EAST LANSING - Three of Michigan State's offensive linemen from the opening day of the season are not expected to play this weekend against Central Michigan.Offensive line depth:
Spartan head coach Mark Dantonio said Tuesday that center Blake Treadwell suffered an MCL (knee) injury during Saturday's loss at Notre Dame and could be out at least a week. This is in addition to right tackle Skyler Burkland being lost for three months to an ankle injury sustained at Notre Dame.
Dantonio also confirmed that senior offensive tackle Jared McGaha is out at least another week with an MCL injury, which he sustained last week in practice. Dantonio said McGaha, who began the season as the starting left tackle, probably will not be ready for action again until the Michigan game on Oct. 15. McGaha had fallen to second string at right tackle after the season opener against Youngstown State.
Michigan State will likely start redshirt freshman Travis Jackson at center. Jackson (6-3, 275, New Albany, Ohio) was ahead of Treadwell in the competition for the starting center job through the last half of spring practice and most of August camp, before sustaining a lower body injury in the final scrimmage of the preseason.
Jackson missed at least two weeks of practice, but was back in pads last week, and traveled to Notre Dame. But Jackson has yet to see playing time in a college game.
Dantonio backed off from his usual policy of not commenting on injuries.
"I think I need to just come out and say what's going on so that everybody's got a good, clear assessment of our offensive line picture," Dantonio said.
On Treadwell: "Blake Treadwell had an MCL sprain, so he is out this week as well. It remains to be seen how soon he will be back, whether that's one week, two weeks or the Michigan game. So we are going to miss those two guys and obviously Skyler."
On McGaha: "Jared was injured last week, where a guy was diving for a loose ball. He has an MCL. He probably should (be able to play) by the Michigan game. We will probably miss him next week (at Ohio State), get healthy enough to practice during the bye week and then we should have him for the Michigan game. But I would not anticipate having him next week."
'We Need To Pound The Ball'
MSU is expected to start an offensive line consisting of sophomore left tackle Dan France, senior left guard Joel Foreman, redshirt freshman center Travis Jackson junior right guard Chris McDonald and junior Fou Fonoti, a junior college transfer, at right tackle.
Fonoti played more than half of the Notre Dame game at right tackle after Burkland went down in the second quarter.
Fonoti played in the first two games of the season, but his extended action at Notre Dame clearly marked his best performance of the season. He was good in pass protection, against edge rushes and stunts, and was solid in zone blocking. There did not seem to be much of a dropoff from Burkland to Fonoti this week, whereas there was a big dropoff when he played left tackle and right tackle in the first two games.
"I thought Fonoti played well against Notre Dame," Dantonio said. "He has game experience and he is a very, very good athlete.
"Travis Jackson is back. Travis is a very good player."
"So we have a young offensive line. You can look at it and say we are going to get stronger through adverse times, which is the way we are going to look at it.
"But when you compound this with Zach Hueter being DQ'd and David Barrent being DQ'd in the summer, we're down some offensive linemen, quality offensive linemen. But we will still maintain that we expect to succeed. There are no alibis, is what I'm saying.
"So we will shore up the offensive line. The message here is regardless of what happens and who is playing, we have guys on scholarship and we have guys that can coach and we need to pound the ball. Like we've said in the past: pound green pound. We need to run this football and we're going to do that."
'There Are No Alibis'
Dantonio dismissed the possibility that Michigan State might change its offensive style and de-emphasize the power running attack.
"No, we won't change our philosophy," he said. "We have too good of running backs. We have to get the ball in the running backs' hands, because they are too good of players. If we had average running backs, we would change our thinking, I think. But we have to put the ball in those guys' hands some kind of way, because they can make plays for us. We have good tight ends, we have a very good fullback. I think Todd Anderson has been a very positive addition to our offense because he is a 265-pound fullback who can hammer it in there and he can dent some defenses with his blocking.
"So we have to use our tight ends, our fullbacks, our offensive line and our wide receivers and our running backs to create these running situations. Quite frankly, because of the fourth quarter being what it was last week, it had to turn into a pure passing game just because of the time restraints we had on us in the fourth quarter. But I think all of us would have liked to have seen us run the ball a little bit more in the game, but the score of the game dictates how you play sometimes."
Reynolds New No. 2 LT
In the wake of the injuries, Michigan State moved sophomore Micajah Reynolds from defensive line to offensive line on Monday. He makes a noteworthy debut on the depth chart, listed as the No. 2 left tackle, behind France.
"He is in his third year of football and he is a guy that has played over there (on offensive line)," Dantonio said.
Reynolds (6-5, 320, Soph., Lansing Sexton) was a second-string left guard last season, and saw time in mop up duty in four games. He often looked athletic and explosive on pulls.
Reynolds redshirted on o-line in 2009, began the spring of 2010 on defense, but finished that spring on offense and spent last season on offense.
He returned to defense last spring. Now he's back on offense.
Despite the frequent moves, coaches on both sides of the ball believe he will be a key contributor in the future. The moves are not a sign of middling potential. Dantonio believes he can be a player.
"He is another guy that is benching over 400 pounds and runs about a 5.1 and a half, so he is a good athlete and he'll be another guy that we look for," Dantonio said.
Notes and Quotes
"We have got numbers in the offensive line. That is one thing that we have been able to do here in four years. We have guys on scholarship. We are not sitting here going into fall camp with nine guys on scholarship, like some people are. We lose three offensive linemen in three or four days time, but you deal with it. You deal with adversity, you deal with the problems that you have. You try to fix them, and you get it right and you keep marching and you move on. But you stay the course.
"You have Nate Klatt, Ethan Ruhland and John Deyo in there. So we have pieces, guys that have been coached. We have 10 solid players yet, and still put five guys on the scout team, which is also important. So fortunately we have numbers on our offensive line."
True freshman Jack Allen is likely to be mobilized as an option as a second-string center while Treadwell is out. MSU will try to preserve Allen's redshirt status, but he needs to be part of the two-deep in case something happens to Jackson.
"(Center) Jack Allen is a guy that will travel for us," Dantonio said. "Jack is a guy that I think has a very, very bright future. The only other freshman offensive lineman we signed was Donavon Clark and I think he is a ways away from a knowledge standpoint. You never say never, but I don't think right now is the time to make that decision. I don't see that."
Ruhland was a second-string center last year, and saw spot duty in games. Klatt has practiced at center in the past, and came to MSU as a high school center.
As for reserve tackles, Dantonio said: "Mike Dennis is a guy who has had one year of coaching. Henry Conway is a guy that has gotten better and better every week. Now remember he didn't play football for a year and a half. He's 6-7, 315 pounds, tough. So he is a guy that has to get active in there."
Conway is listed as the No. 2 right tackle. He saw action at the end of the first two games.
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