White, suspension-riddled wide receiver corps ready for bowl game
White, Martin, Colbert and Sonntag MSU's top 4 WR's
Of the four wide receivers listed on the MSU football team’s depth chart for the Valero Alamo Bowl, only one came to campus on scholarship — sophomore Keshawn Martin.
Of course, senior Blair White has since emerged as the team’s top receiver and earned a scholarship, but backing up White and Martin will be redshirt freshman Milton Colbert and 5-foot-8 sophomore Brad Sonntag.
Ravaged by five suspensions at the position, head coach Mark Dantonio doesn’t appear to be afraid to get creative, at least in practice, in preparation for the team’s Jan. 2 game against Texas Tech.
“What I’ll say is this, we have a football team full of football players,” Dantonio said. “We have to be able to use anything that we can to be successful. We have a team of football players and many of our football players went both ways in high school. … There are all kinds of different ways and shapes that we can come and get ourselves ready to go.”
In the absence of sophomore B.J. Cunningham and junior Mark Dell, the Spartans lose 74 receptions, nearly 1,100 receiving yards and five touchdowns. With a lack of depth at the position, White said he’s preparing himself for extra snaps by improving his conditioning during bowl practice.
“It’s not exactly game speed, though, so we’ll see when I get out there,” White said. “But after the first couple of series I should be fine.”
The gap at receiver not only opens opportunities for Colbert and Sonntag, but for MSU’s talented group of tight ends, as well.
“We’ve consistently used those guys throughout the year,” offensive coordinator Don Treadwell said. “Probably as they continued through the season even more so.”
But staying balanced is important for the Spartans, Treadwell said. The team had an up-and-down season running the ball, but will need its rushing attack more than ever against an explosive Texas Tech offense.
“You want to just keep them off the field,” sophomore quarterback Kirk Cousins said. “The more you can control the clock and be on the field, then your defense doesn’t have to be on the field and that’s really your best defense — when they don’t have to be on the field.”
Freshman running back Larry Caper is ready for what probably is the biggest game of his career in the Alamo Bowl.
“I really didn’t care what bowl we went to,” Caper said. “I just wanted to go to a bowl game and have an opportunity to play one more game before next season. I’m thankful for it, but as the year progress, I think my expectations will get higher and higher.”