EAST LANSING - Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio announced yesterday that Kirk Cousins will start at quarterback for the Spartans in the season opener against Montana State.
Dantonio also announced that sophomore running back Caulton Ray of Birmingham Brother Rice has made it out of a deep and crowded group of running backs to make the start on Saturday.
"You know, we decided to go with our starting quarterback, Kirk Cousins will start the game, and we'll allow him to get into a rhythm in the game. Keith Nichol will play in the first half. We'll also allow him to get in rhythm," explained Dantonio.
"Both of these young men, as I've said throughout the entire summer practices and spring, are outstanding young people. Both show good leadership skills. Both make plays on the field. They have had great summer camps, and we are looking forward to watching them compete and play in these early games."
Dantonio said the situation is fluid and he will watch and see who transpires on the field before making any changes to the situation. He praised both Nichol and Cousins for showing "maturity" in dealing with the decision to play both after he informed them of it on Sunday night.
As for the running back position, a group of three players have separated themselves from the pack early as Coach Dantonio explained.
"Our running back situation, we have a group of running backs, I think it's a position of depth for us. We lose a star player in (Javon) Ringer, (and) we have two new freshmen that entered the scene. We will probably work these three guys in no particular order, Caulton Ray, Larry Caper, Edwin Baker. And those are the three guys that will take the majority of the reps at the running back situation."
Dantonio clarified the situation in follow-up questioning. I think coming out of the fall camp, (Ray has) again proved himself to be probably the guy that will start the game. He does a nice job at pass protection, he catches the call very well and does a nice job with vision on the field, cutting ability. He runs behind his pads. He does not fumble the football. He has proved to be reliable," he said.
Dantonio discussed the rebuilding of his offensive line which lost starter Roland Martin and Jesse Miller to graduation. Search GoSpartans.net for "offensive line."