Tag Archives: Michigan State Spartans

Michigan State vs. Florida, 12-8-18: In-game report

Michigan State outlasted Florida on the hardwood in a sloppy game on Saturday.  Despite turning over the ball 15 times, MSU defeated Florida in Gainesville, 63-59, in the out of conference matchup.  DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson gives his impressions in this in-game report:

5 Cassius Winston (6’0 185) Michigan State PG-Junior

Winston is in his third season as the starting point guard for the Spartans.  The junior has been asked to shoulder the scoring load left behind by NBA first round draft picks Miles Bridges and Jaren Jackson.  Against the Gators, Winston finished with 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting, six assists and two turnovers.  The Spartans currently lack a backup point guard, which has forced Winston into heavy minutes. The junior point guard is averaging 31 minutes per game this season and played 36 minutes against Florida. 

“Cassius is the guy I'm worried about because we're kind of playing him into the ground right now, so he was tired,” Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said in advance of the matchup with Florida.  “I mean, him and Josh (Langford) have played a lot of minutes.”

It will be interesting to see how Izzo manages the minutes of Winston as the young season continues on. 

44 Nick Ward (6’8 245) Michigan State center-Junior 

Nick Ward is also in his junior season and -like Winston- is being asked to do more.  The center decided to rescind his name from 2018 NBA Draft consideration and returned to East Lansing this past offseason. F oul trouble and conditioning have been a problem for Ward in the past but this season, he looks quicker and has done a better job of moving his feet defensively, especially on ball screens. Against Florida, Ward finished with 13 points and five rebounds.  On the season, he is averaging 15 points and five rebounds per game on 21 minutes of action.  The junior could garner NBA consideration as a second round draft pick because of his long arms (7’2” wingspan) and efficiency around the basket (64-percent field goal percentage). 

11 Keyontae Johnson (6’5 225) Florida SF-Freshman 

Oak Hill Academy (Virginia) has produced top NBA talent in the past and names like Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo and Brandon Jennings come to mind.  Keyontae Johnson could be the next in line.  The Norfolk, Virginia, native is still trying to find his comfort zone on offense but the physical tools are there. Johnson is averaging six points and four rebounds per game during his 17 minutes of play. At 6’5”, 225, Johnson has good size for an NBA wing and despite his low scoring output, he has been efficient, shooting 53 percent from the field.   The freshman won’t be a one-and-done, but this time next season look for Johnson to surface on the radars of NBA teams. 

5 KeVaughn Allen (6’2 193) Florida  PG-Senior

Allen is the experienced leader of the Gators.  The four-year starter is a scoring machine, who can handle the ball but will be better served as a shooting guard at the next level.  The senior finished 13 points on 5-of-15 shooting against the Spartans but he also had three turnovers.  Allen is undersized for the shooting guard position and his ability to create for others is lacking. Look for the Gators point guard to spend some time in the G League or overseas after he leaves Florida. 

2018 Season Preview: Ohio State Buckeyes

Season outlook

As fall camp kicks off, Ohio State will have to navigate life without Urban Meyer, who is currently on administrative leave.  Not only will they have to make up for Meyer's absence, but also the departures of numerous NFL draft picks.  However, if anyone is equipped to handle change it's the Ohio State Buckeyes, who will have talent across the board.  Sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins (6'3, 220) was impressive in spot duty last year and will take over at quarterback for J.T. Barrett.  The sophomore quarterback completed six of his seven passes against Michigan and for the season threw four touchdowns against just one interception.  Haskins can rely on sophomore running back J.K. Dobbins (5'10, 214) and sophomore tight end Luke Farrell (6'6, 250) to take some of the pressure off of his shoulders.  On defense, the Buckeyes will control the trenches with junior defensive linemen Nick Bosa and Dre'mont Jones (6'3 286).  The Buckeyes have all the talent in the world and should once again be in the running for a College Football Playoff appearance.

Troy's player to watch

97 Nick Bosa 6'4 263 DE-Junior
Bosa comes from NFL genes but he is an NFL-caliber player in his own right.  He was named the conference's lineman of the year and led the Buckeyes with eight sacks and 16 tackles for loss in 2017. The junior defensive lineman has the tools to be a top five draft pick and if he turns in another stellar season, look for him to enter the NFL Draft after his junior season.

Game of the season

September 29th at Penn State
The Buckeyes squeaked past the Nittany Lions last year, 39-38, in Columbus. This year's renewal of the rivalry could be just as close a contest.  The last two years the battle has had major conference and bowl game implications, and this year it has the makings to be the same.  Look for Ohio State to play one of their most competitive games of the season on September 29th in Happy Valley.

