A lot of well-deserved attention is being tossed Johnthan Banks' way this preseason. When we spoke to him Wednesday, he said he's trying to push it aside, but it ain't easy. What could help Banks as much as anything this year is the depth MSU has at cornerback.
Seniors Corey Broomfield and Darius Slay are fine CBs in their own right. Broomfield has nine career interceptions, while Slay (an ICC transfer) recorded an interception last year (returned 72 yards for a touchdown) and played like a starter.
Banks, who had five INTs last year, said MSU's coaches "are going to have their hands full trying to put everybody on the field. We've got a lot of athletes back there. That's something we haven't had in the past, is a lot of depth. I can remember we played Arkansas here (in 2010), I played 90-something plays that one game.
"But now that we've got (Jamerson) Love and (Taveze) Calhoun and Slay and guys like that, that's just going to make our team so much better. I'm going to be shocked – I'm not trying to brag – if we don't have the No. 1 secondary in the country, maybe defense."
Behind the corners are the safeties, led by junior Nickoe Whitley. He's coming back from a late-season Achilles' tendon injury, and by all accounts the hard-hitting free safety will be full-go for the Sept. 1 season opener against Jackson State.
• There was a good bit of talk yesterday about the return of tight end Marcus Green, who was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA. His presence becomes especially important with starter Malcolm Johnson being injured over the weekend.
Green has played in 29 games since 2008.
"He's somebody that you can look up to that's going to do the right thing, and you can count on him to be in the right place at the right time when the ball is in the air," quarterback Tyler Russell said. "He's going to be where he needs to be. I'm glad to have him back."
Strength and conditioning coach Matt Balis is glad to have Green back, too.
"He's faced a lot of adversity. Nothing bugs him. He's a statue," Balis said. "There's nothing he can't do. He's really tough mentally. He's a great guy to have for our young guys, especially our young tight ends that we have."
• One more thing: You want to hear Balis get really technical about workouts and all the bodily chemicals he's worried about? Be my guest, and I'll let you translate for yourself.
"Our main focus is can we be strong throughout the entire workout. We might move some big weight at the beginning, but we still want to be able to do that the other workout also. So we change it up that way. A typical workout might be start out with something explosive, then go to a kind of multi-joint strength movement thing, kind of a single-joint or auxiliary movements. Sometimes guys start with an explosive movement, some start at a multi-joint movement, some start at not exactly a single-joint but kind of assistant movement, and they kind of rotate that way just so we can kind of see, OK, are certain guys still strong at the end of the workout in their powerful movements."
But wait, there's more!
"That's a big thing that I think we're doing a little bit more of this summer, is that we're running first sometimes, but when you run first you're kind of exhausted. You've depleted some of the glycogen in there. There are guys that have used a lot of that energy fluid, and that energy system's tired. … Now you get them inside the weightroom and say, OK, now we're going to move some weight, well that's kind of like the second half of the game. You're already blowing yourself out the first half – your glycogen levels are down, your ATP, PC's down. But that second half you've got to bring it. So we kind of train that way."
OK, I'll help y'all out a little bit. Glycogen aids energy storage, as does ATP (adenosine triphosphate). A Twitter follower tells me PC stands for phosphocreatine, which is similar to the first two. I'll take his word for it.