EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State’s depth chart continues to evolve as the Spartans look for answers to end the program’s longest losing streak in 10 years.
With Maryland (4-2, 1-2 Big Ten) on deck Saturday and a four-game losing streak on everyone’s mind in East Lansing, Michigan State (2-4, 0-3) has new faces challenging for more playing time — if not the starting job outright — at plenty of positions this week. And that’s before you get to the continuing quarterback saga.
Here’s the latest, following Mark Dantonio’s Tuesday news conference:
- Freshman Justin Layne is now listed at the top of one cornerback position, ahead of Darian Hicks. The senior has missed the last two games because of injury. Layne had a 43-yard interception return for a touchdown last week against Northwestern but also had a mistake in coverage that led to a 57-yard touchdown pass for the Wildcats.
- Redshirt freshman Josh Butler is now listed alongside sophomore Vayante Copeland as the starter at the other cornerback spot.
- Freshman DE Josh King is second on the depth chart behind junior Demetrius Cooper, leapfrogging graduate transfer Gabe Sherrod for playing time.
- The tailback position remains a toss-up, with sophomores LJ Scott and Madre London, along with junior Gerald Holmes, all in the mix.
- Junior Dennis Finley, who suffered a fractured fibula and tibia in Week 5 of last season against Purdue, is second team at left guard behind redshirt freshman Tyler Higby. Finley was listed in the preseason as a starter at right tackle but has not yet played this season. Finley moved up the chart after sophomore David Beedle suffered an apparent left knee injury against Northwestern.
“I think first of all players need to compete within our football team certainly,” Dantonio told the media Tuesday. “We’re obviously going to have some depth chart moves as we go through this. I don’t think there’s any question that that happens. You got to continue to press on and there’s got to be focus. There also has to be pressure, not bad pressure, but pressure, not stress, but pressure on our players to perform, as well. I think that’s part of this, too.”
Kevin Goheen covers Michigan State for Landof10.com. Follow him on Twitter at @CincyGoGo