Preseason Camp Update: Spartans Practice in Full Pads for First Time
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- The calendar reads early August, but the undertones of fall football weather were in the air on Friday as the Michigan State football team wore full pads for the first time during preseason camp. With a steady breeze, cloudy skies, and temperatures in the mid-60s, the Spartans practiced for two-and-a-half hours at the John and Becky Duffey Practice Fields behind the Duffy Daugherty Building.
Following the workout, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio gave an update on the team to the media.
"We've got to look at the film and see what we got done, but I thought our offense had a good day," said Dantonio. "It goes in spurts out here. Winning and losing usually hangs by a thread."
Dantonio also congratulated former Spartan All-American Morten Andersen for his upcoming induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and said he would be attending the enshrinement ceremony Saturday night in Canton, Ohio.
"I want to congratulate Morten Andersen on being inducted into the Hall of Fame," Dantonio remarked. "He's one of three specialists, I mean pure specialists, to ever have been able to do that, so I want to congratulate him publicly. I'm excited. I'm going to go to that tomorrow evening and that will be an exciting event to be at."
The Spartans will hold their sixth practice of preseason camp on Saturday before taking the day off on Sunday. MSU will resume practice Monday morning before hosting media day in the afternoon.
The following is a transcript from Friday's post-practice media briefing:
Q. With the defensive line, with Kenny Willekes and Dillon Alexander, two guys who have really played through and did well in the spring, have you seen that transfer over into the fall and how do you like their energy level?
COACH DANTONIO: I think we've got a number of guys at that position so the energy level is very, very good. Since we've got a number of guys at that position, so there's kind of a clump there fighting for position. Brandon Randle is another guy there who is a very good athlete on the edge there. Coop (Demetrius Cooper) is coming back, so we'll see how he's doing. Bowers (Robert Bowers) has got playing experience, Jacub Panasiuk has been impressive for a freshman, a 265-pound freshman that can move, so those type of things are good. I'm probably leaving out somebody but we've got some depth there, but those guys have a motor and they bring it every play.
Q. Do you find yourself trying to dial back some of the enthusiasm on the first day of full pads or pretty much just let them go?
COACH DANTONIO: You know, we really ask for that today, we've got to be enthusiastic out here and have fun, that's a big part of this. I thought last year sometimes we didn't have as much fun, it's tough to reach down sometimes, but you've got to encourage each other and we wanted to make sure we did that, so we're coaching that too, we're coaching everything.
Q. With the offensive line, especially as you get to see them go hat-on-hat, what were you able to see today, or what expectations do you have with that group and how quickly do you want them to gel?
COACH DANTONIO: We've got to win up front, I think there's no question in order to be successful, you've got to win up front on both sides of the ball. Some of that is just raw toughness and raw ability at times, and obviously technique and what we're doing, but we've got some guys up there like Brian Allen with a lot of experience who is a very good player. I think Tyler Higby and David Beedle are two guys with an enormous amount of ability, so they've got to transition to become that full-time starter, take that next step, but I think they're very capable. Cole Chewins is a guy at left tackle that is going to do everything he can possibly do, great attention to detail guy, he's going to be in his second year starting, so I think he's gotten much better. At the right tackle, I think Luke Campbell is a redshirt freshman, but he showed things last year and probably was ready to play last year, but we just held him out.
Q. Any of those true freshmen seem like they're ready?
COACH DANTONIO: That's tough, you're five days into practice, so it's tough but they have the athletic ability and the strength component to be able to do that.
Q. I know it's early, but Josiah Scott played well in the spring, is he picking up where he left off and have you seen what you want from him?
COACH DANTONIO: Yes, I think Josiah is playing well, but again, it's early. I think Justin Layne has also had a very good first five days, but again, it's the first day of pads out here so trying to put them in situations where they have to make plays on the ball with their back to the ball, and things of that nature. We're just trying to put them in adverse situations as much as we can.
Q. How tough is that for a true freshman, not a lot of true freshmen have started out there (at defensive back)?
COACH DANTONIO: No, but he's got a lot of, and if you've talked to him, you'd see that he has a lot of the mental make up that Darqueze Dennard had. He's very mature, he's going to work extremely hard and he's very sure of himself and confident. He has a skill set like that, plus he's been here for six months already so he's sort of a guy that has gone through a spring practice, so he's adjusted.
Q. What about the other three young guys, Tre Person, Emmanuel Flowers and Shakur Brown out here today. COACH DANTONIO: Yes, Shakur Brown we got him out here a day late, so he's one day behind, but he's been impressive as well. I think Tre Person, Dominique Long and Emmanuel Flowers, all four of those guys have come in and done some good things. It's too early to really tell on those guys.
Q. Shakur Brown had some impressive numbers as a special teams player last year and had a lot of awards, would you consider a true freshman back there field punts with that ability.
COACH DANTONIO: Absolutely, I think we've got a good situation right now with Brandon Sowards returning, but we've got to get more productivity out of our punt returner and he's (Brown) is a guy that you see him go back there and catch a punt or off the jugs machine and he's very sure of himself. But again, it's very early in the process here, so we've got to see how he does under duress in that stadium over there with 80,000 people watching him, but I think he has the skill set, and so does Laress Nelson.
Q. At the wideout position, are there any guys that you know will be part of the five or six on the travel roster as I'm sure there's a lot of guys that are battling for that, but are there any two or three young players or returners that you know already that are going to be part of that?
COACH DANTONIO: I think you're going to see Darrell Stewart, Felton Davis and Trishton Jackson as three of the guys, and then you've got Cody White, Brandon Sowards, Hunter Rison and Cam Chambers in there. So we've got guys there, but they're young, they're in their second or their third year but they're young players, but they've got talent, they're talented guys.
Q: What's the kicking situation between the two?
COACH DANTONIO: We're really working all three of those guys (Matt Coghlin and Brett Scanlon), with Cole Hahn working as well. He's getting his feet on the ground. But, all of them have been very good so far.
Q: Joe Bachie talked on Monday about things not being up to snuff just as far as the enthusiasm last year and practices and that he wanted to be a leader but make sure that when he came out for practice everything was up. What does it mean to have a sophomore talking like that?
COACH DANTONIO: Well you've got an opportunity to lead because we have a relatively young football team with not a lot of seniors. So you have opportunity, and you have guys in a position of leadership because he's the Mike linebacker, so he's got the opportunity to lead and he's showing that. I think last year's football team, we came to practice, it's tough when things aren't going so well for you during the season to continue on. Give them a little bit of a hall pass on that one because I think this season we came out here with very high expectations and the attitude is right as well.