Baker leads backfield trio
If there’s one position the MSU football team doesn’t need to worry about, it’s running back. Whereas some teams have trouble finding one solid player to carry the ball, the Spartans have four viable options.
The most obvious back and likely starter is junior Edwin Baker, who rushed for 1,201 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. Baker enters spring ball ranked No. 18 on the 2011 Preseason Top 25 Heisman Watch List by nationalchamps.net.
However, the Spartan coaches love to split carries, and it’s likely there will be at least a three-man rotation.
Junior back Larry Caper is second on the depth chart for spring practices, and he looks to prove he’s healthy after an injury-plagued campaign last year. After a season during which he carried the ball 120 times in 2009, injuries limited him to only 38 carries in 2010.
With Caper out, sophomore Le’Veon Bell took full advantage of his opportunity. Bell had 107 carries and was the second-leading rusher last season. He looks to improve on a year where he started hot and tailed off toward the end, recording only 56 rushing yards in the final seven games.
“I’m just trying to start back over,” Bell said. “Erase all that from last year. Clean slate. I want to just take off and have a great season.”
And if necessary, the Spartans could look to redshirt freshman Nick Hill to take some carries. Hill was the Division 3-4 Player of the Year coming into MSU and was given the redshirt after recording only a single 2-yard carry last season against Western Michigan.
Hill said with three proven guys ahead of him, he knows it will be tough to get on the field with the offense.
But Hill knows he has an advantage with his agility and said he will try to impress the coaches with his skills as a kickoff and punt returner.
Hill’s agility, Baker’s explosiveness and the strength of Caper and Bell combine to make one of the most dangerous groups in the Big Ten next season.
“All of our backs have something different they bring to the table,” Bell said.
There was something unusual about senior quarterback Kirk Cousins when he took the field for practice Tuesday afternoon. He was sporting a brand new camera on his helmet.
MSU quarterbacks coach Dave Warner said it was an experimental thing and the video would allow Warner to see exactly what his quarterback can see on the field. However, Warner joked that it was kind of like watching the Blair Witch Project with the camera moving in all directions.
“First time looking at it, it bounces you around pretty good,” Warner said. “It almost makes you carsick, but it has its advantages.”
It’s no secret that there’s a lot of trash talking on the football field.
No teams are exempt from this, especially not the Spartans, Bell said following Tuesday’s practice.
After naming TyQuan Hammock the defense’s loudest player, he dropped a bombshell when asked who had the loudest mouth on the offense.
“(It’s) probably Kirk,” Bell said. “He talks a lot of trash. He’ll frustrate (the defense). Say the defense makes a hit after eight yards he’d be like, ‘Don’t get too happy, it’s an 8-yard gain.’”
The senior quarterback — who is trying to bring the ’90s phrase “Boo Ya!” back to the football field — generally was agreed upon as the offense’s biggest smack talker.
“Boy, I don’t know about that,” Cousins said. “I don’t know who it was who told you that, but if it was the defensive backs I think they need to take a look in the mirror.”