#Countdown2Kickoff #MSU #Spartans Down but not out

msu winsDespite winning its 3rd Big Ten title in 5 years, the Michigan State Spartans will not be remembered for its 5th 10+ win season but instead will be remembered for the goose egg it laid against the Alabama Crimson Tide, the eventual National Champion.  In one night the Spartans went from being on cusp of a national championship to now being dismissed all together. But Spartans HC Mark Dantonio would not have it any other way, the seismic chip on the Spartans shoulder has returned.

Although replacing the Spartans All-Americans trio of QB Connor Cook, LT Jack Conklin, lj scott vs iowaand WR Aaron Burbridge will be no easy task, there are talented unproven players anxiously waiting for their chance. The experience that fifth year senior QB Tyler O’Connor gained in beating the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Horseshoe last year was invaluable and it all but solidified his spot at the top of the depth chart. Although Conklin will certainly be missed, the depth of the o-line should have no problem opening up running lanes for LJ Scott, who may be the best running back in the Big Ten.

josiah price msuThe Spartans receivers may be inexperienced, but their talent is undeniable. Each year RJ Shelton’s production has increased and if talented redshirt freshman Darrell Stewart and early enrollee Donnie Corley are as impressive in games as they have been during practice the Spartans will be fine. Blessed with the strength to block, the speed to separate, and the size to win 50/50 balls TE Josiah Price is poised for a breakout season.

Since the Spartans secondary was decimated by injuries, it was no surprise that the defense was uncharacteristically average. But the secondary should improve with the return of Vayante Copeland from injury and with the continued development of Demetrious Cox and Montae Nicholson at safety the no fly zone may be back. Although msu dthere will be three new starters on the d-line, Malik McDowell may be the best defensive tackle in the nation.There may not be a better linebacker duo in the country than Riley Bullough and Ed Davis, they each possess both the speed to run sideline to sideline as well as the toughness to make guys think twice about hitting the whole and running across the middle.

malik mcdowellBesides one game, the Spartans had a season for the ages, and they may just do it again. The fellas in East Lansing have made a habit of proving folks wrong, why should 2016 be any different?  Although the Spartans may have been down after their last game, but with HC Dantonio at the helm, the Spartans are far from out. Doubt them if you dare. Stay tuned… I know I will? – A. Denmark

Anthony Denmark is a writer for eatdrnkslpsprtz.com. Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on GoogleListen to eatdrnkslpsprtz radio  Subscribe to podcast

Anthony Denmark is a writer for eatdrnkslpsprtz.com. Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on GoogleListen to eatdrnkslpsprtz radio  Subscribe to podcast




Road2Arlington: Michigan State Spartans, Big Ten Champions and Beyond?

you shall not passLast season the Michigan State Spartans led by a record setting defense was one of the hottest teams in the nation. The Spartans gave Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes their first lost in two years in route to a Big Ten Championship. And if that was not enough they out toughed and out muscled the bullies from the west the Stanford Cardinals to win their first Rose Bowl Championship since 1945. 2013 was truly a banner year for the Spartans but with expectations heightened what will they do for an encore?

The new kings of the Big Ten Conference must replace their two All Americans shilique calhounlinebacker Max Bullough and Thorpe winner Darqueze Dennard but the cupboard is far from bare. Two-time assistant coach of the year Pat Narduzzi continues to turn unheralded recruits into prime time play makers and former basketball player Shilique Calhoun is his latest discovery. Calhoun and his 8.5 sacks 16.5 career tackles for loss will be relied on to terrorize opposing quarterbacks as the newest members of the no fly zone Trae Waynes and company get their feet wet.

Unlike in years past the Spartans offensive cupboard is far from barren returning 8 starters on offense. Quarterback Connor Cook confidence grew in the latter part of the season displaying pinpoint accuracy and mobility to extend plays. Running back Jeremy Langford was a human pinball whose punishing style led to big runs in the fourth quarter. Tennessee transfer Deanthony Arnett joins a deep stable of ball-hawking big receivers led by senior Tony Lippett.

jeremy langford and ryan shazierExpectations in East Lansing could not be higher. In 2012 the Spartans were everyone’s darkhouse  BCS title contender but they finished 7-6. Is another disappointing encore on the horizon or is there another Big Ten Championship and a trip to the College Football Playoffs in Arlington to play for a National Championship in the cards? Stay tuned…I know I will.

Anthony Denmark is a writer for eatdrnkslpsprtz.com. Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on GoogleListen to eatdrnkslpsprtz radio  Subscribe to podcast

College basketball: Do I stay or do I go? The toughest decision of their careers

should i stay or should i goA National Champion has been crowned, a parade has been given in the Louisville Cardinals honor and several players have accomplished their life long dream of trending on twitter. But now underclassmen have two weeks to make the tough decision either to declare for the 2013 NBA Draft or return to school to improve their draft stock and take the Economics course that all students dread.

NBA benches are filled with can’t miss high school phenoms like New Orleans HornetsAustin Rivers New Orleans Hornets guard Austin Rivers, Houston Rockets forward Thomas Robinson, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Perry Jones III, and Phoenix Suns point guard Kendall Marshall who have failed to live up to their draft stock barely registering any significant minutes in the regular season. Each of the players mention would have been locks as First Team All-Americans and would have altered the college basketball landscape and we may have possibly had a different team celebrating winning a National Championship in Atlanta.

nerlens noel injuryHowever, this is the tough decision that awaits a number of talent NBA prospects: Do I declare while I am still considered a first round pick? Do return to school to improve my stock and risk scouts souring or worst risk injury?

For talented underclassmen NBA prospects like Missouri point guard Phil Pressey andlousiville cardinals russ smith Louisville guard Russ Smith there is little chance of them improving their draft stock and due their teams losing talent to graduation and since there is no growth spurt in sight for each of them they are unlikely to shake the hand of NBA Commissioner David Stern as first round selections whether they declare for the draft now or wait a year.

Indiana forward Cody Zeller returned for his sophomore year and he was projected to be a lock to be a top five pick got exposed throughout the season for being soft, frequently being out-muscled and bullied out of the point forced to settle for jump shots. Although Zeller is still a lock to be selected in the first round his plummeting draft stock made declaring this year a virtual certainty because returning he may have risked dropping out of the first round all together.trey burke michigan wolverines point guard

Returning to school also has its benefits, last season Michigan point guard Trey Burke was considered a borderline first round pick at best. But with another year of seasoning leading the Wolverines to the National Championship game and collecting Player of the Year awards along the way Burke is now a lock to be the first point guard selected in the NBA Draft.

miami hurricanes shane larkin

As promising prospects continue to weigh the pros and cons of this momentous decision the landscape of college basketball lays in the balance. A tough decision awaits  promising prospects: Miami guard Shane Larkin, Michigan State guard Gary Harris, Baylor forward Isaiah Austin, and Michigan’s talented trio guard Tim Hardaway Jr., forwards Mitch McCrary and Glenn Robinson III. Should they stay or should they go? Stay tuned… I know I will – A. Denmark

Anthony Denmark is a writer for eatdrnkslpsprtz.com. Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. Listen to eatdrnkslpsprtz radio Tues/Thurs 630 PM EST & Sat 1030 AM EST