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Trenchmen’s Corner: Breaking Down the Michigan State Spartans Offensive Line Group

Former CFL scout Dave Van Nett breaks down the Michigan State Spartans offneisve line, and he was extremely impressed with the talent and experience on the line.
Former CFL scout Dave Van Nett breaks down the Michigan State Spartans offensive line, and he was extremely impressed with the talent and experience on the line.

For those of you that know me, I am a lifelong Wolverine! Go Blue! Coach Bo Schembechler is probably one of my most influential idols.  With that said, the following evaluation is difficult for me to write, as a fan, but a joy as a scout.  

Michigan State University Spartans have one of the most experienced offensive lines, as a unit, in all of the NCAA.  Now I didn’t say the best, I said one of the most experienced as a unit.  What do they need to do to be the best?  They need to bring the entire package together as a team.  You can’t have a dominant offensive line and the rest of the team not pulling their weight and expect to be great.

The Spartans offensive line, accumulatively,  has over 9000 snaps under its belt.  The seven linemen that are responsible for this are returning this season to make another run at greatness.  Who am I talking about?

  •     #76 LT – AJ Arcuri – Graduate – 846 snaps
  •     #75 OG/RT – Kevin Jarvis – Redshirt Senior – 1918 snaps
  •     #64 OC – Matt Allen – Redshirt Senior – 1225 Snaps
  •     #56 RG – Matt Carrick – Redshirt Senior – 1204 snaps
  •     #62 OL – Luke Campbell – Graduate – 1369 snaps
  •     #59 OC – Nick Samac – True Junior – 738 snaps
  •     #67 LG – J.D. Duplain – True Junior – 825 snaps

At the end of the 2019 season, the MSU offensive line looked amateurish at best.  Even with legendary offensive line coach Jim Bollman leading them.  They looked tattered and worn down.  Throughout the season they could never get into a rhythm due to injuries, it wasn’t the lack of coaching or poor coaching, Coach Bollman is a coach to be reckoned with.  It was simply young players and injuries not allowing them to get into a rhythm.  After seven seasons with the Spartans Coach Bollman decided to retire.  This opened the door for Coach Chris Kapilovic to take the reins.  Coach Kapilovic joined the team after a one-year stint at Colorado and a lengthy stay at UNC Tarheels.  In my opinion, Coach Bollman laid the foundation of these seven players and Coach Kapilovic has built the walls.  

These seven young men have really excelled throughout the 2020 season.  I watched five of the 2020 season games and what impressed me the most was their ability to work together as a unit.  Coach Kapilovic really has brought these young men together.  NFL scouts need to pay attention to this, having the selflessness to play as a unit and the amount of trust that is needed is rare to find in today’s society.  If I had the decision power at an NFL team I would be looking for just these types of young men.  It isn’t always about being labeled the number one offensive tackle in the country.  This creates ego and ego gets in the way of teamwork.

What I saw in each game, regardless of which players were in, was their ability to move the defensive line and open some serious gaps.  Their double teams were impressive, the inside and outside zone work was very impressive.  Their pass pro at times did need a little touch-up when it comes to technique, but overall the run game was very good.  Their overall ability to double team and chip off the defender to the second level was excellent as well.  Their ability to down block as a unit and build a wall was really impressive.  Throughout the Indiana game and the Northwestern game, the ability to build the “wall” was most impressive.  They had success double-teaming and chipping off to the second level in the Michigan game as well.

The two most impressive players to me on this line are right tackle Kevin Jarvis and center Nick Samac.  I believe these two young men are the glue that holds the line together.  With Jarvis a redshirt senior and starting in 27 of his 32 games, he sets the standard across the line.  He is explosive and technically sound, a couple of things to tweak but technically sound.  More impressive to me is Nick Samac, the center.  The 2020 season was his true sophomore season and he was extremely impressive in every aspect of his game.  He leads by example.  His snaps are crisp and clean. He explodes off the ball and delivers vicious hits in run blocking.  He does need some work on his second-level attack, but it’s a minor adjustment that is needed.  His teammates look to him to set the pace.

I don’t want to be misunderstood by Jarvis and Samac.  The entire offensive line is impressive both as a group and individually.  I just feel from my research that Jarvis and Samac have really set the tone as leaders.

I predict the 2021 season will be a very impressive one for the Spartan offensive line.  Coach Kapilovic will have these guys dialed in.

Note:  Stay tuned as the season progresses for the individual reports on all of these young men.

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