Answering Your Michigan State Football Questions & Emails…

Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard Photo courtesy of Mark Boomgaard

Hondo, Great job as usual. MSU will return six legitimate, former starters on the O line next fall, plus Donovan Clark who also has started. Who of these will get to sit? What do you see as the opening day starting five? Randy

Randy, I think there are some young players who will push for some time also.  If I had to say right now Fou Fonoti, Jack Allen, and Travis Jackson are rock solid.  Everyone else and where they all lineup are up for grabs.


You are right; we could and would have gone to Phoenix but not to watch another low scoring loss. If Hollis wants us to buy bowl tickets he better hire a new offensive coordinator! It is time he gets the message….improve dramatically or the money dries up. Candidly, I hope he gets stuck with a big bill. Maybe that gets his attention. HJ Buter

I think that the OC is NOT the issue, but I certainly understand WHY people feel that way.  MSU must make some changes and if they do I have no concerns about Roushar.  I understand HJ that everyone seems to want me to jump on the ‘Fire Dan Roushar’ train, but my job is to tell the truth and give you honest analysis.  I can’t jump on that train, because I don’t think it is the answer.  Dantonio has much bigger staff issues than Roushar.


Hey Hondo, You’ve said several times that you think the MSU athletics administration understands the disappointment of the fans about the football season, but not the anger of the fans over this season. Is there any chance that the poor ticket sales for the bowl game wake them up to this fact or do you think they’ll still write it off as a disappointing season or increased sales through online second-hand retailers? I just keep hoping they won’t be in denial about what the fans are feeling.  Adam

I think Mark Hollis is WELL AWARE.  I do not think Michigan State football understands.  I think they are so dialed in that they are almost not cognizant of what is going on outside the Duffy.  In fairness, I don’t think any coach during the season can really get the depth of what is going on inside the fan base unless they are poor coaches who lead with every whim of the fan base.  I can assure you that this off season the MSU staff will get a firm grasp of where things are.


Hondo, why doesn’t MSU do a better job with roster management? IMHO, signing only 15 guys a year puts us at a disadvantage. The best evaluators will make mistakes. Transfers, injury retirements, leaving early to the NFL, WILL happen. Schools like UGA, sign 35! Would love to see MD take advantage of mid-year enrollees, grey shirting, etc…Brandon Sherman

Well, Dantonio could do a lot of things with the roster that are less than ethical.  Let me give you some examples.  He kept Arthur Ray on an athletic scholarship for years when it was clear he may not be able to play at this level.  A very good friend of mine who is an SEC position coach told me, “No way that happens in the SEC.”  He could bring players in and simply tell them that he won’t renew their scholarship and boot them out.  He doesn’t.  MOST, not all, but MOST grey shirts happen when schools call a player on signing day when he thought he had the scholarship and say, “oops.”  They would like to do more of it all, but there are scholarship limits and there are moral boundaries that Dantonio won’t cross.  I can tell you of about 10 guys on this team right now who won’t ever be major players, because of injuries or any number of issues.  Every program has them; many just get rid of them.  Dantonio does not.  Most people don’t know that many schools give scholarships that are year to year.  Dantonio gives them for the allowed length of time.


Hondo, I know that Taybor Pepper had a decent year as a true freshman.  My question is about Leland Ewing.  We watched him in high school and just wonder if you think he has a real shot at the job since Taybor is only a true freshman. Katherine in Jackson

Yes, he does.  Taybor is a good kid so this is not a slam on him.  Leland has an amazing work ethic and is pushing hard.  I think if Leland can keep improving this off season, with his work ethic he will have a true shot.  If Taybor and Leland were tied, I believe Leland would get the nod.  It is his job to get close.


Hondo, do you still think LeVeon goes pro?  Karuth

Yes, but I am in NO WAY saying that it is a done deal.  I do know that MSU is using the Heisman sales pitch to get him to stay.  Is that enough?  It may be, but I know some of the things that guys hear and as a RB, you only have so much tread on the tires.


Hondo, I was really excited about Evan ‘the bulldozer’ Jones coming to MSU as a freshman this year.  I was a little disappointed that he never played and redshirted.  Any update?  Carl Rome

Carl, for some reason we live in a society that thinks redshirting in football or not leaving after a freshman season in basketball means you are not a good player.  Jones is the REAL DEAL.  They have a lot of big plans for the Dozer and he will be just fine.


