East Lansing — Already scrambling at left tackle, Michigan State got some news this week that only adds to its woes at arguably the most important position along the offensive line.
Kevin Jarvis will miss at least 6-7 weeks, head coach Mark Dantonio confirmed on Tuesday, after the junior left Saturday’s loss to Arizona State late in the first half. He appeared to suffer a leg injury when another player rolled into him from behind.
“That will probably be a six-to-seven-week injury,” Dantonio said. “So, I would expect him to be back by Penn State, or for sure in November. So, he’s not a season-loss guy, but he’s out right now.”
The Penn State game is Oct. 26 at Spartan Stadium. If Jarvis is back by that point, he would have missed four games, including this upcoming stretch that includes three of four away from home. Returning by November would mean Jarvis could play the final four games of the regular season.
Jarvis, who started 17 of 22 games at right guard entering the season, was shifted to left tackle in Week 1 against Tulsa because fifth-year senior Cole Chewins has continued to battle a back injury, while backup AJ Arcuri suffered an undisclosed injury.
Chewins and Arcuri remain “day-to-day,” according to Dantonio, which leaves the Spartans thin at left tackle. Fifth-year senior Tyler Higby replaced Jarvis and was listed No. 1 on the depth chart for this week’s game at Northwestern, while true freshman Devontae Dobbs was No. 2.
Higby, who has started 21 games at left guard and two at center, started three games at left tackle last season as Chewins was in and out with injuries. He’s played in 39 career games, giving him the decided edge in experience over Dobbs.
“I think that it’s knowledge based and youth based — a combination of both,” Dantonio said of Higby getting the nod. “I thought Higby went in there and played pretty well (against Arizona State), from everything that was given to me and indicated to me. So, he’s first man up but I would expect for Dobbs to possibly play, and he’s got to get ready to play.”
Dobbs, of course, is the coveted recruit who many fans have been pushing to see on the field.
The Belleville graduate was a five-star recruit according ESPN, creating plenty of buzz as one of the highest-rated offensive linemen Dantonio has recruited. He saw a handful of snaps late in the victory over Western Michigan, but that’s been it for Dobbs, as well as freshmen J.D. Duplain and Nick Samac. All three have been running with the second team, Dantonio said, with Duplain at left guard behind junior Luke Campbell and Samac at right tackle behind junior Jordan Reid.
“All three of those freshmen have been working with the twos and have been up with the twos and have been exclusively working on the second units,” Dantonio said. “I think those guys are prepared and whether they play this week or not will remain to be seen, depending on how we are playing, depending on injuries and things of that nature.
“But all three of those guys have been up with us, really through the whole month of August and into September. They are getting ready. It's just a bit of time on the offensive line.”
Barnett, Mosley making push
The offensive line isn’t the only place true freshmen are starting to get a look.
After pulling in his first career reception last week, wide receiver Julian Barnett continues to push for regular playing time, as does fellow freshman Tre Mosley.
Barnett has played in each of the first three games, while Mosley has yet to see the field.
“I see him being a guy that could possibly be playing more plays,” Dantonio said of Barnett. “He's just, some of the routes and things of that that nature, he needs to become a little bit more maybe crisp in terms of where he's going, but I think he's extremely capable.
“I also think Mosley is a guy that we'll see before the season's out, as well. I think he's coming, as well. Young players. Good players. Very good players.”
'Behind the 8-ball'
While admitting that some of the calls last week were worthy of disputing, Dantonio wasn’t letting his guys off the hook for committing 10 penalties. That came after 14 penalties in the season opener against Tulsa.
“There's some in question, but you've got to just play it out,” Dantonio said. “We've got to fix that. We address it every single day. We have refs out there every single day. You've got to play penalty-free. It puts you behind the 8-ball and also takes away from some of the different plays that occurred that were positive plays. It's frustrating.”