Aug. 10, 2009
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The 2009 Spartan football team opened preseason practice Monday afternoon on the Duffy Daugherty Practice Fields under partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 80s. Prior to practice, third-year head coach Mark Dantonio met with the media and talked about the quarterback competition, the true freshmen, and his goals for the first day of practice.
Coach Dantonio excerpts:
"We are very excited to be back for 2009. The guys came into camp ready, and I thought they did a nice job today running. Our first practice today is a shorts practice. A lot of things will go on out there today, so it will be an interesting day for us."
On what he wants to accomplish on the first day...
"We'll work on our base stuff. I'm sure there will be some new wrinkles to be had that I won't go into right now, but with this being the first day of shorts practice, we'll stay with base things. We'll get our guys back into condition and used to timing, that's the biggest thing. I think offensively you look at our quarterbacks and our wide receivers, it's timing. (It's also) the perimeter people on defense and making different checks and playing together while being on the same page."
On the true freshmen...
"We want to teach our young players. We want to see where our true freshmen are in the grand scheme of things as far as the learning curve. We have a scrimmage next week, so we'll try and get them up to speed so we have a chance to see what they can legitimately do.
"You have to coach the young players up, and we also have to get our two freshmen running backs (Edwin Baker and Larry Caper) reps. When we call for 3's out there, our 3's will be our freshmen football team. We have to give them reps at maybe the expense of them not knowing what to do and making some mistakes, but that's really the only way they're going to learn. By doing that, we'll be able to evaluate them."
On the quarterback competition between Kirk Cousins and Keith Nichol...
"Guys will have good days, then guys will have average days, so we'll evaluate that over a period of time. I've said all along we need to provide them an opportunity to grow, and they're young players. Anything we can do to help their ability to grow, we're going to do that, and I think that means to put them into as many pressure situations as we can."
On Cousins and Nichol splitting time with the No. 1 offense...
"We'll try and split them up right down the middle and give them a day of emphasis, where one guy goes No. 1 but they split the team reps equally. And then the next day, the other guy is No. 1 but the team reps are equal. We'll get a good evaluation on those guys. It's the ability to take a bad play and make it a good one and create. It's the ability to run the offense, and also understanding leadership in the huddle - it's so many different things other than just throwing the football."
During Coach Dantonio's media briefing, he discussed the status of running back Glenn Winston. Below is a statement from Michigan State Athletics Director Mark Hollis and Coach Dantonio regarding Winston.
MSU Athletics Director Mark Hollis:
"I support Mark Dantonio's request to reinstate Glenn Winston. Glenn has much work to do; however, the Athletics Department will not turn its back on this young man. I am supportive of all student-athletes that are part of our program.
"We will move forward and continue to support A.J. Sturges and Glenn with all the resources available to us."
MSU head football coach Mark Dantonio:
"We appreciate Athletic Director Mark Hollis' support in reinstating Glenn Winston. Glenn has done everything that he's been asked to do, from a judicial and a team standpoint. He has paid the penalty for his actions - publicly, legally and athletically - and he worked hard to maintain his academic eligibility while doing so. We regret the entire incident; however, at this time, it is important that we support Glenn socially, academically and athletically. He still has a lot of work to do."