From nose tackle, to center, to offensive guard, fourth-year junior Blake Treadwell has just about seen it all. And after missing all but three games last year at center due to a season-ending leg injury, Treadwell has made the move to left guard to replace Joel Foreman.
Now, with a fracture in his tibia, offensive coordinator Dan Roushar suspects that Treadwell will be out for the next four or five weeks. Stepping in will be red-shirt freshman Jack Allen.
“I’ve been very impressed, I thought he (Allen) really had a heck of a scrimmage,” Roushar said during an interview on Aug. 15 at Case Hall. “He’s very sound, he’s an excellent run-blocker. I think we got a guy that has a chance to be very special. I like his work-ethic and determination. He gets his pads forward. We’re pretty impressed with him and keep our fingers crossed that he continues to grow.”
Obviously, with Treadwell out, Michigan State’s offensive line loses a lot of experience. Allen has no game-experience, but Roushar and the coaching staff are more than confident to put him on the field.
“Our staff feels very comfortable with Jack at that spot,” Roushar said. “You lose some depth, you lose the opportunity to move some things around. With Tready and Jack, you’re really talking, potentially one is the starter at guard and one is the next guy in at center. We’ve lost that ability, it’s gonna hurt us a little bit there. If something were to happen to Travis (Jackson) we got plans in mind of how we’d work it but I’ve been pleased with Jack.”
At wide receiver, where there is already tons of inexperience, two true freshmen are currently out with injuries.
“We had high hopes for Aaron (Burbridge),” Roushar said. “They say six weeks. That’s a long ways out for a wide receiver, particularly not getting the reps right now and learning the system.”
The other freshman wideout, Monty Madaris, has a high ankle sprain.
Roushar was hoping to get those two involved early on, but did say that Bennie Fowler, Tony Lippett, Keith Mumphery, A.J. Sims, DeAnthony Arnett, and Jeremy Langford were his top six. Walk-on A.J. Troup is seventh on the depth chart, according to Roushar.
That being said, I predict that Burbridge and Madaris will redshirt this year.
Langford, who has been listed as a cornerback and running back on previous depth charts, is a guy that Roushar and head coach Mark Dantonio have always said that needs to be on the field.
“Jeremy has improved dramatically from the spring as a wide receiver,” Roushar said. “He’s been very inconsistent in catching the football, much like Keshawn (Martin) early in his career. We see the same qualities; a guy that we can hand the football to, a guy that we can throw the bubble to, he’s got tailback-like skills and he’s got a physical nature about him.”
Fowler, who had a very productive red-shirt freshman season in 2010 and only played in five games in 2011 due to a foot injury, is the leader of this year’s receiving corps.
“He (Fowler) has confidence in his ability,” Roushar said. “I think he’s the one guy that stands up and says ‘hey I’m gonna make this play, get me the ball.”
At tight-end, junior Dion Sims, who was held out of the jersey scrimmage and has battled injuries throughout his career, is the clear starter at the position. Sophomore Andrew Gleichert is second on the depth chart, according to Roushar.
Roushar on others at the tight end position: ”Paul Lang is starting to make a move. I’ve been very impressed with him. Derek Hoebing has been very solid just in terms of run-blocking. Denzel Drone is probably working in at that fifth spot.”
While many are concerned about how junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell will perform, Roushar feels that the biggest challenge this year “is to deal with the success that we’ve had.”
“This football team’s done nothing,” Roushar said. “Last year’s team, the year before, those teams won (11) games. This football team hasn’t done anything yet. We’ve gotta go out and earn it. We’ve gotta maintain that passion, that determination, that drive.”
What teammates have to say about sophomore fullback Niko Palazeti:
Sophomore running back Nick Hill: “Niko Palazeti has come out practice after practice, proven himself that he can catch the ball and also make the crucial blocks.”
Senior lineman Chris McDonald: “He’s just one of those guys that’s willing to do whatever it takes to put his hand on the ground. He’s been in the weight room, he’s gotten stronger, but most importantly he’s been in the film room and his knowledge of the game has been tremendous and he’s just doing what he needs to do and he wants to play and he wants to win.”
McDonald on Palazeti running the ball: “I think he has that urge, and he has that pride and he has that chip on his shoulder and I think he wants it. I sometimes think that he’s an o-lineman at heart and that’s how he goes after it. He’ll get his chance and he’ll do wonders.”