DraftNasty's Prospect Watch

83 Terry McLaurin 6'1 205 WR-Senior
The last time a wide receiver stood out wearing No. 83 at Ohio State was the late Terry Glenn, one of the best players in school history.  Despite catching just 29 passes in 2017, McLaurin -a 4.4 speedster- put six of those receptions in the end zone.  Dating back to his freshman campaign, he has also shown up on special teams (7 tackles in 2015).  While his speed is a factor, he has to demonstrate more of an ability running the route tree to get looks from NFL scouts as an outside the numbers threat.  He's actually shown an ability to work the sidelines and settle into soft zones versus zone coverage.  His strength and balance are perhaps his most impressive attributes.  McLaurin will test well for NFL scouts.

Prediction:  12-0

Even with some uncertainty at head coach, Draftnasty's Troy Jefferson is predicting an undefeated regular season and another appearance in the College Football Playoff for the Buckeyes. Contests against Penn State and Michigan State on the road could be problematic, but the Buckeyes have the personnel to beat everyone in the Big Ten. 

2018 Season Preview: Northwestern Wildcats

Season outlook

Pat Fitzgerald's team has won 27 games over the past three seasons but his Wildcats haven't been able to make an appearance in the Big Ten Championship game.  Once again, division foes Iowa and Wisconsin will field strong teams and offer Northwestern tough competition.  Senior quarterback Clayton Thorson (6'4, 225) has started every game over the last three seasons and is on the watchlist for the Maxwell Award.  The biggest key for Thorson will be how he recovers from a serious injury suffered in the 2017 Music City Bowl.  With the departure of Justin Jackson,  sophomore running back Jeremy Larkin (5'10, 194) will take over the duties of carrying the rock.  On defense, the Wildcats have playmakers at every level.  Senior cornerback Montre Hartage leads the charge on the back end, junior defensive end Joe Gaziano (6'4, 280) sets the edge and sophomore linebacker Paddy Fisher (6'4, 245) mans the second level of the defense.

Troy's player to watch

24 Montre Hartage 6'0 190 CB-Senior
 

Hartage has started 26 straight games at cornerback and has worked himself into somewhat of a shutdown corner. The senior has eight career interceptions and will enter 2018 as the best defensive back on the roster.  The Wildcats return three potential All-Conference players in its front seven, which should alleviate some of the responsibilities on the back end for Hartage. Look for the cornerback to have another strong season, if opposing quarterbacks choose to throw his way. 

Game of the season

October 6th at Michigan State
Northwestern has defeated the Spartans in consecutive years.  Last year's contest was a game to remember,  as the Wildcats bested the Spartans in a triple overtime 39-31 thriller in Evanston.  This year, the Wildcats will have to travel to East Lansing to face a Michigan State team that returns a number of starters.  If the Wildcats want to put the Big Ten on notice as a contender in the West division, a win against the Spartans will go a long way.

DraftNasty's Prospect Watch

32 Nate Hall 6’2 230 LB-Senior

Hall finished 2017 with 79 tackles, six quarterback sacks, 16.5 tackles for losses, two interceptions and six pass break-ups.

Hall throws his body around and reacts quickly versus blockers.  Perhaps more importantly, he can react instinctively versus the passing game.  The weakness for him revolves around his man-to-man coverage skill.  His pursuit angles can be hit-or-miss in pursuit.  With all of that said, his ability to rush the passer and make plays in zone coverage provides a unique combination for the Wildcats.  If he can drop his pad level with more consistency, look for Hall to take the next step as a prospect.

Prediction:  8-4

Northwestern will start the season 4-0 but will stumble across the finish line, according to Draftnasty's Troy Jefferson. The Wildcats will lose on the road against Michigan State and Iowa and at home against Wisconsin and Notre Dame. 

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2018 Season Preview: Nebraska Cornhuskers

 Season outlook 

Scott Frost will attempt to complete his second redemption story in as many seasons.  Last year, Frost led UCF to a 13-0 record and a bowl game victory against Auburn following a 6-7 season in 2016.  The former Cornhuskers quarterback will guide a Nebraska squad which finished 4-8 in 2017.  The Cornhuskers aren't as talented as they were in the eighties, but they do have a few skill position players to rely on in Frost's spread offense. Junior running back Tre Bryant (5'11, 201) and senior wide receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. (6'1, 201) will be counted on to serve as gamechangers.  Bryant returns to the Cornhuskers after missing 10 games last season with a knee injury.  However, in just two games of action, Bryant totaled 299 rushing yards and two touchdowns against Oregon and Arkansas State.  Defensively, sophomore defensive lineman Ben Stille (6'5, 290) will be counted on to stuff the run and rush the passer after making an impact in his freshman season. Stille finished with 3.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss in 2017. Frost doesn't have the talent that he had last year at UCF and the Cornhuskers face a tough schedule, but the new head coach does have enough pieces to lay the foundation for the future. 

