Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said he challenged his team after its win over Tulsa. Dantonio says the effort needs to improve vs. WMU. Matt Charboneau, The Detroit News
East Lansing — A week into the season and Michigan State is already testing its depth chart.
While plenty of fans frustrated with the offensive performance in the Week 1 win over Tulsa would like to see a shakeup along the offensive line, the first shuffle is coming on special teams, and it’s not because of sub-par play.
Instead, it didn’t take long for the injury bug to strike as fifth-year senior long snapper Ryan Armour will miss the rest of the season, coach Mark Dantonio confirmed Tuesday.
“We lost Ryan Armour for the year; he is out,” Dantonio said. “It's a tough injury, but he's recovering mentally from it. He'll have to have surgery, so it’s season-ending.”
Armour hurt his left leg while covering a punt in the fourth quarter of Friday’s 28-7 victory over Tulsa. He put no weight on the leg when he was helped off the field, then was carted to the locker room.
The Traverse City native joined Michigan State as a walk-on in the spring of 2016 and redshirted that season. He did not see game action in 2017, but appeared in all 13 games last season and was awarded a scholarship in mid-September during Michigan State’s bye week.
Freshman walk-on Jude Pedrozo replaced Armour and snapped on Michigan State’s final punt of the game. He takes over while the Spartans likely will start looking for a backup, as Pedrozo is the only other long-snapper listed on the roster.
From Westerville, Ohio, Pedrozo was rated a five-star snapper from Rubio Long Snapping.
“Jude is … the heir apparent,” Dantonio said. “He's a good snapper. We recruited him with that idea, that he would be the guy. He's just going to have to pick up the slack a little earlier.
“He went in and snapped very well. He's done very well in practice. I have no concerns in terms of how he's going to do. I think he'll be outstanding.”
Armour’s injury was the only significant to occur during Michigan State’s win, but the status of a handful of players who were held out of the game remains in doubt.
The biggest impact has clearly been felt by the absence of fifth-year senior left tackle Cole Chewins. Not only was Chewins out, but his backup — junior AJ Arcuri — was held out with an injury, forcing the Spartans to start junior Kevin Jarvis, the regular right guard, at left tackle for the first time in his career.
Arcuri remains questionable heading into the Western Michigan game, while the status of Chewins continues to sound less than encouraging.
“Cole needs to practice full-go before he can play,” Dantonio said. “He's sort of in and out. Really don't like to talk about injuries, but he's in that situation right now where he's got to practice full-go before he can play.”
More run for Collins?
Michigan State didn’t get much production out of the running back position last week, as junior Connor Heyward, sophomore La’Darius Jefferson and redshirt freshman Elijah Collins combined for 68 yards on 30 carries.
Collins looked like he had the most jump in his step, scoring on a 15-yard run that was called back because of a penalty. It was enough that Dantonio said the former U-D Jesuit standout likely would see more carries this week.
As for the status of true freshman Anthony Williams, who was hurt early in preseason camp, Dantonio said there’s a chance Williams could return soon.
“Anthony will be able to play for us,” Dantonio said. “I don't know, the term I use is nicked up. He may be available this weekend, he may not be. Depends how his week goes.”
Dantonio also said sophomore defensive end Jack Camper will “be back soon” after he missed the Tulsa game.
Broncos prove pesky
Michigan State has won 11 straight against Western Michigan and considering how recent matchups have played out, Dantonio knows the Spartans will get the Broncos’ best effort this week. Michigan State cruised to a 24-point in over Western Michigan in 2010, but the margin in the next three meetings was 13 points twice and 14 points in 2017.
“I think our guys will have motivation this week. We'll be motivated,” Dantonio said. “They're going to come and play hard, they always have. I’ve got a great deal of respect for the Mid-American Conference, in particular Western Michigan and what they've been able to accomplish.”