Passing Game Produces Big Plays In Second Spring Football Scrimmage
Youth Clinic Photo Gallery | Spring Scrimmage Gallery
April 16, 2005
EAST LANSING, Mich. - With temperatures in the low-70s, Michigan State third-year head football coach John L. Smith sent his team through a 100-play "controlled" scrimmage in Spartan Stadium on Saturday, April 16 to conclude the third week of spring practice. An estimated crowd of 4,500 attended the two-hour, open practice.
The scrimmage featured 55 passing plays and 45 running plays. The Spartan defense came up with stops on 14 of 18 possessions and forced two turnovers. The team committed eight penalties (65 yards) overall, including five holding fouls called against the offense.
"We definitely took a step back today," Coach Smith said. "We're disappointed because the team had really shown improvement over the last two weeks but unfortunately, that momentum didn't carry over into today's scrimmage.
"We committed too many costly penalties and several of those flags killed drives. As a team, we lacked mental toughness.
"Defensively, we gave up too many big plays, especially in the passing game. If we don't get more consistent play in the secondary, we're going to be in big trouble this fall. The defensive line also didn't help much because it failed to provide consistent pressure on the quarterbacks."
Quarterback Drew Stanton (6-3, 228, Jr.), who played just 13 snaps with the first-team offense, completed 5-of-8 throws for 126 yards and one touchdown. His 30-yard completion to Matt Trannon (6-6, 225, Sr.) set up a first-and-10 at the Green 14. Three plays later, Stanton capped the 12-play, 72-yard drive with an 11-yard TD toss to tight end Ryan Woods (5-10, 194, So.), who broke strong safety Cole Corey's (5-10, 194, So.) attempted tackle near the goal line.
The first-team offense also produced points on its second possession. On the opening play of the drive from the White 30, Kyle Brown (6-1, 207, Sr.) grabbed a shovel pass from Stanton and raced 55 yards before being hauled down by cornerback Jaren Hayes (5-9, 180, Sr.) at the Green 15. A holding penalty helped stall the drive and four plays later, John Goss (6-3, 214, R-Jr.) converted a 41-yard field-goal attempt.
Hoyer hit 7-of-12 passes for 68 yards, including a 27-yard strike to Deon Curry (6-1, 205, R-Fr.) on a third-and-6 play late in the scrimmage.
Reaves connected on 12-of-24 attempts for 163 yards, one TD and one interception. He finished off a 10-play, 67-yard drive with a 50-yard bomb to Brown.
Domenic Natale (6-1, 181, Fr.) took 19 snaps with the second-team offense and completed 5-of-11 throws for 30 yards and one score. On the last series, Natale scrambled 26 yards to the Green 9 and two plays later, he fired an 11-yard TD pass to Agim Shabaj (5-10, 185, Sr.) in the left corner of the end zone on the final play of the scrimmage.
"Outside of Drew Stanton, none of the other quarterbacks consistently moved the team," Smith said. "We had been hoping that either Brian Hoyer or Stephen Reaves would step up and grab the No. 2 spot, but there hasn't been enough separation, and that's a concern."
Running backs Jehuu Caulcrick (6-0, 243, So.) and Jason Teague (5-9, 199, Sr.) combined to rush for 117 yards on 22 carries. Caulcrick again paced the ground attack with 72 yards on 13 attempts, including a 31-yard gain. Teague added 45 yards on nine rushes, including back-to-back runs of 15 and 17 yards.
"At times, Jehuu Caulcrick still plays like he's a freshman," Smith said. "Jehuu has to be a physical, punishing runner all the time. Early in the scrimmage, he spent too much time dancing, looking for holes. Later, Jehuu had success because he ran like a battering ram."
With running back Tony Howard (5-10, 201, R-Fr.) still sidelined by a sprained shoulder, walk-on Brett Kahn (5-9, 174, R-So.) saw extensive duty with the second-team unit. Kahn picked up 49 yards on 10 carries, ripping off four runs of 10 or more yards.
"We really like what we've seen from Brett Kahn," Smith said. "He's a tough, little guy with great quickness."
Brown had a team-high five receptions for 141 yards (28.2 avg.) and one score. Trannon and Jerramy Scott (5-10, 185, Jr.) had three catches each for 54 and 40 yards, respectively. Tight end Kellen Davis (6-6, 244, So.) also caught three passes for 33 yards. Twelve different receivers caught at least one pass.
"Kyle Brown has had a fantastic spring," Smith said. "Kyle is our most experienced receiver, plus he possesses all the intangibles, including a great work ethic. He has a great approach to the game and I wish others on this team would follow his example. Kyle doesn't talk much, but he comes to the practice field ready to work hard and improve. He has invested a lot of time in improving his pass catching and all of that hard work is paying off because he's consistently catching the ball and consistently producing big plays.
"Kellen Davis made a couple of great catches today. Kellen definitely has the ability to go down the field and make plays, but he has to improve as a blocker. Today, he got flagged for a couple of holding penalties. Kellen has to learn to play with better leverage and keep his hands inside (on blocks)."
Linebacker Eric Andino (6-4, 237, So.) recorded a scrimmage-best six tackles for the second unit, including one for a 2-yard loss. Second-team defensive end Justin Kershaw (6-4, 265, R-Fr.) produced five tackles, including a 9-yard sack, while back-up strong safety Tom Dance (6-1, 202, R-Fr.) registered four stops, an interception and a pass break-up.
"Tom Dance is beginning to learn how to play this game," Smith said. "Tom has made a lot of progress over the last two weeks, but he needs a ton more snaps."
The team concludes its 15 spring practices on Friday, April 22.
"We have a long way to go with just three spring practices remaining, but we must find a way to finish strong," Smith said.
Michigan State opens the 2005 campaign against Kent State on Sept. 3 in Spartan Stadium.
Additional Spring Football Notes . . .
at the official