Spring Football Practice Update
March 30, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State football team conducted its third practice of the spring and its first in pads on Friday afternoon inside the Duffy Daugherty Football Building. Head coach Mark Dantonio, who is entering his sixth season at MSU, met with the media following the workout to give an update on the Spartans after one week of spring practice.
"I thought our guys came out and played hard," said Dantonio. "As always, you have to reduce the number of unforced errors...But we're giving maximum effort out here. We went about two and a half hours and did a lot of live work. Things are good."
The Spartans have the luxury of returning 51 letterwinners and 17 starters from last season's 11-3 team that won the Big Ten Legends Division and defeated Georgia in the Outback Bowl, but there will be several position battles during spring practice.
"We have a lot of experience back, but with that being said, we have a lot of young people too," said Dantonio.
"We've got good players on both sides of the ball. I think there's a lot of carry over, not just for them, but for the teaching. This is the ninth year coming together as a staff defensively. Everybody knows what they're doing and the teaching progression is very good, and a lot of our players are here for their second and third year, so there's a foundation."
One position group that will have a new look is wide receiver - the Spartans lost three players with starting experience in B.J. Cunningham, Keshawn Martin and Keith Nichol. Cunningham finished his career as the program's all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards, and was second in touchdowns.
"Right now, our wide receiver position was sort of depleted, so we're counting on guys like Tony Lippett to step in there, and Keith Mumphery," Dantonio said. "I thought A.J. (Andre) Sims had a good practice today. DeAnthony Arnett is working into the situation; (he's) very smooth and catches the ball clean. So those four guys are the guys that I sort of noticed. Obviously we're missing Bennie Fowler out there right now...We have a nucleus of people.
"I think there's a sense of urgency, but Lippett and Mumphery are going into their third year. Bennie Fowler is a guy who's going into his fourth year, and he'll be out here maybe at the end of spring."
Friday was also the first chance to see some of the players in their new positions, including senior Tyler Hoover, who has moved inside on the defensive line after being an end since his arrival on campus in 2008.
"(Tyler's) done a nice job, but again, it's the first day in pads," remarked Dantonio. "He's about 300 pounds, 6-7, playing inside...He's got good athletic ability. He's a guy that was 245 when he came in here, so he's added that weight. He's got good flexibility; he's a good athlete in there, so he can bend."
Although the Spartans have won 22 games the past two seasons - the most of any two-year stretch in program history - one message is clear from Dantonio: "We can't be complacent. We can't stand on what we've done before."
The Spartans will take a three-day break before returning to practice on Tuesday, April 3.
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