Aug. 9, 2013
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 mid-70s, the Spartans held their eighth practice of camp on Friday on the outdoor practice fields behind the Duffy Daugherty Football Building. Before the workout, head coach Mark Dantonio met with the media to give an update on the team.
"I'm pleased with the retention of our players, the attitude, and the way we continue to come together as people," said Dantonio. "There's a lot of good execution. I think the wide receivers are catching the ball very well. I see a lot of good things from young players. The progress is good going forward.
"We scrimmage tomorrow. The thing you always want to see get better is that you want to see better execution in all aspects, whether it's defense, you don't like to see a coverage blow, a missed block, or a turnover of any type. When you see those sorts of things, they tend to rattle you a little bit."
Although Dantonio likes what he's seen from practice thus far, Saturday will be a telling day for a lot of the position battles on the team.
"I want to see guys stay up on their feet, from a defensive perspective, tackle very well, get off blocks, and play the ball in the air," remarked the seventh-year head coach. "Offensively, I want to see execution and few turnovers. (I want to) see the tailback situation, who's running well, breaking tackles, running through the smoke. You've got to look at the quarterbacks to see who's going to be accurate, how are they creating, what kind of decisions they're making. Then, you've got a tight end situation to watch. So you've got quite a few guys to watch and try to make decisions on. Our wide receivers are deep as well."
Dantonio also stressed that no matter what happens during the scrimmage, it's just the first week, and there's plenty of more work to be done during preseason camp.
"I'm never totally pleased," he said of how he feels in August. "I don't think any coach in the summer is going to be totally pleased. I'm excited. I'm excited about our attitude and the way we've gone about our business. I'm excited about our effort. You don't want to see any mistakes. You're constantly trying to hit all the situations and all the different things that you have.
"So there's going to be mistakes and things that you have to go back through. We're always striving for excellence, so I'm excited about it, but the job is not finished."
DELANY VISITS MICHIGAN STATE: Jim Delany, who is celebrating his 25th year as commissioner of the Big Ten Conference, is traveling to each of the 12 Big Ten schools in the month of August and visited East Lansing on Friday. Delany talked with Dantonio, spoke to the team, and watched a portion of practice. Dantonio presented Delany a game ball commemorating his 25 years as Big Ten Commissioner.
"I made this tour my first year in the Big Ten, so I thought it would be appropriate to re-visit it," said Delany. "It's remarkable the organization of the teams, the energy of the teams, and the commitment that the players and coaches make to put a successful team out onto the field. The facilities are fabulous. And of course, these kids are getting ready to go to school too, so they've got a double burden, both academic as well as athletic.
"My message to the team was that you play for yourself, your friends, your team, your family, and for your institution as well. It's an opportunity and a privilege to play football at Michigan State. Michigan State is a great institution and has had great athletic teams over the years. They really have accomplished a lot, and I know they would like to accomplish more. I know they'll work hard at it - I wish them well."
BTN TOUR STOP: BTN will make its annual tour stop to East Lansing on Sunday. For the seventh straight year, Dave Revsine, Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith will cruise through Big Ten country to bring fans a 30-minute, on-site preview show from every Big Ten campus on the Big Ten Football Preview Tour, presented by Culligan. The BTN crew will travel more than 3,000 miles in a customized chartered bus branded with the BTN logo. All shows can also be seen on BTN2Go.
Michigan State's preview show, which will include interviews with head coach Mark Dantonio and several players, will air on Saturday, Aug. 17 at 8 p.m.
Fans can also virtually jump on the bus via Twitter by following @BigTenNetwork, @BTNDaveRevsine, @HowardGriffith, @gerrydinardo and @BTNTomDienhart from the road. Dienhart, BTN.com's Senior Writer, will also be providing daily stories from the tour at BTN.com/tour. Fans can also ride along with the crew by following Big Ten Network on Instagram.
BTN's preseason football coverage continues with two, hour-long Big Ten Football Preview shows. The first show will highlight the Legends Division on Tuesday, Aug. 27, followed by the Leaders Division Preview Show on Wednesday, Aug. 28. Both shows will air at 7 p.m. with a bonus airing each night at 9 p.m.
QUOTABLE: Below are additional quotes from Dantonio's briefing with reporters on Friday.
On freshman linebacker Jon Reschke...
Jon's working with the twos, threes. So he'll work with the threes and do some work with the twos. We've tried to push our freshmen a little bit to try and get them on film so we can evaluate them. I think it'll be an important scrimmage for those guys tomorrow because we need to see what they can do and if they can get themselves in a position to where they're on the field playing, whether that's special teams or a more competitive environment.
On preparing for the season...
We try and pace them. Right now, this is our seventh day, our eighth practice, we had a two-a-day yesterday so the legs are starting to get tired. We've got to get our legs back before we play. We want to be in fast mode when we hit that Friday in August.
On junior safety Kurtis Drummond...
He's got a lot of retention. He's played a lot of football; he's a smart football player. Again, we're going to tackle tomorrow. We've tackled, but we haven't gone a hundred plays of tackling. We sort of systematically say, ok, that's 16 and that kind of stuff. He's a good football player.
I think he's solid, but it's always going to depend on how people play in the scrimmage and we'll try and play our best players as always. I think R.J. (Williamson) is having a good camp as well. Demetrious Cox is another guy that factors into it, another talented guy, young and hasn't played yet.
On red-shirt freshman tackle Jack Conklin...
I do feel that he's extremely talented. He can run for his size. It's just `let's pick up' sometimes, you know, those types of things. He doesn't have the game experience so we've got to get game experience as we move forward. Right now, he's a one and a half (at left tackle) or a two plus, however you look at it.
On the kicking situation...
I think (Michael) Geiger's solid. I think (Kevin) Muma has kicked well thus far. I don't know about if Muma's missed yet, but Geiger has been really solid as a freshman. We've got to continue to pressure him. He had an outstanding first three days. He took a step back maybe a day now so he needs to reaccelerate himself in this next scrimmage. We'll have some different situations for him.