FOOTBALL: Kershaw Adjusts to New Role

GSN Football Beat
Posted Jul 13, 2007


But this is a new season, with a new philosophy, at a new position. If the Spartans are to remain competitive in a conference characterized by the grittiness of it's trenches, Kershaw will have to not only fill a spot on the defensive line, he'll be expected to excel in that role as well.

EAST LANSING - Justin Kershaw is the kind of player coaches dream of. Not only is he a talented athlete with a good football instinct, but Kershaw will also put the team first.

This season, the 6-4, 260 lb. junior will step-up for the team as he moves inward on the defensive line to the tackle position. Last season Kershaw found a home at stud end and played solidly for an inexperienced sophomore, especially against the run.

But this is a new season, with a new philosophy, at a new position. If the Spartans are to remain competitive in a conference characterized by the grittiness of it's trenches, Kershaw will have to not only fill a spot on the defensive line, he'll be expected to excel in that role as well.

Strengths
  1. Confidence:
    Kershaw will enter the season knowing he has the full support of the coaches at his new position. "Justin Kershaw has had an outstanding spring. We’ve been able to move him inside from the end position, and he’s been very productive in there," head coach Mark Dantonio said in a MSU release.
  2. Experience:
    Although he will be learning a new position, Kershaw, along with senior Ervin Baldwin, brings an important amount of experience to a young, rebuilding defensive line.
Questions
  1. Does Kershaw have the size to play inside?
    At 260lbs., Kershaw will be one of the leaner defensive tackles in the Big Ten. The good news is that Kershaw has shown a knack for filling holes to stuff the run, and a reasonable schedule early on should assist the transition. But as the season moves into Big Ten conference play, time will tell whether or not Kershaw can hold his own on the inside.
  2. Will Kershaw be able to learn a new position and perform at a high level?
    The short answer is—he better. The position is so thin, four incoming freshman will push for playing time in a backup role. If Kershaw struggles at the position, or ends up injured, opposing teams will look long and hard at exploiting an underdeveloped D-line.
Projection

Expect Kershaw to get off to a quick start. Zone blitzing should pay off with Kershaw's athletic ability giving the Spartans lots of options. Look for Kershaw's first real test with the Notre Dame and Wisconsin weeks back-to-back.

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