Last week was a busy week for Michigan State football coach Jonathan Smith.
The recruiting trail was hot with the addition of Holy Cross offensive line transfer Luke Newman, picking up a new secondary coach in former Spartan football player Demetrice Martin who was formerly coaching at Oregon, and all of this while celebrating his 44th birthday on Jan. 18 which he spent talking to high school coaches at the MHFCA conference. What a football guy.
Smith also had a press conference updating everyone on rosters, transfers, and the recruiting trail.
Here are three important quotes coming from Smith during that press conference.
1. On the roster, depth, and schemes
"It feels like each day, each week, you get a better feel for the roster especially now getting around them in the weight room, working out. I feel like we've got some depth; some of the guys that did explore some options in the portal and chose to come back, especially at the line of scrimmage, defensive line, and O-Line... It's going to be an all-new scheme, offense, defense, and special teams."
The Jonathan Smith era is already off to a good start with all signs pointing to a head coach that likes being around the program. He's been extremely busy with recruiting and just getting settled into a new job overall that he could easily take this time off to reset and relax but not only is he working hard to get to know the new and veteran players, but he also hosted a video conference with over 200 former players, introducing himself and submersing himself in the Michigan State culture.
The most important thing that Smith needs to know is how this program was built under former head coach Mark Dantonio: hard work and the team being greater than the sum of its parts. Five-star recruits are great and make the margin of error that much bigger, but when Michigan State football is successful, it's a mix of mostly three and four-star recruits, even some walk-ons, but they know their role in the offense/defense and the team works as one to achieve the common goal. Smith already has the mindset with his "low ego, high output" mindset.
The second part of this quote should excite all Spartan fans. We have all complained about scheme for the better part of four years so when Smith says all-new scheme, it can't possibly be worse than what has been on the field in the past. The consensus was that the offensive and defensive schemes only worked if top-level talent existed at every position. Asking offensive linemen to make NFL-level blocks and hold them for an unfair amount of time resulted in a poor run game and quarterback pressures left and right. Asking two-star linebackers to cover wide receivers can and did result in touchdowns. A lot of them.
Smith and his staff were able to accomplish a lot of success without four and five-star recruits but the schemes they ran put these players in the best position to succeed. With an upgrade in facilities and recruiting tools, Smith should be able to get the perfect mix of talent and fit.