Spartan Tailbacks Showcased in Spring Scrimmage

MSU football ends third week of practices with annual scrimmage.

April 18, 1998

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State head football coach Nick Saban sent his team through a 150-play scrimmage in Spartan Stadium Saturday to conclude the third week of spring practice.

The two-and-a-half hour workout featured a 75-play "controlled" scrimmage plus five periods dedicated to special situations, including second-and-long, red area, goal line, coming out of the end zone and two-minute drill. In addition, the Spartans worked on all phases of the kicking game.

Tailbacks Lloyd Clemons, Sedrick Irvin and Billy Greene combined for 339 yards rushing. Clemons led the ground attack with 205 yards on 17 carries, including touchdown runs of 4, 49, 18 and 74 yards. Irvin picked up 78 yards on eight rushes while Greene added 56 yards on 21 attempts, including a 1-yard TD dive on third-and-goal. Clemons and Greene weren't the only tailbacks to reach the end zone as Marcus Worsley raced 59 yards for a TD against the No. 3 defense.

"We ran the ball a lot better today than we did last week," Saban said. "The offensive line has matured some and I'm pleased with their development. The tailbacks ran the ball well. Sedrick Irvin is a proven commodity but Clemons and Greene showed signs of being able to contribute at that position.

"Overall, I'm pleased with the offense's improvement. We practiced a lot of special situations today and the offense fared a lot better this week than last."

No. 1 quarterback Bill Burke completed 10-of-14 passes for 119 yards with no interceptions. Sam Eyde (eight-of-20 for 96 yards) and Ralph Truitt (four-of-10 for 43 yards) shared time running the No. 2 offense.

Plaxico Burress caught five passes for 106 yards, including a 42-yarder from Burke. Brandon Hughes led the second unit with four receptions for 59 yards.

No fewer than five potential starters on defense sat out the scrimmage, either with injuries or for disciplinary reasons.

"I was disappointed in the level of execution on defense," Saban said. "Some of the players were on the field too long and they simply didn't have the ability to sustain. With a number of guys sidelined, we did get an opportunity to evaluate some young players which will be a plus later on down the road."

Outside linebackers Courtney Ledyard and Shawn Wright produced big plays for the defense. Ledyard recorded four tackles for losses (22 yards), including three sacks (16 yards), while Wright had an interception to go along with a tackle for loss (12 yards).

Michigan State has practices scheduled for Monday and Wednesday next week before concluding spring drills with the annual Green-White intrasquad game Saturday, April 25 at 1 p.m. in Spartan Stadium. Admission is free.

"We need to finish spring practice with a productive week of work," Saban said. "There have been plenty of positive signs this spring but we still have a long way to go."