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Spring Football Update: Coach and Player Quotes

April 4, 2018

EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan State football team is heading down the homestretch of spring practice with the annual Green-White spring game, presented by McLaren Health Plan, set for Saturday, April 7 at 5 p.m. in Spartan Stadium.

After MSU’s 12th spring practice on Tuesday, several coaches and players spoke to the media to give an update on the team.

Co-Offensive Coordinator/Tight Ends Coach Jim Bollman

On the leadership seen from Matt Sokol
Really improved in all phases and you wouldn’t think there would be that much mentally to do, but he keeps pushing himself to do more and more and has gotten a lot bigger and a lot stronger. He is really playing better than he ever has.

On what he would like to see from Matt Dotson
He knew that he needed to work on his blocking and improve on that and he’s really doing a great job of doing that. He’s always been a very good runner and continues to improve on other parts of the game too. He’s really doing a good job.

On who has surprised him most in the offseason…
I would say that Matt Sokol has been very good, and it’s easy for me to say that because I’m with him every day. He’s in my room, you know, but he’s doing a very great job on trying to exercise that role. The older guys are doing a good job of bringing young guys along. We are still really young. I mean if you really look at the people that are playing, there’s still a lot of years left in them and even though they’ve got their feet wet they can still improve a lot more.

 

 

Junior quarterback Brian Lewerke

On what the offense needs to do to win the spring game Saturday…
We’ve just got to execute and not turn the ball over. I think that’s been the biggest thing for us is easy plays that we’ve all been running for a couple of years, even some of the older guys, messing it up for no reason. The ball being on the ground, fumbled snaps, all of that stuff is probably the two things we need to fix before that happens.

On Connor Heyward
I think he’s going to be a big part of the offense this year for sure. He’s one of the guys that is very good at seeing the hole and hitting it hard. He also likes to run over guys, so those are two big things that are good for him.

On what he’s seen out of Matt Dotson
He’s probably got one of the better hands out of all of the tight ends. He’s very athletic, obviously tall. So you can kind of just throw the ball to him in the red zone which is advantageous for him, for sure.

On Cody White
He’s a very smart receiver. He knows where to run his routes and how to kind of stay away from defenders and get open. That is the biggest thing for receivers is learning how to just get open and getting into the empty space and I think he’s done a good job of that.

On Cam Chambers
Recently I’ve noticed he’s been playing, we’ve been trying to rotate all of our receivers around to try and get them to play different positions, and he’s been playing all three. He’s done a great job of trying to learn that and obviously it’s new for him because he’s only done the X position for the past couple of years so he’s still learning through some things, but I think he’s done a great job of stepping up.

Assistant Head/Offensive Line Coach Mark Staten

On the spring season…
That’s the part I love about spring. I love mixing and matching and trying to see, ‘okay this is why this works.’ You know a lot of times I like putting older guys next to younger guys and we’re pretty young across the board so that get kind of hard to do sometimes.

On the younger players…
They’re doing great. They’re doing really, really good. They’re stronger, understanding technique more, understanding where they’ve got to go, what kind of authority they have to go there, and it’s just been a fun spring.

On if last year’s results surprised him…
It doesn’t surprise me, 10-3, because that’s what’s expected. So, I know that it surprised a lot of people out there, but it didn’t surprise me because that’s what I expect.

Now the way that they were able to – the freshmen – rely on each other, that part was fun. And then now their job, some of those young guys, is to now help others and in helping others, you learn. You know, if you’re able to teach, you’re able to retain even more, so that’s part been fun watching them help each other, watching them work. Sometimes I’ll just sit back and let (GA) Blake Treadwell run a drill and watch and listen to them talk, and that helps Blake and that helps those guys, so I enjoy that.

On Jordan Reid
He’s going to be a starter this year. Where, it will depend. If he wins the center spot then somebody else will play right tackle. If he wins the right tackle spot, somebody else will play center. If he wins the left tackle spot, somebody else will play right tackle. That’s on him, but he’s definitely a starter, doing good things.

On Brian Lewerke being able to change up at the line of scrimmage…
If he changes to the right one. I mean it happens sometimes, but he’s awesome. Lewerke’s a great guy, great teammate. My favorite part of him is at the bowl game right before he went out there, one time he got a little chippy and after the game I said, ‘that’s my favorite part of the year with you.’ And as long as he continues to do that we get better. As long as he demands because he’s a terrific leader and now if he expects it out of himself so that parts fun.

Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach Mike Tressel

On what the spring game does for the younger guys…
There’s a half a dozen guys on our defense and the two-deep that really have never played any significant downs in front of fans. I know it won’t be 80,000 people necessarily when it’s going to be 30 degrees out on Saturday night, but there will be people there. And all of a sudden it is different when I guess your actions on the field, your successes and your mistakes, there’s 25,000 eyes on you giving you immediate feedback. So, it’s different in how they handle that. This is their first experience. I’m sure they’ll do a great job and they’ll be fun to watch.

On playing the spring game in the evening…
Yeah, it’s different. That’s great, that’s great, let’s get under the lights. I think it will be fun, I think it will be a little bit calmer for our guys. You know we do a youth clinic with probably 1,000 little kids and there’s a lot that goes on spring game day, so it won’t quite a squished together. Hopefully our guys have a little more time to get mentally prepared.

Co-Offensive Coordinator/Running Backs Coach Dave Warner

On what he’s seen from his offensive positions…
I think probably our tight end positions have done a lot of work and they’ve come on. Receivers is probably number one. They’ve stepped up as expected. You know we had high expectations coming in this year and I thought they’ve performed very, very well.

On Connor Heyward stepping into a playing role…
He’s done well with it. He’s done a great job with him in that position, but he’s also a guy that’s very, very versatile. You know he can play slot receiver for us, he can do a lot of different things, but as far handing the ball off to him he’s doing a great job. He’s picking up the offense well and he’s done very well.

On Connor Heyward’s running style…
He’s got very good and more patience than other running backs. He’s got a good feel for allowing blocking screens to take play and then finding the hole and exploding through the hole.

Senior safety Khari Willis

On the difference in his leadership from last year…
I think I’ve been leading since I’ve been here. At least I’ve had opportunities here and there, but when you’re here for longer and you know a lot more, you just try to lead your team. I’ve got my teammates’ support. I feel like that’s the biggest thing is they support me, and they trust me, and I trust them as well, so I feel like it’s been going well.

On who he has seen take big steps this spring…
Honestly, I think it’s our whole entire defense, really. I mean you look up front, I feel like we’ve got a lot of guys up front. I try not to pick anyone out in particular, but just a lot of guys up front that I feel are stepping up like young guys, a lot of linebackers. Young linebackers are looking pretty good too, so I feel like our entire defense is looking well.

On Coach Tressel relying on him with new coaches this year…
Best thing about the new position coaches is that they’re both great guys and they’re not like it’s my way or the highway, they’re willing to meet at common ground. But they’re also willing to teach us some things. You know with Treadwell coming from offense there’s some things about how they like to attack us, and Coach Haynes as well you got lots of experience. I feel like it’s been good for us.

On how Kalon Gervin and Xavier Henderson are adjusting…
Yeah, you know coming in early, I feel like they’ve been doing a great job. You can’t really tell that they’re freshmen. Everybody is out there making mistakes together, but I mean they’re looking well, playing better, trying to learn, trying to adjust. So I think it’s been going well for both of them so far.

On what he learned from guys before him…
It’s something I had RJ Williamson, you know Monte (Nicholson) and Demetrious Cox, and just those guys that came before me. They were able to answer any question I had and take the time out of their day, so I just try to relay the favor and do the same.

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