Hondo, I just got done watching the video interviews and I must confess I am glad you asked the players about all the expectations to start making this bowl game so big.  How big do you think it is?  Dennis in Okemos

Dennis, I think this is the single biggest off season of the Mark Dantonio era.  He desperately needs a win.  A win in the bowl game would give him something to build on.  A loss in the bowl game when you are so far away from your own goals, added to a mix of a brutally boring home schedule next year, and an outraged fan base, casts a dark cloud.  Not at all insurmountable, but the biggest off season of his time at MSU and a loss would make it even worse.


Mr. Carpenter, please help me.  My husband says that the only thing he wants for Christmas is your end of the year report on Michigan State football.  Where can I purchase it?  Chandra

Chandra, it is NOT available for purchase and ONLY comes after the year.  I think your husband was speaking about wanting it now instead of waiting.  Even Santa can’t have it early.


OK everyone, there you go.  Our weekly Q/A article.  If you would like your email to be considered for this article, please add to the subject line Football Q/A.  Email me at

About Hondo S. Carpenter Sr.

View all posts by Hondo S. Carpenter Sr.
Hondo S. Carpenter, Sr. is the founder and publisher of and all of the family of services. The idea was birthed when overseas he ran into a Spartan not native to the United States who was wearing his Green and White proudly. He is dedicated to bringing you the latest and greatest information about Michigan State and Detroit Sports News every day. He resides in the Mid Michigan area. Follow Hondo on twitter here: @hondocarpenter.

5 Responses to “Answering Your Michigan State Football Questions & Emails…” Subscribe

  1. Pete December 26, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

    In regards to where things are;

    1.) Let’s see; Dantonio is sticking with immobile quarterbacks and the pro style offense. He is sticking with Roushar who likes to scheme three yard patterns on third and twelve and never seems to get a run/pass rhythm that fools good teams. He is sticking with players who have demonstrated (for two years) that they can’t run block good teams and they can’t pass block hardly anyone.
    2.) We’re not going to finish 2013 recruiting with any kind of bang because Dantonio isn’t going to demand that athletes either improve their football skills or get out of the way so that someone else can. Guys like Hoover, Conway, Klatt, and Treadwell will hang around seemingly forever while guys like Knox, Kruse, and Scarpinato never see the field. Other guys like France, White, Thomas, and Sims are encouraged to play at 20 to 40 pounds over a good playing weight for their body type even though their lack of speed and endurance cost us games.
    3.) We’re not going to improve the coaching staff with men who have played the game professionally and who can convince high school players that they will learn the game properly, be conditioned ideally, and get a chance to compete at the next level. Dantonio is going to stick with his boys.

    So just why should MSU fans hope for a better year next year and why should they believe MSU football can consistently compete for B1G titles in the future? Sorry, Hondo, without significant changes to the football program, there is no real reason for anyone to think MSU football will be a competitive football program. The good news is that tickets will be easy to get. In fact, people will give them away.

  2. st8grad December 26, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    Pete- You do not have to have played the game professionally to be a great coach. I’m pretty sure they have always let the best players play. They have always said they will get the chance to compete and if they win out, they will play. I have hope in next season based on quality athletes, depth, and a coaching staff that has put together 11 win seasons. Yes, it seems that the staff needs evaluating. I know for a fact that stubbornly run at all costs sees to go. Some offensive schemes and philosophy needs to change. I’ve said those things for years! 2010 and 2011 were painful to watch at times to my friend. But the wholesale clean house idea is bordeline absurd. This recruiting class, average recruit ranking stacks up well in the B1G. You can’t have a top rated class without signing 25+ players, and any player that Michigan and Ohio State like, get a 4 star slapped on them by default. Yes we need good players, but the fact that we only have 14 or so scholarships to give is awesome. One only needs to point to Greg Jones, BJ Cunningham, Cousins, and Bell to know that this staff knows how to evaluate and develop talent. Furthermore, Coach Mannie is one the absolute best in the world at strength and conditioning. Your citing Thomas is more a problem with him putting food in his mouth than anything else. Same was true of Herzog not able to gain weight. He just didn’t eat enough. I don’t care what anyone says. Someone needed to show him what a jug of peanut butter looked like. I digress. Our football team has never once – NEVER – given up in a game or failed to bust their butts for the entire time. I have hope because I have seen what this staff can do. I have hope because they will make adjustments and we are probably pretty damn lucky that we only won 6 games so that Coach D makes those changes now. Just like Saban did after leaving MSU. I want this program to win as bad as anyone else. Once upon a time I stood in the stands all four quarters and watched as Ohio State hung 50+ points on us in the rain. I’ve seen Purdue pull two miracle upsets in the 4th quarter scoring three or more touchdowns with two minutes left to win. Michigan and their amazing comebacks, and 49 point drubbing of us in AA. Losing to Louisiana Tech. Lee Evans scoring 300 times in one game against us. Notre Dame in the monsoon. Penn State beating us 61-7. I could go on and on and on and on.

