It's still the off-season and college sports news is, at best, sparse. So to pass the time we're making up our own news. In that vein we're previewing portions of the University of Michigan Football Team's upcoming 2010 Schedule.
Specifically, we're previewing the most dangerous players on each team Michigan will face this year. Some will be on offense, some on defense, and all of them will be players worthy of your scorn. We've got a full 2010 football schedule, so we'll break down the key cog to each opponent one at a time. We've even got a convenient schedule and hatin' guide for you to go off of.
Next up on our list of loathing is a familiar and capable foe in the form of Michigan State's senior captain, First Team All-Big Ten, and AP All-American Linebacker Greg Jones.
Who Is He, Exactly?
If you follow the Big Ten, Jones is reputed to be the best Linebacker in the conference. Jones was a bright sport on Michigan States otherwise suspet defense; an All-Big Ten, All-American last year in a season that saw the Spartans finish dead last in the Big Ten in pass defense. Despite the seeming lack of talent around him, Jones finished second in the Big Ten in Conference tackles with 95, and posted six conference sacks. Overall Jones posted an insane 154 tackles, 9 sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss season in 2009.
Jones is light years ahead of where he projected out of high school. The Cincinnati native was initally considerd a middling three star recruit, with mostly MAC offers, Cincinnati, MSU and Minnesota. Jones picked Michigan State and has since blossomed into one of the Big Ten's better linebackers. A starter since his freshman year, Jones has led his team in tackles every year since 2007. What's mind boggling is that Jones effectively doubled his tackles from 2007 (78 tkls) to 2009 (158 tkls).
At this point the NFL awaits. Had Jones left early he might have gone as a second or third rounder, based seemingly solely on questions about his size and ability to play middle linebacker at the pro level with a "smaller" frame. Wisely, for him at least, Jones turned down the NFL and came back for his senior year at State.
So, Explain Why We Should Hate Him
I don't think I need to belabor this point too much. He's a Spartan. He's an All-American. He's All-Big Ten. He's a pain in the ass.
Let me put it this way, Michigan State hasn't won three straight games against Michigan since 1965-1967. Lyndon B. Johnson was President. This must stop now.
Jones is the key to what is a very average defense. While the Spartans were excellent against the run, they couldn't cover a pizza bagel in a microwave. Jones keyed their run defense with his excellent sideline to sideline speed, and if there was a tackle to be made or assist on he was in on it. Jone is also the key to protecting the middle of the field against the pass. More likely than not Jones will pick up the responsibility for covering Kevin Koger and Martell Webb off the line. If they can get Jones off the line even a little it'll allow the running game to get going. Michigan will have to attack Michigan State in the air, and Jones will determine whether the Wolverines are able to do that.
So.... yeah. He's Michigan's State's captain. What more do you need?
More after the jump.................
Give Me His Weaknesses, So That I Might Exploit Them
Reading the scouting evaluations, one unanimous criticism I've seen is a lack of coverage awareness. Jones isn't a "big" guy at 6'1", but he's big enough to play MLB in college. Watching some of his games, size hasn't been a problem, but coverage defense and over-pursuit have been. IMHO, Jones loves being around the line but tends to get lost in space from time to time when he's not in run support or pass rush. In either scenario, Jones tends to over pursue. Not in an Obi Ezeh over pursuit sense, but he can get drawn in with play action or misdirection. If you're hung up on the "size" issue, then have him met Stephen Hopkins at the LOS. The collision should be enough for a contained nuclear reaction. I'm not betting that a freshman like Hopkins is going to bowl over the senior All-American, but the collision should be fun to watch.
Now you know what you need to know. Get your hate on. Your target is MSU's Greg Jones.