Front and center: Cook the best choice for MSU
Reading between the lines after one week of Michigan State football practice, it appears the Spartans are ready to hand the center position over to Kyle Cook. Cook, a senior and the best lineman on MSU's underrated front, is competing for the starting job with junior John Masters. Masters played the position all spring while Cook, a starter at left guard last year, was nursing a shoulder injury. He's a hard worker and technically sound, but doesn't provide near the physical presence Cook does. That nastiness is important to a team that runs a one-back offense and often relies on quarterback Drew Stanton to get tough yards near the line of scrimmage. By shifting Cook to center - a decision that should become more apparent after today's scrimmage - the Spartans also will be able to get their five best linemen on the field. Junior Peter Clifford should take over at left guard where he and tackle Mike Gyetvai will work side-by-side the next two years. On the right side, sophomores Jesse Miller and Roland Martin could develop into one of the Big Ten�s best duos by the time they're seniors. With the offensive line all but settled - and with Ervin Baldwin a virtual lock to start at rush end � the only real position battle to watch leading up to MSU's Sept. 2 opener against Idaho is at kicker. That competition will carry over into the season, but I expect big-legged sophomore Todd Boleski to handle the kick-off duties and freshman Brett Swenson to take most of the field goals. Either way, the Spartans should be better on special teams than they were a year ago, when field-goal goofs cost MSU two games and a bowl bid. I don't know if the lack of competition is good or bad, but in Michigan State's case I think it says more about the backups than anything. The Spartans remain a thin bunch overall, one that could be decimated if a serious injury strikes anywhere but receiver.