The case for DB Dillon Tatum
Much like Tyrell Henry, Tatum received playing time on special teams last week. Additionally, the injury to Xavier Henderson has created an opening on both gameday as well as during this last week of practice. With Tatum receiving more repetitions in practice as well as earning a special teams spot last week, he could very well receive playing time this week, and not just if the game is out of hand.
Additionally, quite a few Spartan defensive backs have been on limited reps or were out of Friday night’s game for a few plays due to injuries and cramps. Against Akron, the Spartans may elect for longer rests depending on the score.
Going from special teams to defensive back playing time has been seen before with Mel Tucker, as Justin White can attest. White started last season as a special teams ace and started receiving more playing time as the season went on, culminating in a punishing quarterback pressure and hit against Michigan and an interception against Ohio State.
I would not be surprised to see Tatum follow this model and see the field extensively this week. The staff may also elect to rotate through their defensive backs throughout the game. If Henderson is not ready for Washington, why not have three or four players ready to step up?
The case against Tatum
Much like the situation for Katin Houser, the coaching staff can elect to spend this game giving more playing time and experience to Kendell Brooks and fellow freshman Jaden Mangham. Mangham receiving playing time in front of Tatum is a clear indication of where the freshmen depth stands currently. As the season continues, I would expect to see more of Tatum. This week may be too early or bad timing due to the Henderson injury. We will find out together on Saturday.