Michigan State Position Preview: Offensive Line
Michigan State‘s offensive line struggled with injuries and overall performance last season. This year, with increased experience and the hiring of co-offensive coordinator Jim Bollman, who has coached 27 offensive lineman who went on to play in the NFL, the unit should be much improved.
The Spartans bring back seven lineman with starting experience, not including Skylar Burkland, who it was reported will retire from football due to injuries, though head coach Mark Dantonio has stated that those reports are premature. They lose long time starter Chris McDonald, but welcome back Fou Fonoti, who played in only two games last season before going down with a foot injury.
At tackle, there will be some shuffling as Burkland was expected to man the right tackle position. Because of his uncertainty, Dan France, Michigan State’s starting left tackle the past two seasons, may shift back outside after spending the spring at guard. Another possibility could be redshirt freshman Jack Conklin, who the coaching staff and teammates have raved about following spring practice. At left tackle, the senior Fonoti will solidify the blind side.
The make up of the interior positions will depend on what happens at right tackle, but regardless of what happens there, senior Blake Treadwell will start at one guard position. At center, junior Travis Jackson returns from knee and leg injuries suffered last season against Ohio State. Jackson has started 15 games in his career at center. If France does indeed move to tackle, then redshirt freshman Jack Allen will get the nod at the other guard spot. Allen is a versatile lineman who started seven games at center and five at left guard in 2012 earning Freshman All-American and Big Ten All-Freshman Team honors. Providing further depth along the offensive line will be sophomore Donovan Clark.
A lot depends on the future of Burkland, but even without him the Spartans have a lot of experience along the line and will hope that it translates into success on the field. Michigan State will be breaking in a new running back and will lean on the offensive line to open up holes and protect quarterback Andrew Maxwell.