Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Spartans' O-line depth takes more hits
By Adam Rittenberg
Coach Mark Dantonio's message to Michigan State's offensive line hasn't changed.
"Pound green pound," Dantonio said Tuesday.
Dantonio isn't going to deviate from his desire to run the football despite a very rough performance (29 yards on 23 attempts) in Saturday's loss to Notre Dame. But the Spartans' offensive front will need to get it done with some new faces as the injury bug has arrived.
A day after Michigan State announced starting right tackle Skyler Burkland will miss the rest of the season following left ankle surgery, Dantonio said starting center Blake Treadwell and backup tackle Jared McGaha will be sidelined with knee sprains.
Michigan State will get Travis Jackson back this week, and Jackson is expected to start Saturday against Central Michigan. Micajah Reynolds, who has moved from defensive line back to offense to help with the depth issues, is listed as the No. 2 left tackle behind Dan France.
Junior college transfer Fou Fonoti will start in Burkland's spot against the Chippewas.
But depth is a significant question for a group replacing three starters from 2010. While sparking the run game is paramount and Michigan State allowed only two sacks against Notre Dame, the line also must protect senior quarterback Kirk Cousins.
"We've got to get the right players in the right positions," Dantonio said. "It's such a fundamental game, but it's also tied to schematics. It's not just brute strength there."
It's essential the line builds some confidence and chemistry against Central Michigan before visiting Ohio State.