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April 21, 2010

Take Green and the over

MSU player draft surprises: Dan France going early at NT, and Le'Veon Bell going before Edwin Baker at RB. Don't forget, two years ago we wondered if it meant anything that Kirk Cousins was picked before Nick Foles, and one year ago Caulton Ray was the first back picked (and eventually won the starting job for the 2009 season opener, but doesn't that seem about three years ago?)

    In the case of Bell, you have to look at how the draft went. Larry Caper went first to the White team, so the Green team probably knew that if it took Baker, White would take Bell, leaving the Green with no bruisers at the position. Green would have had Baker and the other freshmen early enrollee, Nick Hill. Smaller speed guys. Plus, Bell has been one of the buzz makers of the spring.

    In the case of France, the defensive line is depleted (Jerel Worthy and Colin Neely are out, and today we found out that Kevin Pickelman is on the injured list as well). So quality players there are scarce. Still, France has been out of the discussion and now he's in it.

    “He’s one of the people we felt like coming in that if we wanted to win, we had to have him,” Chris L. Rucker told our Dan Kilbridge (who covered the draft and will have a full story on it Thursday) of France. “I think he’s gonna surprise some people 'cause (not) too many people really know about him. We know about him, but when the fans get to see what he brings I think they’ll enjoy it.”

    Here are the likely starting lineups for Saturday's game:


    QB: Kirk Cousins

    FB: Adam Setterbo

    RB: Le'Veon Bell

    WR: B.J. Cunningham

    WR: Mark Dell

    TE: Dion Sims

    LT: John Deyo

    LG: Joel Foreman (if he can go, he's questionable)

    C: John Stipek

    RG: Antonio Jeremiah

    RT: J'Michael Deane

    PK: Kevin Muma


    DE: Johnathan Strayhorn

    DT: Cameron Jude

    DT: Blake Pacheco

    DE: Denzel Drone

    LB: Chris Norman

    LB: Greg Jones

    LB: Jon Misch

    CB:  Johnny Adams

    CB: Chase Parker

    S: Jairus Jones

    S: Patrick White

    P: Aaron Bates


    QB: Andrew Maxwell

    FB: Josh Rouse

    RB: Larry Caper OR Edwin Baker (I get to have an "OR" in my depth chart, too)

    WR: Keshawn Martin

    WR: Keith Nichol

    TE: Charlie Gantt

    LT: D.J. Young

    LG: Ethan Ruhland

    C: Nate Klatt

    RG: Chris McDonald

    RT: Jared McGaha

    PK: Dan Conroy


    DE: Tyler Hoover

    DT: Blake Treadwell

    DT: Dan France

    DE: Todd Anderson OR Corey Freeman

    LB: Eric Gordon

    LB: Max Bullough OR Steve Gardiner

    LB: Jeremy Gainer OR Denicos Allen

    CB:  Chris L. Rucker

    CB: Dana Dixon OR Mitchell White

    S: Trenton Robinson

    S: Marcus Hyde

    P: Kyle Selden

    Along with the fact that they're fun, these drafts help illuminate a team's strengths and weaknesses. MSU has a lot more proven offensive players than defensive players at this point (and injuries aren't helping the defense). Looking at these lineups, I predict the coaches will do something to help the White team's interior defensive line situation (playing all 3-4 would help, I guess, but it'll probably be a personnel switch).

    I also predict lots of points will be scored, and Green will score more of them. White has Jones, but Green has Cousins and a better defense from top to bottom. But forget the steaks and the franks. There are a lot of individual things worth watching in this game, such as:

    * The freshmen. Both backs and Max Bullough have realistic hopes of playing in the fall. We'll have a better idea of how realistic after Saturday.

    * The kickers. First public test for Dan Conroy and Kevin Muma, who are said to be in a tight competition.

    * Tyler Hoover. MSU needs him to take the next step. He has looked good in practice, and on Saturday he'll get to test himself against tackles D.J. Young and Jared McGaha.

    * Antonio Jeremiah. Is he really 360? Can he move it? Is he really pushing for a starting spot at right guard?

    * Fred Smith at fullback. Really don't know what to think about this, but it should be interesting. He's Rouse's backup on the White team.

    * Dion Sims. Boundless talent, let's see how the offseason treated him.

    * Chris Norman: See Dion Sims.

    * Keith Nichol. Obviously.

    * The new ends. How close are Denzel Drone and Corey Freeman to seeing the field in a real game? Drone has earned a good share of praise from Mark Dantonio.

    * The new defensive backs. Patrick White, Dana Dixon, Jairus Jones, is anyone emerging?

    * Chase Parker. See, this is why spring games are cool. Parker is a walk-on from Mason, a 5-9 junior-to-be whose name keeps popping up in the scrimmage recaps. And it looks like he's going to get a whole game, opposite Johnny Adams, as a No. 1 cornerback, checking guys like Dell and Cunningham. Walk-ons matter. Ask Wisconsin. Ask MSU. Two years ago, a guy named Blair White was the No. 3 receiver for the Green team -- quite possibly drafted lower by MSU seniors than he'll be this weekend by an NFL team.

    UPDATE: Redshirt freshman linebacker Jeremy Gainer is indeed on the Green team, so he and Allen are candidates to start at an outside spot.



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Joe Rexrode
MSU Sports Reporter

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