EAST LANSING, Mich. - Following a week of practice, the Michigan State football team is preparing for the first scrimmage of preseason camp on Saturday.
Under sunny skies and temperatures in the high-70s, the Spartans held their seventh practice of camp on Friday at the John and Becky Duffey Practice Field. Before the workout, head coach Mark Dantonio met with the media to give an update on the team.
"We'll probably play our (starters) about 50 snaps or so," said Dantonio about tomorrow's scrimmage. "I think it's important that they get in game shape. I think we've got to play ourselves into the situation where we can put together strings of plays. I think that's the thing you have to be able to do, especially early in the year.
"We'll definitely try to make it as game-like as we can. As I told our young players, this week will define whether you're going to play this year or not for the most part. You've got to be able to adapt to the system. They've had a week of practice to be able to learn a little bit, we'll see how successful they can be."
A report from Saturday's scrimmage, including quotes, statistics and a brief recap, will be available at msuspartans.com.
MEET THE SPARTANS SET FOR TUESDAY, AUG. 12 AT SPARTAN STADIUM: Michigan State football fans of all ages are invited to attend the 12th-annual "Meet The Spartans," presented by Pepsi, on Tuesday, Aug. 12 from 5-8 p.m. in Spartan Stadium. Eighth-year Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonioand members of the 2014 football team will be available for autographs on the south concourse inside the stadium.
Parking is free (in Lots 79 and 62W), and the stadium gates (Gates B and C) open at 4:30 p.m. Admission is free.
The format is similar to last year, as offensive players will be available for autographs from approximately 5:30-6:30 p.m. and defensive players from approximately 6:30-7:30 p.m. Dantonio will be available for autographs from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Due to time constraints, fans are limited to one autographed item per person, and requests for photos with players and/or Coach Dantonio cannot be accommodated.
The MSU cheerleaders and dance team will help distribute free schedule posters. Children also will have the opportunity to meet Sparty and pose for photos with the popular mascot.
Fans also will have the chance to visit the playing field; take photos wearing a Spartan helmet, shoulder pads and jersey; tour the press box; and describe a memorable moment as the play-by-play announcer for the Spartan Sports Network. The 2013 Big Ten Championship and 2014 Rose Bowl Championship trophies will be on display near the Rose Bowl plaque on the west side of Spartan Stadium.
At nearby Ralph Young Field, there will be a punt-pass-snap-kick competition and Zeke the Wonderdog will also be performing.
The Spartan Sideline Shop will open at 4 p.m. for merchandise and apparel sales. Fans also will have an opportunity to purchase $5 wristbands from concessions to sample "A Taste of Spartan Stadium," including the popular chicken and waffles. In addition, the Spartan Ticket Office, located at Gate G, will be open, with $308 season tickets as well as single-game tickets to Jacksonville State, Eastern Michigan, Wyoming and Rutgers.
Fans are encouraged to use the hashtag #MeetTheSpartans during the event while using social media outlets, including MSU's official athletics Twitter account (@MSU_Athletics) and football account (@MSU_Football). Fans can also follow on Facebook (MSUAthletics) and Instagram (MSU_Spartans).
Below are additional quotes from Dantonio, along with co-offensive coordinator Dave Warner.
Head Coach Mark Dantonio
On freshman defensive back Montae Nicholson ...
"He's playing corner for us. He's No. 2 corner for us, so he's made that transition. He's a big-bodied guy, has great ball skills, and can really run as you know. But again, it's can he sustain and put the plays together and that's the thing you have to be able to do. He's been playing against our No. 1 receivers and been very successful at times."
On QB Connor Cook and the offense ...
"This year compared to last year at the quarterback position, it's established who our quarterback is. He's done an outstanding job in camp and you can see the difference. He's very confident and he's in control of the offense."
On fall position battles ...
"We're going to get our linebacker situation squared up. Taiwan Jones has played much better this fall camp thus far. Our wide receiver situation might be the most competitive situation out there."
On freshman players who could make an impact ...
"It's an outstanding group. Malik (McDowell) is working a lot with the 2's. Montez Sweat is going to work a lot with the 2's. (Madre) London's a guy that's going to be in the mix. We'll see how that shakes out."
On his impressions of the Spartan defense ...
"I think we're coming. You can see leadership and we're playing fast."
Co-Offensive Coordinator/Running Backs Coach Dave Warner
On offensive depth chart ...
"There's a lot of quality players there and a lot of depth. The scrimmage is going to tell us a lot. It's important for a lot of guys."
On potential breakout receivers ...
"I think (AJ) Troup has shown, if he stays healthy, that he can be a big-time player. Tres Barksdale has played well. (Aaron) Burbridge has really stood out through the first week. I think he's playing faster because I think he feels more comfortable knowing the offense."
On the tight ends ...
"Josiah Price is playing very well. He can block and run and he's got great hands. (Jamal) Lyles, now that he's learned the offense, he can stretch the defense with his speed. (Andrew) Gleichert's been playing well and (Paul) Lang's had a great camp."