Burress Scores 3 TDs in Spring Game
Saban sees good things on both sides of the ball.
April 25, 1998
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State wide receiver Plaxico Burress caught 13 passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Green, or first team, to a 35-7 victory over the White Saturday in the annual spring intrasquad game. Burress, who was named the Green team's most valuable offensive player, thrilled the crowd of 12,350 in Spartan Stadium with his spectacular catches.
"The tempo improved as the game went along," Spartan head coach Nick Saban said. "I saw some good things on both sides of the football today. We have a lot of work to do before the season opener but we have enough players to be a good football team.
"We made good progress this spring. We have a lot of work left to do because our standards will be higher again this fall."
The White team got its only points off a Green turnover late in the first quarter. Shawn Wright's 20-yard interception return to the Green 11 set up Bill Greene's 1-yard TD run with 5:26 left in the first quarter.
The Green team reeled off the next 35 points. Sedrick Irvin capped a 10-play, 60-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown plunge to tie the game at 7-7. Late in the first half, T.J. Turner intercepted Ralph Truitt and returned it 35 yards to the White 26. Five plays later, Bill Burke hit Burress with a 15-yard TD pass to give the Green a 14-7 halftime lead.
The Green team took control late in the third quarter as Burke directed a seven-play, 86-yard drive with Lloyd Clemons scoring on a 1-yard dive. The key play on the drive was a 46-yard pass from Burke to Burress.
Burke hit Burress for another score on a 28-yard fade pattern with 4:45 left in the fourth quarter. As time expired, Burress caught a 32-yard TD toss as he outjumped four defenders on the Hail Mary pass.
"Plaxico Burress is a big-play receiver," Saban said. "He's a big guy (6-6, 219) with speed who's difficult to cover."
Burke completed 24-of-38 passes for 325 yards and three touchdowns but was intercepted four times.
"Bill Burke was a little tentative today but as the game went on, he played with more poise and confidence," Saban said.
Irvin and Clemons combined for 102 yards rushing on 25 carries to pace the Green ground attack.
"Sedrick Irvin looked good running the football," Saban said, "but the offensive line tired early. I'm not too concerned though, because I don't think it's a conditioning problem."
The Green defense recorded five sacks and held the White to minus-28 yards rushing. Green defensive MVP Courtney Ledyard had nine tackles, including one for a loss (3 yards).
The Green team outgained the White, 456-97, total yards.
Greene accounted for 38 all-purpose yards to earn offensive MVP honors for the White team. Sam Eyde took the majority of snaps for the White squad and completed eight-of-12 passes for 99 yards. Eyde's top target was tight end Kyle Rance, who had four catches for 62 yards.
Converted quarterback Lorenzo Guess earned the White team's defensive MVP award with six tackles and two interceptions from his free safety position.
"Lorenzo Guess demonstrated a nose for the football," Saban said. "If he gets bigger and continues to improve, he'll be a good player."
Michigan State opens the 1998 season at home Saturday, Aug. 29 against Colorado State in the second annual Black Coaches Association Football Classic. The first-ever meeting between these schools will be televised live by ESPN2 at 4 p.m. EDT.
1998 Michigan State Spring Game Recap
Score by Quarters White 7 0 0 0 -- 7 Green 0 14 7 14 -- 35
First Quarter White - Greene 1 run (Edinger kick), 5:26
Second Quarter Green - Irvin 1 run (Edinger kick), 14:57 Green - Burress 15 pass from Burke (Edinger kick), 1:04
Third Quarter Green - Clemons 1 run (Edinger kick), 2:27
Fourth Quarter Green - Burress 28 pass from Burke (Edinger kick), 4:45 Green - Burress 32 pass from Burke (Edinger kick), 0:00
Final Individual Statistics Rushing White: Greene 13-21, Suggs 2-1, Walker 1-0, Truitt 1-(-10), Eyde 5-(-40). Green: Clemons 15-56, Irvin 10-46, McFadden 3-25, Burke 3-4.
Passing White: Eyde 12-8-1 99, Truitt 7-3-1 26. Green: Burke 38-24-4 325.
Receiving White: Rance 4-62, Greene 4-15, Haygood 1-37, Baker 1-8, Ayers 1-3. Green: Burress 13-198, McFadden 3-18, Clemons 2-30, Rainko 2-28, Irvin 2-13, McCoy 1-31, Haygood 1-7.