Aug 7, 2011
Dantonio Has Spartan Football's Eyes Set on Rose Bowl
The Spartans resume last season should have gotten them to Pasadena, but the shoddy BCS system and Wisconsin running up the score against their inferior opponents cost Michigan State their chance to smell roses.
Michigan State instead had to settle for a three-way, eventually two-way, split of the Big Ten Championship and a trip to the Capital One Bowl to face juggernaut Alabama. The Crimson Tide dispatched with the Spartans in Orlando, but Dantonio remained undeterred.
His recruiting class for this season is once again impressive, reeling in yet another top-prospect in the state of Michigan. Lawrence Thomas, LB Renaissance High, Detroit, joins the Spartans this season; and while the true-freshman may simply watch from the sidelines, his addition to the team shows that the green and white have reloaded after losing several of their top players this off-season.
Last season showed the country what Mark Dantonio was made of; he was a intense, defensive-minded coach who wasn't afraid to make the gutsy call when it needed to be made. From "Little Giants" to "Mouse Trap" Dantonio made sure opposing defensive coordinators could never count his team out.
The year after the Spartans collected all of their rivalry trophies, the head coach has his eyes set on something much different; roses.
Each season the Spartan football team his given a new motto to adhere to and this season the motto reflects the aspirations of the coach. This year's motto is; "P4RB." While that may just seem like text talk to most people, it means much more to Michigan State.
It means, "Prepare for Rose Bowl."
Big talk from the preseason No. 17, but Dantonio has every right to believe he can smell the roses later this year. His team lost linebackers Greg Jones and Eric Gordon but their replacements are on pace to exceed them. Chris Norman, Denicos Allen and Max Bullough all return for the Spartans and with a season playing with the likes of Jones and Gordon under their belts, they'll form a formidable corps.
William Gholston returns, healthy, to the front four along with Jerel Worthy, who has been ranked as one of the top defensive tackles in the country. Add in Tyler Hoover and Kevin Pickelman and the Spartans front four may be worthy of a nickname of their own. Rumors have defensive coordinator Pat Naduzzi shifting true-freshman Thomas to defensive tackle to play opposite of Gholston on the line, making for the toughest front four in the Big Ten.
QB Kirk Cousins returns for his final season and has most of his weapons from last season returning with him. Keshawn Martin, B.J. Cunningham and Keith Nichol all return to the receivers corps, along with Keith Mumphrey, who was red-shirted last season but displayed blazing speed.
Perhaps the most exciting area of the Michigan State offense are the running backs, all three starters return this season. Le'Veon Bell, Edwin Baker and Larry Caper bring back the "Full House Backfield" and look to continue their run over opposing defenses all season.
While it may seem a bold move to many; Dantonio calling for a trip to Pasadena in January, is closer than it has ever been for the Spartans.