Posts tagged Bennie Fowler
Posts tagged Bennie Fowler
Late in the second quarter of No. 13 Michigan State’s clash with Northwestern, wide receiver Bennie Fowler made an incredible catch off the back of a Northwestern defender for an 87-yard touchdown.
Coach: Pat Narduzzi (defensive coordinator)
Seniors: Denicos Allen (LB), Max Bullough (LB), Henry Conway (OT), Darqueze Dennard (CB), Bennie Fowler (WR), Dan France (OL), Derek Hoebing (OT), Tyler Hoover (DT) and Jairus Jones (LB/S).
First Picks: Trae Waynes (CB), Riley Bullough (RB), Kurtis Drummond (S), Lawrence Thomas (DT), Trevon Pendleton (FB), Kevin Cronin (K), and Connor Cook (QB).
Coach: Dave Warner (co-offensive coordinator)
Seniors: Denzel Drone (DE), Kyler Elsworth (LB), Danny Folino (LB), Fou Fonoti (OT), Isaiah Lewis (S), Andrew Maxwell (QB), Kevin Muma (K), Micajah Reynolds (DL) and Blake Treadwell (OG).
First Picks: Travis Jackson (C), Shilique Calhoun (DE), Jack Conklin (OT), Keith Mumphery (WR), Taiwan Jones (LB), and Andrew Gleichert (TE).
I’m seriously crossing my fingers that returning wide outs Bennie Fowler, Keith Mumphery, Tony Lippett, and Aaron Burbridge can get it done this upcoming season. ESPECIALLY since we won’t have Le’Veon Bell (RB) as the star offensive player anymore.
Five years ago, Keshawn Martin was a teenager, a Lions fan and a long-overlooked receiver prospect who was finally starting to get some notice from major colleges.
"I was in high school, playing basketball, going to class," said Martin, a 2008 graduate of Westland Glenn. "And now I’m in the NFL."
And he’s not just in it, he’s making moves. The former Michigan State standout and Houston Texans rookie is coming off his first NFL touchdown — and a punt return that could have been his second — entering today’s Thanksgiving game at Ford Field.
"He’s been coming on," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said of Martin. "I think it’s something we’ve been seeing in practice. Those rookies hit a wall (in) Week 7 or 8. It’s a lot of football. After the bye, I’ve seen him come back a little fresher. He’s practiced well and makes a big play in the game (Sunday).”
Martin caught a 9-yard touchdown pass in a 43-37 overtime win over Jacksonville and took a punt back 71 yards before he was run down by the punter.
His friends in East Lansing were excited for him. They also took the opportunity to rib him, of course.
"He got caught by that punter, so there’s a lot of jokes that have been tweeted his way," MSU receivers coach Terry Samuel said.
MSU sophomore receiver Tony Lippett, one of Martin’s closest friends remaining on the team, had to call Martin and give him some guff for an awkward spike after his touchdown catch.
"I was like, ‘That was terrible,’ " Lippett said.
Martin figures to get the chance to outrun more punters and improve his end-zone celebrations. His role with the Texans is increasing now that he’s returning punts and kickoffs.
At MSU, Martin had two punt returns for touchdowns and one kick return for a touchdown. That was a big part of his appeal when the Texans picked him in the fourth round in April.
And his departure clearly has been part of the reason for MSU’s offensive struggles in 2012. In Martin and B.J. Cunningham, the Spartans had four-year playmakers.
"I see the progress," Samuel said of his receivers this season. "But still, we’ve got a long way to go. You appreciate what Keshawn and B.J. were at the end of their career. They made a lot of plays."
Martin has been able to watch every MSU game this season and has been just as dismayed as the Spartans and their fans.
"It’s been tough,” he said. “The games we lost have been close games. We just couldn’t finish those close games off. Next year I feel we’ll have a way better season.”
And a major area of growth, he said, should be the receiving corps. He talks to friends such as Lippett and Bennie Fowler and reminds them of how far he came in his MSU career.
"He just told me to just go out there and play freely," Lippett said. "Watch film and know the defense (but) basically go out there and have fun. Play like you were playing in high school, stuff like that. Don’t be afraid to make the play."
As a true freshman in 2008, Martin made plays despite knowing little about running routes. Like Lippett, he was a high school quarterback.
A year earlier, Martin got fall offers from MSU and Illinois, with Michigan making a late push. He didn’t attend camps like most prospects and managed to stay mostly off the grid until coaches started watching his senior film.