    We have come a LONG way! Have some faith.

    • Pete December 27, 2012 at 9:08 am #

      There is a difference between doing something with that kind of excellence that becomes a winning tradition and competing when it is possible or convenient. I can’t take any pleasure out of competing (and not quitting on the field as MSU has done in the past) when the talent is there to win and, if you don’t win now, you won’t get the talent later. It’s that simple.

      Football is increasingly a young man’s game in that, if a player doesn’t show something IN GAMES by the time they are a sophomore, they aren’t ever going to reach their potential. If by some stretch of fantasy MSU had recruited a Manziel, he would have been trained during his red-shirt into being a drop-back passer. Why? Because our coaches are not flexible or innovative and they constantly try to make kids fit the MSU scheme rather than change the scheme to get the most out of the player. You can coach that way if you can afford to throw away players (like OSU and UofM), but MSU can’t afford to do this and it means that your roster will always be full of guys that will never “get better” because coaches want to do the same things with a certain kind of player and some players don’t fit and never will.

      No, you don’t have to be a professional athlete to be a good position coach but, when kids are sick of football and would rather be doing something else, they will still listen to a coach who has coached or played “at the next level” because it is in their own best interests. UofM selected former professional coaches to be coordinators for a reason and, since they made the change, they’ve recruited linemen on both sides of the ball quite easily. If Roushar doesn’t get the job done (and he didn’t this year), get someone else. College football is a business, not a fraternity, unless you’re willing to let the fans in for free.

      Finally, I don’t believe in “fat” teams that have linemen that can’t play fast (no-huddle) on either side of the ball. MSU had a good defense only because of their linebackers and DBs are good. Their Dline cost them games (OSU). On offense, their line was horribly conditioned and performed poorly all year. Without Bell, they would have struggled to score more than 10 points a game. Guys like France, Hoover, and White are good for 10 plays a game and, with all their Mannie “bulk”, never got better. Even good players like Worthy realized they had to shed their Mannie fat when they got to the NFL. Mannie is charged to make them big like the pros. Iowa’s S&C coach makes them tough. Which approach gets players into the NFL?

      MSU football did have 2 good years but there is a very real danger that this program will fade into irrelevance in the next five. Those “bad old days” are coming back and maybe as soon as BW3.

  3. brian December 26, 2012 at 11:37 pm #

    Hondo: how can you type with a straight face that Dan Roushar is NOT “the problem”? He is responsible for the 107th ranked MSU offense, he is in charge of quality control, or lack thereof. And yet you think he is not the problem? Seriously? All the fans must be off base… I guess.

    Answer this:
    1) what made Dan uniquely qualified to earn the position in the first place? His incredible record as an OC in the past?

    2) Do realize this guy was pathetic at best as an OC, with his ONLY B1G OC gig going 3-9 and getting fired at Illinois

    3) Tell me if Narduzzi conducts interviews with such strong forceful language: “He (Maxwell) threw it well at home, but then we didn’t throw it quite as well as we’d like (Tuesday), nor did we catch it as well as we like,” Roushar said. “Hopefully, we’ll have a step forward and see better improvement in that area and more execution at a higher level.”
    Seriously? notice the weak as circus lemonade gems such as “we”, “hopefully” “see”. Who talks like that? a kindergarten teacher! Every Roushar quote is riddled with ridiculous wishful thinking.

    4) Please list out every top recruit Roushar brought in, and how they panned out of course

    5) Please list out every NFL lineman Roushar has coached in his tenure as MSU OL coach.

    Hondo: you are pretty good at this game. Yet a bit of Socratic reasoning could help back up your statements once in a while. If you can simply answer this gem: “Hondo what is the evidence to support your statement that Roushar is not the issue”, it sure would help.

  4. Terence December 27, 2012 at 12:55 am #

    I think some people look at the fact that we lost 5 games by a combined 13 points as if this year’s football team was close enough to being a top-tier team. I personally see that as a problem because in my opinion it is not enough just to “get by” the other team. We should be striving to score as many points as possible EVERY game. Most of the games we lost should not have even been close if we had a more consistent offense. Our defense is getting the job done, but unfortunately the offense has hindered this team greatly. There has indeed been flashes of brilliance, but in order to take that next step among the elite teams, we cannot continue to have the “play not to lose” mentality. Clearly these guys want to win, but the pieces have to be there to do so, and that starts with Dantonio and Roushar changing the offensive philosophy. I hope to see MSU change some things up on offense next year so that we aren’t keeping the games close to teams we are outplaying on the field.