Monday, December 19, 2011

McDonald moving into leadership role (w/ video)

EAST LANSING — Ever since he arrived at MSU, Chris McDonald has looked up to fellow offensive guard Joel Foreman for leadership.

But next season, Foreman will be gone to graduation, and the Sterling Heights native McDonald will be the dean of the MSU offensive line. A week ago, the team captain Foreman brought up the idea of McDonald being a captain next season.

“He’s a tremendous leader and a guy that brings guys with him and brings them up,” the former Milford guard Foreman said. “We have a good future here at Michigan State with our offensive line.”

For McDonald, those words meant a lot, and being a captain would be an honor.

“I would love it. I’ve been building it,” McDonald said. “These past two years, I’ve been trying to focus on being a leader on the field, not being a vocal leader. I think it’s my time to step up now that’s Foreman’s leaving.

“Foreman is one of the greatest people I’ve ever met. I’ve learned so much from him and I’ve just used what he’s taught me and hopefully I can bring that to the younger guys.”

A year ago, McDonald was put into a starting role for the first time. Coming into this year, the offensive line was the biggest question mark, as only Foreman and McDonald were returning starters.

Early in the year, McDonald deferred to Foreman. But as the year wore on, McDonald grew into a leadership role alongside Foreman and is ready to take that to the next level.

“I didn’t feel like it was my responsibility. Foreman was voted captain, so he had to be vocal, and I was just focusing on what I had to do and help the younger guys,” McDonald said. “Now that I know exactly what I’m doing and Foreman is gone, it’s my time to step up and take that role.”

While the Spartans finished the season 11th in the Big Ten in rushing, at 142.9 yards per game, they averaged 171.2 on the ground over the last four games, including 190 against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game. The Spartans also finished second in the conference in fewest sacks allowed.

After dealing with several injuries early in the season, the offensive line is playing its best football at the end of the year. They will have to be strong in the Outback Bowl, as Georgia is ninth in the nation in rush defense and 22nd in sacks.

As for the future, it looks bright. Foreman is the only starter finishing up his eligibility and the Spartans have several players with at least two years remaining ready to push for starting roles.

“I think that game (against Wisconsin) was a showing of what’s to come,” Foreman said. “Obviously we’re only going to lose me to graduation and the offensive line is mostly going to return next year. They’re a group that is really close and they have great chemistry, and I think that’s one of the reasons why we were able to be successful throughout the year.”

Narduzzi pulls out of Akron

Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports reported Sunday that MSU defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi had pulled his name out of the mix for the head-coaching job at Akron. Pete Thamel of The New York Times later reported the same thing.

If true, it would be good news for MSU fans, who don’t want to lose the man who helped MSU become the No. 5 defense in the nation in yards allowed. Narduzzi also reportedly has interviewed at Pittsburgh, but signs point toward Wisconsin offensive Paul Chryst as being the top candidate.

MSU is supposed to be raising salaries for assistant coaches in early 2012.

Rashad White moves into starting role

With defensive tackle Kevin Pickelman going down to a knee injury in the Big Ten title game, Anthony Rashad White will start in his place in the Outback Bowl.

Rashad White started the first three games of the season, but a deep thigh bruise and solid play from Pickelman put Rashad White in a backup role. Now Rashad White is looking for a strong bowl performance that can carry over to next season.

“(The coaches) want more, I want more,” Rashad White said. “I need to step it up another level, so that’s what I’m working on.”

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