And now he’s a pro, set to play today in front of a large group of family and friends against the team he grew up supporting.
"I was," Martin said, admitting his Lions fandom. "That’s the home team. You’ve got to have a little love for the home team."
As always, the defense looked good. The 7 points were given up only after a fumble deep in our own territory. Otherwise there was pressure, and coverage was good for most of the day. Less than 200 yards were allowed.
But keep in mind this is Eastern Michigan University.
The offense looked like its usual inept self in the first half. Many dropped passes. Maxwell was off-target a couple times. Bell didn’t even get into the endzone till the fourth quarter. The second half the offense actually looked like they were in sync for once. A solid formula for success seems to be Bell + Sims. Sims had 112 yards and a TD. Le’Veon Bell had over 250 yards in a HUGE day, and the offensive line looked much more cohesive giving Maxwell time on many plays. Dan Conroy made 3 FGs.
Conroy missed his first FG attempt.
Nick Hill fumbled a punt (luckily Kurtis Drummond was there to pick it up).
Saw dropped passes by Fowler and Mumphery.
Fowler caught a pass, then dropped it for a fumbled that directly led to EMU’s lone score.
Dion Sims can catch the ball.
Stretched the field laterally a little with an end-around to Mumphery and stretch plays to Le’Veon. So a little more variety to the offense.
There was a pass rush, and a sack from Denicos Allen today.
Defense forced a fumble.
Stat of the day:
MSU punted only ONCE in the second half…the other drives led to touchdowns or field goals, or the ending of the game.
" A solid formula for success seems to be Bell + Sims." HOW HASN’T ANYONE FIGURED THIS OUT YET? I knew this would be the case before the season even started. Clearly our WRs can’t make catches, so stop throwing to them. It’s really that simple.
On top of that I noticed a lot of the WRs and Nick Hill are looking for a running lane or trying to run BEFORE they actually catch the ball. That NEEDS to be addressed.
I guess my question from earlier today has been answered.
EAST LANSING – Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said farewell to his players Thursday, sending them away for two days of relaxation after a morning that saw a half scrimmage, the final running test of preseason camp – everyone passed – and the choosing of captains for the 2012 season.
When the Spartans return at 4:30 p.m. Sunday to begin preparation for an intriguing Aug. 31 opener at Spartan Stadium against Boise State, they’ll be following senior linebacker Chris Norman, junior linebacker Max Bullough and junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell.
“It’s humbling,” Bullough said after the players voted. “It’s very humbling from a group of guys you share everything with. You sweat together, you bleed together.”
All three are first-year captains, replacing 2011 senior captains Kirk Cousins, Trenton Robinson and Joel Foreman. As MSU has done the past two seasons, it will choose a fourth player each week to serve as a game captain.
And that’s the message Maxwell delivered to his teammates after he learned of the vote.
“Look, this thing doesn’t work if it’s just us three leading,” he said.
But these three were the logical candidates. Maxwell is taking over at the most important position, Bullough is essentially the quarterback of the defense and Norman is a vocal senior who has battled through several health setbacks in his career.
“He brings that maturity, and having gone through some injuries and being able to bounce back,” Dantonio said of Norman. “So he brings that senior leadership to it. He had a great summer camp. I think Andrew Maxwell brings a certain amount of calmness to him and efficiency. And collectiveness.
“And I think Max Bullough brings a fierce warrior attitude to our football team. Not that the others don’t but I think that’s how he responds, the aspect of not being intimidated by anything.”
Norman agreed that his adversity faced has helped him become a leader. He called Bullough “a tenacious guy, a natural-born leader” and said Maxwell got the nod because he is “a stand-up guy.”
Now that they’ve been chosen by teammates, they’ll be expected to know what’s going on at all times, on and off the field, with those teammates.
“The biggest thing I think it means is sacrifice,” Norman said. “When you’re a leader, it’s not about you at all anymore.”
DECISIONS YET TO MAKE: Dantonio is encouraging his players to get out of town and see their families this weekend. Sunday will begin a week of practicing at night in preparation for an 8 p.m. kick against Boise State.
The morning scrimmage consisted of some live special teams work, Dantonio said, and he said MSU got through it healthy. He said “90 percent” of MSU’s starting lineup has been set, but battles continue at free safety and defensive tackle.
“In my mind, they’re sort of all starters,” he said of a three-man race at tackle led by Micajah Reynolds, and a four-man race at free safety led by Jairus Jones. “They’re gonna play significant snaps and that makes them starters in my mind.”