Troy's player to watch

8 Stanley Morgan, Jr.  6'1 200 WR-Senior
Morgan, Jr. enjoyed a breakout season in 2017, posting 986 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns.  The senior wide receiver recorded 259 yards against Penn State and Iowa, two of the best pass defenses in the Big Ten, to end the season.  Morgan, Jr. is able to make catches in traffic, reminiscent of Odell Beckham Jr., another New Orleans native.  He has the size and speed that will make him a candidate to go in the first three rounds of the draft after the season.

Game of the season

September 15 against Troy
The Troy Trojans are coming off an 11-2 season and a 7-1 conference record in the Sun Belt. Scott Frost will have to navigate an early non-conference slip-up against the Trojans, who will be prepared for FBS competition. In Week 1, Troy will play Boise State.  Don't expect the Trojans to come into Lincoln wide-eyed, and this Week 3 matchup should provide a close contest for the Cornhuskers.

DraftNasty's Prospect Watch

24 Aaron Williams 5'11 195 DB-Senior

Williams has shown an ability to come under control to make inside-out sideline tackles.  He has also shown requisite skill when it comes

Williams has notched five interceptions and one touchdown during his three-year stint in Lincoln.

to filling on as an eighth man in the box.  His overall thump as a tackler is just adequate and some of this has to do with average size.  For him to get looks from NFL scouts next spring, he has to improve in coverage.  Quicker wide receivers have given him problems in man-to-man coverage.

Prediction: 4-8

Draftnasty's Troy Jefferson is projecting a tough season for Scott Frost in Year 1. The Cornhuskers may be improved on the field from last year but the schedule doesn't do Nebraska any favors. Jefferson is predicting losses against Troy, Michigan, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Minnesota, Ohio State, Michigan State and Iowa.

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2018 Season Preview: Michigan State Spartans

Season outlook

The Michigan State Spartans turned in an impressive bounce back season in 2017.  Mark Dantonio's crew finished the season 10-3 after going 3-9 the previous season.  With 19 starters returning from last year's team, the Spartans could have an outside chance of sneaking into the College Football Playoff.  They take on Utah State, Arizona State and Central Michigan in non-conference play and will take on Big Ten rivals Michigan and Ohio State at Spartan Stadium. Sandwiched in between the non-conference schedule are match-ups against the Wolverines and Buckeyes and a road contest versus Penn State.  A good barometer for the Spartans in their 10-plus win seasons has been their ability to stop the run and run the ball.  Last season, Michigan State finished seventh in the nation in  yards allowed per game and averaged 167 rushing yards per game (63rd overall).  Running back L.J. Scott (6'1, 229) enters  his senior season as the team's feature back and alongside quarterback Brian Lewerke (6'3, 212, Jr.), he will be tasked with carrying the offensive load. On defense, defensive tackle Raequan Williams (6'4, 300, Jr.) will be a run-stuffer.  With a strong season, he could join other former Spartans defensive linemen William Gholston (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Shilique Calhoun (Oakland Raiders)  in the NFL.

Troy's player to watch 

Joe Bachie 6'2 233 LB-Junior
The junior was a stabilizing force for the Spartans defense after they lost LB Riley Bullough to the NFL in 2017.  Bachie finished last season with 3.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and three interceptions. Since Dantonio has come to Michigan State, he has been able to hang his hat on a middle linebacker to run the defense. If Bachie can turn in another productive season, he will join the ranks of Max Bullough, Riley Bullough and Darien Harris, all of whom have spent time in the NFL.

Game of the season

November 10th  vs. Ohio State
As usual, the Buckeyes will field a team as competitive as anyone in the nation. If anyone has been able to compete with Urban Meyer's Buckeyes it's been Mark Dantonio. The Spartans coach holds a 2-4 record vs. Ohio State and is the only coach to beat Meyer in the Big Ten multiple times. In last year's matchup, the Spartans lost to the Buckeyes, 48-3, in Columbus.

DraftNasty's Prospect Watch:

Khari Willis 6'0 215 S-Senior

The Spartans have several senior prospects worth keeping an eye on in 2017.  Perhaps none can help their NFL hopes more than Willis.  Despite 2017 being his first year as a full-time starter, the former high school running back has blossomed into one of the Big Ten's most active safeties.  While he will occasionally overrun some tackles due to over-aggressiveness, he generally breaks hard on the ball in pursuit from the inside-out.  On top of that, he demonstrated a sufficient ability to open-and-run with wide receivers when defending vertical concepts a season ago (see Western Michigan '17).  He's had some slight durabilty hiccups, but the 2017 Honorable mention All-Big Ten safety is primed for an impact senior campaign.

Prediction: 11-1

 
The Spartans will run through the early part of their schedule with flying colors but Draftnasty's Troy Jefferson is predicting a home loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes in November, reminiscent of their 2014 season.
--By: Troy Jefferson, DraftNasty Staff reports