Breaking down Michigan State’s football team prior to Saturday’s game against the Michigan Wolverines
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Previewing Michigan State With A Spartan Insider

Paul Konyndyk of SpartanMag.com was kind enough to swing by this week and break down Michigan State’s football team prior to its weekend showdown with the Michigan Wolverines at The Big House.

The analyst provided a preview of which MSU players fans should keep an eye on this Saturday, while also giving a final score prediction and a forecast of how he thinks the game will go.

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Michigan State Spartans running back Elijah Collins
Michigan State Spartans running back Elijah Collins ran for 27 yards on 12 carries last year against the Michigan Wolverines’ football team. (AP Images)
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Michigan State’s Projected Starters On Offense

• Redshirt junior QB Rocky Lombardi — Lost in the shuffle of Michigan State’s ugly 38-27 loss to Rutgers last week was the fact that Lombardi posted pretty solid passing numbers against the Scarlet Knights (excluding his two interceptions), completing 31 of 43 throws (72.1 percent) for 319 yards with three touchdowns. The criticism surrounding his week-one performance, however, stemmed from the fact he had several clear miscommunications with his receivers and that he turned the ball over three times.

• Redshirt junior RB Connor Heyward — He received the start last weekend against Rutgers, which Konyndyk admitted was a “bit of a surprise given that [redshirt sophomore Elijah] Collins finished 12 yards shy of 1,000 yards as a redshirt freshman.” Heyward tallied just 18 yards on seven carries against the Scarlet Knights, with Konyndyk revealing he wouldn’t be surprised to see freshman Jordon Simmons earn the starting nod here, after he “ran hard and showed a burst” last Saturday.

• Redshirt sophomore WR Jalen Nailor — He posted solid numbers in MSU’s loss last week, reeling in six receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown. Nailor’s 84 yards were a career best, though dampened a bit by the fact he was one of four offensive players to cough up at least one fumble.

• Redshirt sophomore WR Jayden Reed — He sat out last year after transferring in from Western Michigan, and made a bang in his MSU debut by reeling in 11 catches for 128 yards and two touchdowns. Ball security was a major issue for him against Rutgers, though, with the 6-0, 185-pounder losing two fumbles.

• Sophomore WR Tre Mosley — “Mosley left last weekend’s game with a leg injury and is listed as a day-to-day,” Konyndyk revealed, after the sophomore tallied one catch for 11 yards last weekend. If Mosley is unable to play, the analyst said freshman Ricky White will start in his place. White played 30 snaps and caught one pass for five yards in his collegiate debut.

• Senior TE Matt Dotson — He was MSU’s third-leading receiver last Saturday behind Reed and Nailor, compiling five receptions for 50 yards. Dotson shared reps with redshirt sophomore Trenton Gillison at the position, playing 52 snaps while the latter saw 33.

• Fifth-year senior LT A.J. Arcuri — According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), he was by far Michigan State’s best offensive player last week against Rutgers. The site awarded him an overall game grade of 76.6 (64 is considered average), which was 7.3 points higher than any other offensive Spartan received.

• Redshirt junior LG Blake Bueter — PFF tabbed him as Michigan State’s second-best pass blocker last weekend, giving him an impressive mark of 74.9 in that department. Despite earning the starting nod in the loss to Rutgers, Bueter split time at the position with sophomore J.D. Duplain, playing 48 snaps while the latter played 38.

• Fifth-year senior C Matt Allen — He entered 2020 as one of the team’s most experienced offensive linemen, having started 16 games over the past two years. Allen’s season debut against the Scarlet Knights did not go well, however, with his 53.9 mark from PFF checking in as the lowest of any of the seven Spartan offensive linemen who saw the field.

• Redshirt junior RG Matt Carrick — His 66.9 grade from PFF for last weekend’s performance was the fourth highest of the 21 MSU offensive players who saw game action against Rutgers. At 320 pounds, Carrick is tied as the second-heaviest offensive lineman on Michigan State’s roster.

• Redshirt junior RT Kevin Jarvis — His 2019 campaign was destroyed by injury, starting the team’s first three games before suffering a leg ailment against Arizona State Sept. 14 and missing the rest of the season. Jarvis is healthy once again and played all 86 snaps against the Scarlet Knights, residing as the heaviest offensive linemen on the Spartans’ roster at 325 pounds.

Michigan State’s Projected Starters On Defense

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