BURKLAND HEALING: Dantonio said last week that backup offensive tackle Skyler Burkland would be out a week or so with a hand injury suffered in practice. Asked Thursday about Burkland’s status, Dantonio was vague.
“Skyler right now is on the mend,” he said. “How’s that?”
HIGH PRAISE: Junior receiver Bennie Fowler has been one of the stories of camp, emerging as the top receiver after foot injuries hampered much of his career to date.
Dantonio said Fowler “has had a camp much like Devin Thomas did in 2007.”
All Thomas did that season, Dantonio’s first as head coach, was come out of nowhere to set an MSU single-season record with 79 catches, for 1,260 yards and eight touchdowns.
FRESHMEN IN MIX: Other than starting long snapper Taybor Pepper, Dantonio mentioned two freshmen who could play this season for MSU – safety Demetrious Cox and receiver Macgarrett Kings Jr.
Dantonio said Cox and Kings likely will travel with the Spartans to road games. Cox is the more likely of the two to burn his redshirt and see the field.
It’s no surprise—Michigan State is a team on the rise in college football.
Mark Dantonio has the Spartans at their best since Nick Saban was the head coach in East Lansing.
Dantonio has been called the savior of this team ever since he took over the head coaching job in 2006. The team was in shambles at the time after John L. Smith seemingly sunk the team and left Spartan fans scratching their heads game after game.
John L. Smith made just one bowl game in four years as head coach and it was a loss. Dantonio took over and brought the rebuilding squad to a bowl in his first year—their first bowl game since 2003. He has since brought the Spartans to a bowl five times. He has never missed out on postseason play in his five years as head coach.
It’s a fact, this team has only gotten better in the past five years. The momentum has definitely shifted in East Lansing since Dantonio took the reigns.
Last year, the Spartans earned their first bowl win since 2001 and beat a solid Georgia team from the SEC that was supposed to outrun the solid, but slightly slower, Spartan defense.
Michigan State is playing at their best level in over 10 years and they are still on the rise. They are coming off two straight 11-win seasons and have been in Big Ten title contention the past few years.
Michigan State will not only shock the Big Ten this year, but they have the talent to shock the entire college football world. For two straight years, the players thought they deserved a BCS bowl, but for the past two years, they have been left out in the cold.
Dantonio’s team won’t let that happen this year, and that is a promise. Here are a few reasons why they will shock the Big Ten in 2012.
1. The New Quarterback
Andrew Maxwell was highly touted out of high school and could end up being better than the former star quarterback, Kirk Cousins. Maxwell has spent enough time sitting on the bench and studying the X’s and O’s, inside and out, to realize what he needs to do to succeed.
He was mentored by one of the best quarterbacks in school history and one of the best leaders in college football last year. A mentor like that can only help his skill set and teach him how to become a leader among guys his own age.
Maxwell is a great kid that is an off-the-field presence that Dantonio can be proud of. On the field, he will be just as good. Last year in limited play, Maxwell completed 18 of 26 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown. Although this is a very small sample size, if he can put up numbers like that, but with more yards, game after game, the Spartans could be smelling roses soon enough.
2. The Defense
Defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi has Michigan State’s defense playing scary good. Narduzzi had the defense at the top of almost every category in the conference ranks.
The Spartans were one of only two Big Ten teams to allow less than 300 yards per game last season and topped the conference in that category. They ranked sixth in the entire country in yards allowed per game with 277.4 yards. They were also top 10 in scoring defense in 2011—somewhere they would have never found themselves before Dantonio.
The culture has changed in East Lansing. The Spartans are no longer a soft team that will try to outscore their opponents in order to earn the victory, but they have a good enough defense to play with anyone in the country.
They also have two projected top 20 picks for next year’s NFL Draft with defensive end and future superstar William Gholston, and also stud cornerback Johnny Adams.
Look out for this young defense that is returning most of the starters from 2011 to be the reasons that they make it to Pasadena in January.
3. The New Receivers and Veteran Running Backs
This is the final category that the Spartans will excel in next season that will earn them the coveted title of “Big Ten Champs”.
You may be scratching your head and wondering why I am putting receivers on this list. It may be because of the potential of the young receivers, or it may be because there are so many of them that they are bound to have a couple players excel.
This is the youngest and most unproven position on the team, but it is also the one with the most potential.
Tennessee transfer DeAnthony Arnett highlights the cast and could be a dominant down-the-field threat for Maxwell to throw to. Bennie Fowler and Tony Lippett have been waiting for their turn while they saw receivers such as BJ Cunningham and Keshawn Martin develop NFL talent.
