Secondly, he hires good coaches that are great recruiters. If you can’t recruit you are not going to be on his staff. He believes it is easier to win with great recruiters who are good coaches, than great coaches that are mediocre recruiters.
Hondo, I noticed that MSU placed “0” players on the 3 All Big-Ten Offensive Teams. I don’t know if MSU can be any worse than they were this year. You never know though, Coach D may stay status quo and we are the same or worse next year. I don’t buy the excuses about injuries as every team has them, so that simply exposed the “depth” or lack of depth on this team. If your backup players are significantly worse than your starters, you are not recruiting well and/or not developing your players. Either way, that is on the coaches. Most significantly is lack OL talent or OL coaching or both. They just flat out can’t move the line of scrimmage and cannot protect the QB. Coach D made a huge mistake playing an injured Brian Lewerke who now has a lack of confidence which should have been predictable. The stubbornness in not changing the Offensive play calling to be more explosive is on the Coaching Staff. So many short passes to the outside instead of clear out routes, crossing plays (ie OSU), slants and deep post shots. They need to be calling plays with a chance to score and stop trying to play “keep away” which clearly hasn’t worked the last 3+yrs. Our opponents have figured out how to stop the MSU Offense clearly. So the $1M question is how much (if any) will Coach D make changes to the Offense? This feels like a cross-road to me. No changes and MSU remains a 7-5 type of team with an occasional good season and probably worse seasons. Brian Schultz
Fair points. MSU has offensive talent. This is NOT on the players. As I stated previously these are the guys that they wanted. I think coaching has been suspect and scheme vs. type of players is fair to question as well.
Hondo the Purdue QB made all-Big Ten and head to head Rocky Lombardi outplayed him. I know, he had to face the MSU D and Lombardi faced the Purdue D, but I like what I see from Rocky. Pete Stevens
Agree. MSU issues are not with the QBs. They need to develop, they need to be assisted by better play calling and utilization of talent, but the stable at MSU for QB is there.
Hondo, So much discussion about the Spartans poor offensive performance this season. It seems three main reasons have been identified — injuries, play calling (at least by the fans and some media), and execution. But don’t 2 of those 3 fall on the coaching staff? I’ve complained before, but I just don’t see how this can continue to be ignored! Going into the season it appeared we were as much as three deep in several positions. And some said several third stringers would have started some years. Well, many did end up starting or at least playing significant minutes over the season. So what happened? Tim Price
I think you can clearly and fairly point to player execution for a big reason 2018 was a bad season. But as stated previously, it wasn’t one player here or there on a roster of 115. It was multiple players that these coaches wanted. The story of 2018 is the failure of the offensive staff not named Terrence Samuel.
Based on what I’ve watched this football season and the running backs that have played a lot more than him…does Weston Bridges stick around or transfer. It seems that he’s dropped almost off the charts at 4th or 5th option as far as playing time. Thanks, Dave
Yes, I expect him to return.
Hondo, as I’ve opined to you in the past, just keep up the pressure on the coaching staff by asking the tough questions that many reporters are hard to press. A 7-5 season is more than a disappointment. Frankly it’s disgraceful given the talent level. if we’ve all been led to believe that the coaching staff recruits good talent. Big changes are required to stop this insanity and right the ship. P.J Kus Class of 78
I have not once hidden the fact of my respect for Coach Dantonio. Nor have I hidden the fact that I consider him a friend. To me he has earned the right to run his program. But, I can also tell you that as his friend I do not want to see him ruin his legacy. To me, he seems to be at a tipping point. If he sticks with his staff and gets back to winning at a high level, his loyalty and stubbornness will become that of legend. If he sticks with them and it fails, he will be remembered as a man who was his own worst enemy. Mark is a good man. He is an honorable man, I want him to have the legacy I think he deserves as one of the greatest coaches in any sport, ever, at MSU. Great coaches are loyal to the program, the fans and University above all else.
Is Dantonio actually considering making an oc change? I just don’t buy it. If he did, do you think he would go after Dan Enos? It’s sort of insane to think that Dantonio has built a program up so much but just doesn’t seem to want to take it to the next level with actually good offensive coaches. A coach once said “Pride comes before the fall”. Who would have thought that could be Dantonio a downfall. Nick
Dan Enos is going to be the OC at Alabama. That is not a guess, it is a fact. Secondly a Dan Enos comeback to MSU would be VERY complicated and difficult. Lastly, Dantonio does not want to make any changes to his staff.
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