April 19, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Under partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid-60s, the Michigan State football team held its second jersey scrimmage of spring practice Thursday afternoon in Spartan Stadium. Utilizing a modified scoring system, the offense defeated the defense, 62-59, in a "situational" scrimmage.
In the first scrimmage held on Saturday, the defense came away with a convincing 72-32 victory.
The biggest difference for the offense in the second scrimmage was the running game. Senior Larry Caper led the way with 106 yards on 21 carries (5.0 avg.), including a 22-yard touchdown and another rush for 31 yards, the longest of the day. Sophomore Nick Hill carried the ball 12 times for 51 yards, while junior Le'Veon Bell had 48 yards on 13 attempts. Hill (15 yards) and Bell (2 yards) also had touchdown runs. The three running backs combined for 205 yards on 46 carries (4.5 avg.) and three TDs.
Red-shirt freshman Connor Cook, who took a majority of the snaps in the scrimmage due to Andrew Maxwell's sprained knee, was 15-of-34 passing for 144 yards and one touchdown. Cook completed passes to 10 different receivers.
Junior defensive end William Gholston led the defense with 10 tackles, including five for losses (17 yards), and had an 8-yard sack. Junior linebacker Denicos Allen posted two tackles for loss (7 yards) with a 6-yard sack, and collected five stops overall.
Defensive tackle James Kittredge was active with a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a pass break-up, while Tyler Hoover also made plays on the inside of the defensive line with five tackles. Red-shirt freshman safety R.J. Williamson led the secondary with six tackles, including one for a 2-yard loss, and also recovered a fumble. Fellow red-shirt freshman Trae Waynes tallied five tackles and two pass break-ups.
Early in the scrimmage, the defense again got off to a strong start and jumped out to a 23-11 lead.
But paced by a strong rushing attack, the offense stormed back to take a 57-38 advantage. The offense started the rally on a 22-yard rushing touchdown by Caper that trimmed the lead to 27-21, while Bell's 2-yard TD run put the offense down just two points at 32-30.
Cook's 25-yard completion to Andrew Gleichert, Cook's longest pass of the afternoon, set up a Dan Conroy 24-yard field goal that gave the offense a 37-32 lead. The offense continued its scoring run on a 42-yard field goal by Conroy, a 15-yard TD run by Nick Hill, and a 3-yard TD pass from Cook to Trevon Pendleton that pushed the lead to 19 points at 57-38.
The defense quickly rallied with two fumble recoveries, a sack by Gholston, and a pass break-up by Isaiah Lewis on a third down that cut the lead to four points.
With the defense leading 59-58 late in the scrimmage on a fourth-and-8 play from the defense's 40-yard line, Cook connected on an 8-yard pass to Andre Sims, giving the offense a pivotal first down to stay alive while tying the game at 59.
The defense then held the offense from converting another first down, setting the stage for Conroy to win it with a 45-yard field goal attempt. After a timeout by the defense, Conroy drilled the kick through the middle of the uprights, clinching the green jerseys for the offense with a 62-59 win.
Following the scrimmage, the team was presented their championship rings for winning the 2011 Big Ten Legends Division and the 2012 Outback Bowl.
Michigan State will resume spring practice on Friday.
Second Spring Scrimmage Recap
Time elapsed: 2:30 (127 total plays)
Defense (solos-assists-total): William Gholston 7-3-10 including 5.0 tackles for loss (17 yards) and one sack (8 yards); RJ Williamson 4-2-6 including 1.0 tackles for loss (2 yards) and a fumble recovery; Darien Harris 1-5-6 including 1.0 tackles for loss (4 yards); Denicos Allen 1-4-5 including 2.0 tackles for loss (7 yards) and one sack (6 yards); Tyler Hoover 3-2-5 including 0.5 tackles for loss (2.5 yards); Trae Waynes 2-3-5 and two pass break-ups; Max Bullough 3-2-5.
Mark Dantonio post-scrimmage quotes:
General comments on the scrimmage...
"I thought our defense started very fast. We got a lot of reps with Connor Cook and I think over the course of the scrimmage, you saw him make some plays, which was good to see. Our offense started playing better at the midpoint (of scrimmage) and sort of pulled back into it. Obviously at the end, Dan Conroy wins it with a kick. It was a good, competitive scrimmage, and that's what we want. I thought it was a physical scrimmage, and we came out of here pretty healthy."
On the running game, specifically Larry Caper, Le'Veon Bell and Nick Hill...
"I thought those guys all played pretty well. They got involved midway through the scrimmage; we put a lot of first-and-10 situations out there, and some third-down situations. It was a good scrimmage and we did it a little bit of a different way, so that was a positive as well. Anytime you see your guys working hard and colliding with people, that's the name of the game out here. I think we got some things done and we'll have some good film to watch."
On the play of William Gholston and the defense...
"Our defense is going to put pressure on you. I thought we played well up front for the most part. Will is a great player out there. I thought Rush did well; it's tough to say when you're just walking off the field. There were some good things, and there's some things we need to improve on, but that's the way it goes in the spring, and really, through the fall. You always have to try and look for improvement."
On the last week of spring practice and what he wants to accomplish...
"We'll start to work on some opponents a little bit...We have four practices left, so we need to stay healthy through the four. The spring game is going to be a big thing for Connor Cook; he'll play both sides. He'll get a lot of opportunities...It will be exciting to watch him grow."