These young receivers could be some of the best in the Big Ten, and even the incoming freshmen could make an immediate impact.
The running backs are solid and plentiful. Le’Veon Bell is the clear starter because of Edwin Baker’s early departure to the NFL. Nevertheless, Bell would have started even with Baker still on the team.
Bell rushed for nearly 1,000 yards last season while only starting in half the games. He also finished the season with 13 rushing touchdowns, which was good for fifth in the Big Ten. He will surely be one of the top three running backs in the Big Ten this season, and he is also considered one of many preseason Heisman candidates.
Larry Caper and Nick Hill are great complimentary backs for the powerful and elusive Bell. Larry Caper started five games as a freshman in 2009 and saw his playing time reduced drastically because of the solid play of Edwin Baker and then Le’Veon Bell. He finds himself as the backup this year and could experience more playing time.
Nick Hill is the kickoff returner and he is one of the best in the Big Ten. He finished the season with 999 return yards, good for second-most in MSU single-season history. The quick, shifty running back is entering into his sophomore year and could improve on his return numbers this season.
If he does, the Spartans won’t even need to play offense, because Hill could find himself in the end zone consistently.
The Spartans are a rising team, and for the recent successful seasons they’ve had, it shouldn’t be considered a shock when they do well. This is the case, unfortunately, and the Spartans could be shocking the entire country next season, not just the Big Ten.
1. Passing Game
The quarterback (Andrew Maxwell vs Connor Cook) and wide receiver (Tony Lippett vs Bennie Fowler vs Keith Mumphery vs DeAnthony Arnett) positions are up for grabs, along with some tight end spots (Dion Sims vs Evan Jones vs Josiah Price.
2. Offensive Line
As mentioned before, the offensive line should be stable this coming season. Most of the men return for another year, and each position is packed with talented backups.
3. Running Game
Last season the running game was not very effective due to very few veterans on the offensive line. Now that the linemen have more experience, expect the running backs to carry the ball more often. LeVeon Bell had an excellent season last year with carries split between Edwin Baker and Larry Caper. Baker declaring early to the NFL will give Bell the bulk of the carries this coming season. Bell may have the nod, but the players below him could easily change that. Caper is due for some playing time along with fellow running backs Nick Hill and Jeremy Langford. All of these players will be fun to watch when the spring game begins.
The whole defense will be something to watch this spring. After ranking in the top 20 in seven statistical categories and being the top defense in the Big Ten, this group is nothing but dominant. A majority of the defense returns this season, but there are some key spots that need replacing. The most critical area that needs to be addressed is the defensive tackle position (after Jerel Worthy declared himself for the NFL draft).
5. Special Teams (Punt Return)
The coaches are hoping Nick Hill will be the guy to replace Keshawn Martin. He has great field vision and releases quickly. He averaged 26.3 yards per gain on kick returns he attempted along with five punts returned last year. The most notable loss for MSU is the do-it-all receiver and punt returner Keshawn Martin.
1. Return focus to the running game.
with Le’Veon Bell, Larry Caper, Nick Hill
2. Develop the next Spartan ariel assault
Andrew Maxwell (Jr. QB), Bennie Fowler (Jr. WR), Tony Lippet (So. WR)
3. Take the defense to the next level
Best in the country not just the Big Ten
4. No let-down games in 2012
Like Iowa in 2010 and Nebraska in 2011
5. Expect greatness and play accordingly
Over the past two seasons, the Spartans have notched 22 victories. They have won four straight games over arch-rival Michigan and two of their last three against Wisconsin.
They have finally broken through with a major bowl victory against a high-powered SEC team. In 2011 the Spartans had a defense surpassed only by a few programs in the country, including both participants in next week’s National Championship Game.
Michigan State is no longer a “nice story” or the Cinderella of the conference. The program is becoming a Big Ten powerhouse that’s capable of playing (and beating) anyone. Despite having the 44th-ranked recruiting class in 2012 (according to Rivals), Michigan State has shown an ability for player development and defying these sorts of rankings under Dantonio and his coaching staff.
Challenging for Big Ten championships should not only be expected from this program going forward—it should be demanded. Without the previously mentioned slip-ups in games against Nebraska and Iowa, Michigan State would be in the National Championship conversation.
These types of expectations may seem unrealistic, but dreams do not become reality without that kind of belief. For the Spartans and their fans, the future is brighter than ever.
The team needs only to go out and take it.
(Found on Bleacher Report)