Michigan State Football Mailbag: Which Spartans will break out in October?

EVANSTON, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 21: Anthony Williams Jr. #34 of the Michigan State Spartans breaks away from Alex Miller #95 of the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field on September 21, 2019 in Evanston, Illinois. Michigan State defeated Northwestern 31-10. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
EVANSTON, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 21: Anthony Williams Jr. #34 of the Michigan State Spartans breaks away from Alex Miller #95 of the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field on September 21, 2019 in Evanston, Illinois. Michigan State defeated Northwestern 31-10. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Michigan State football fans are gearing up for a critical month of October as the Spartans face three top-15 teams. The mailbag filled up quickly.

Following a close win over Indiana and before a big game at Ohio State, there have been many questions arising from the fanbase.

Let’s dive into this week’s mailbag, shall we?

First of all, love the honesty from a Michigan fan, but let me try to help you out with this one. On the road at Ohio State in a primetime game, I would say that Michigan State would be lucky to score two touchdowns, but I truly think the Spartans play up to the Buckeyes when they’re given zero chance to win (see 2015, 2016, 2018). What offense will show up? I think you’ll see a team that is able to move the ball early, then stalls a little in the second quarter before scoring a little more in the second half. I say Michigan State scored 17-20 in this one while the Buckeyes are somewhere around 27-35.

Brian Lewerke remembers what happened in 2017 and I don’t think he’s going to allow that to happen again.

I wish I had a solid answer for this, but since he’s still not on the depth chart, I’m not optimistic about a return in the next couple of weeks. I’d say he’s back by the end of October, so he could play against Penn State, but there doesn’t seem to be a timetable right now. The offensive line clearly misses him.

The backup right now would likely be La’Darius Jefferson, based on workload. While Anthony Williams might have a higher upside, the staff likes Jefferson in those short-yardage situations. If they want someone who can be a first and second-down back to give Elijah Collins a breather, that might be Williams, but for now, I see Jefferson getting more of the No. 2 back workload. That could change as the season progresses. And yes, Jefferson is more specialized right now as a short-yardage back.

This is a good question and one that’s always fun to think about. I think a breakout candidate we will see emerge on the offensive side of the ball will be Julian Barnett. The receiving corps need a little boost outside of the usual suspects and Barnett is a kid who has all the talent in the world and will have his redshirt burned. Why not let him loose?

On defense, I believe someone like Chase Kline or Jeslord Boateng will step up. The loss of Brandon Bouyer-Randle has opened the door for some younger guys, so I’ll give the nod to either of those underclassman linebackers.

Better defense? It’s tough to say since both are as elite as they come in college football. Right now, I’d give the nod to Wisconsin just because the Badgers made Michigan look like a MAC team. They’re probably as close as it gets in terms of defenses, but Ohio State is no joke either. The depth on the Buckeyes’ defense is better, but the way Jim Leonhard runs a defense is a beautiful thing.

I would have loved to see more of Connor Heyward in passing down situations. He may not have been a natural running back with his size, but he had great hands out of the backfield and was a solid blocker. He would have been a great weapon in the passing game. Outside of that, he may have been decent in the slot or even as a linebacker. I would have liked to see him on offense, so a slot-type of receiver would have been ideal so he could match up with linebackers.

Mark Dantonio is so deep into his career and he believes that what he’s done has worked so I don’t see him changing anything regarding recruiting or the roster. Maybe after the fourth game each season, he’ll have one-on-one conversations with his players or a team meeting to see where everyone’s head is at so no one stews in anger because of playing time. There’s really nothing he can do about the portal because it’s becoming such a prominent aspect of college football. This is the way things are going to happen now because of the new redshirt rule and the portal mixing together as the perfect storm.

I think you might see a mix. I do believe that the staff will take more chances strictly because no one expects this to be a game and they have nothing to lose, but they also don’t want to get behind early and play catch-up all game. If you see the Spartans trailing by 7-14 early on, expect the staff to open the playbook more and even draw up a fake field goal or punt. If the Spartans have a lead, expect a much more reserved approach. It all depends on the situation, but I think we will see both on Saturday.

This is a good question. The defense is loaded so let’s just look at a few guys who could hear their names called this year first. You have Kenny Willekes, Raequan Williams and Joe Bachie who could all be early-round selections. Then there’s David Dowell and potentially even Josiah Scott (if he decides to leave early) who could sneak in the later rounds. Mike Panasiuk would also be worth a look if you’re an NFL team looking for a big-bodied interior lineman.

In future draft classes, I could see Antjuan Simmons, Kalon Gervin, Naquan Jones, Jacub Pansiuk and Xavier Henderson all playing on Sundays. It’s hard to say with the guys who haven’t seen the field much yet, but there will be more NFL prospects who we haven’t even seen yet.

Most Michigan State fans will tell you that they want Michigan to lose every game but there are some who want the Wolverines to win up until the State game. Sure, I want the game to be as big as possible, but you’ll never see me root for my rival. Social media these days has made losing unbearable and that’s a big reason why it’s rare to cheer for a rival. Long story short, no I never root for Michigan unless it helps Michigan State’s Big Ten title chances.

Next. MSU Football: 5 bold predictions for October. dark

Check back in next week for our latest mailbag and have your questions answered.