Here we continue our 2012 position previews. I aim to be occasionally right, barring that I’ll shoot for humor. For your enjoyment, I present the Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Fullbacks, Tight Ends and Offensive Line.
Projected Starters: Denicos Allen, Max Bullough, Chris Norman
Key Departures: No one. Absolutely no one.
In 2011, Max Bullough and Denicos Allen were tasked with the responsibility of replacing Greg Jones and Eric Gordon. Prior to the beginning of the 2011 campaign there were whispers that Bullough and Allen might be just as good, maybe even better than their predecessors. And they were every bit that good. The 2011 linebacker unit teamed up for 248 tackles, (32) TFL’s and one pick, whereas, the 2010 unit teamed up for 257 tackles, 17 TFLs and 4 picks. Every bit as good and depending on how you value TFLs maybe even better.
In 2012, the linebacking corps returns all three starters and a second string that would start for half the Big Ten and a third string that would start for a couple of Big Ten teams whose feelings I don’t want to hurt. Sorry Indiana. Even if he regresses slightly, Denicos Allen will still spend his time in the Big Ten harvesting the organs of Quarterbacks who are not spritely enough to get away. He might sell them on the black market, he might not. You don’t get to decide. Denicos Allen decides for you. Max Bullough will continue to be the pillar for the defense. His great Houdini act in 2011 was not replacing Jones’ production, it was knowing the defense well enough to get them in position. The internets have pointed to Chris Norman as the only guy who might be a little bit in danger of losing that starting job. Frankly this seems pretty damn unlikely to me, you don’t replace a four year starter. Unless….the other guys are that damned good.
The most obligatory video drop in MSU history… since Little Giants
The Other Guys
Whew. Where to start. If you are a scholarship linebacker at MSU in 2012, you could start next week at beautiful Indiana University. As an added perk, you’d be able to continue battling for the Old Oaken Bucket each year! Added perk part 2! You’ll never have to worry about the bus space to bring it home!
If my photoshoppin’ were a bit more up to snuff this would be where I would drop a pic of our elder statesmen as the Jedi Ghosts at the end of Return of the Jedi. All three of the following guys have played in the past and can hold down their spot in case of emergency. Last year, Kyler Elsworth had several key stops in the Wisky and ND games. TyQuan Hammock hits like a wrecking ball from hell. Steve Gardiner has looked ok in spot duty the past couple of seasons. Of these three expect Elsworth to play rotationally and the other two to play in cases of injury.
But that’s not the story of MSU’s depth at linebacker. The story is with kids from the classes of 2011 and 2012. These are the kids who are rumored to be pushing for playing time now. Just today,the Free Press did a post on how Ed Davis might just be another Greg Jones. Riley Bullough and Jamal Lyles are true freshmen who may yet see the field in 2012. Darien Harris has consistently been listed in the two deeps at the Star position. And Taiwan Jones, oh Taiwan Jones. Aside from having the coolest name on the team, he was the only true freshman to play in 2011. Whenever he was on the field he was the dude who looked impossibly large for his size. Also impossibly fast for his largeness. Jones goes 6’3 and 230 and figures to be one of those players MSU will find a way to get on the field.
The linebacking corps is set for many years to come even if Allen(RS-Soph), Bullough(Jr) and Norman(Sr) all leave after this year. Did I really just type a sentence that implied two underclassmen linebackers will be good enough to leave at the end of 2012? Damn.
MSU’s quality starters and depth at linebacker are unmatched anywhere in the Big Ten this year. I guess if Ohio State counted they might be close, but they don’t, so there’s that. The biggest “concern” is that two of the three starters might be so good they leave as underclassmen and I’d rather have problems of talent than “Get Yer Piss Hot” John L Smith problems. Behind the starters are a bevy of players ranging from experienced and talented to young and very talented. This is the deepest position group in my MSU memory with apologies to…no one I guess. Expect the linebackers to compensate from any drop-off from the loss of Worthy and continue punishing quarterbacks.