QB, RB Position Battles Among Pressing Questions for Mel Tucker of Michigan State

Though Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker enters his second season with the Spartans, he will now participate in his first spring practice with the team. Spring practice was canceled last year because of COVID-19.

The team went 2-5 overall in the pandemic 2020 season, so for the Spartans to compete, countless adjustments need to be made.

Who leads the Spartans in QB competition?

Quarterback Rocky Lombardi transferred to Northern Illinois, leaving the team with an open spot for the starting QB role.

The leaders of the QB battle seem to be redshirt freshman Payton Thorne and graduate transfer Anthony Russo.

Thorne appeared in four games in 2020 and showed hints of potential — he threw for 325 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start as the Spartans lost to Penn State in the season finale.

Redshirt sophomore Theo Day and true freshman Noah Kim return as scholarship quarterbacks, although neither took a snap last season.

Matt Wenzel of MLive says, “How the depth chart fills out below them will also be interesting and that’s where the importance of a spring game comes in. If the game is public …, outside evaluations can be made. If it’s not, then we’ll all be limited to what is said by players and coaches, and Tucker declined to name a starter before the opener last season.”

How do the Spartans improve their ground game and fill in the necessary parts of a backfield that has been dysfunctional?

Michigan State’s rushing attack struggled before the pandemic, and after this season, the team ranked No. 122 out of 127 teams in rushing, with just 91.4 yards per game.

This marks the program’s lowest total in records dating back to 1947, Michigan Live reports.

The Spartans had only two rushing touchdowns last season, and neither one came from a running back. Therefore, improving the ground game is a must if the team wants to compete.

“After rushing for 988 yards and five touchdowns in a breakout redshirt freshman season in 2019, Elijah Collins didn’t look like the same player while posting only 90 yards on 41 carries in a reserve role,” the Michigan Live reports. “True freshman Jordon Simmons showed the best burst of the group and led the team with 219 yards on 56 carries in five games.”

Transfers and early enrollees are one major factor in addressing the issue.

For now, we will have to keep an eye on the program and see how Tucker plans to develop the team with more time and resources at his disposal.

Written by Megan Turner

Megan graduated from the University of Central Florida and writes and tweets about anything related to sports. She replies to comments she shouldn't reply to online and thinks the CFP Rankings are absolutely rigged. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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