Aug. 10, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Under partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low-70s, the Michigan State football team held its first jersey scrimmage of preseason camp on Saturday in Spartan Stadium. Utilizing a modified scoring system, the defense defeated the offense, 28-22, in a "situational" scrimmage.
The Spartans ran 143 total plays in the two-hour, 15-minute scrimmage, including special teams.
Although the defense came away with the victory, four Spartan quarterbacks combined to complete 37-of-55 passes for 479 yards and four touchdowns. Senior Andrew Maxwell completed 13-of-21 throws for 171 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown to Macgarrett Kings Jr., while sophomore Connor Cook also completed 13 passes on 18 attempts for 133 yards.
Red-shirt freshman Tyler O'Connor threw two touchdowns to senior wideout Bennie Fowler and finished the scrimmage 7-of-9 passing for 74 yards. Damion Terry, playing primarily against the freshman defense, completed 4-of-7 throws for 101 yards, including a 67-yard scoring strike to Matt Macksood.
Fowler tied for the team lead with five catches for 65 yards, including touchdown receptions of 12 and 17 yards from O'Connor. Sophomore Andre Sims Jr. also had five catches for 60 yards. Junior Aaron Burbridge hauled in four receptions for 24 yards and Kings had three catches for 29 yards.
Four Spartan running backs (Nick Hill, Gerald Holmes, Jeremy Langford and Delton Williams) had at least seven carries apiece. Playing against the twos and threes, Holmes compiled 55 yards on seven carries, including runs of 25 and 15 yards. Against the ones, Langford had 31 rushes on eight attempts, including a 1-yard touchdown run.
Defensively, junior linebacker Taiwan Jones tied for the team lead with six tackles, with two for losses (8 yards) including a 6-yard sack. He also scooped up a fumble and ran it back 14 yards for a touchdown.
Red-shirt freshman defensive end Jamal Lyles collected two tackles for loss (14 yards), including a 12-yard sack, while junior defensive end Shilique Calhoun had three tackles and a 9-yard sack. Red-shirt freshman safety Demetrious Cox, junior safety Kurtis Drummond and senior linebacker Jairus Jones each tallied five tackles.
On special teams, freshman kicker Michael Geiger was impressive in his first scrimmage, connecting on 7-of-8 field-goal attempts, including two 48-yarders. Red-shirt freshman Kevin Cronin was 2-of-3 in field-goal attempts with a long of 47 yards.
The offense scored a touchdown on its second series of the scrimmage, driving the ball from its own 25-yard line on 11 plays. O'Connor led the way at quarterback, completing all five of his pass attempts for 45 yards. Hill capped the drive with a 2-yard TD run.
The defense bounced back by forcing punts on the next two series, but Terry, on his first drive at quarterback, threw a 67-yard touchdown pass to Macksood.
The Spartans worked on third-down situations and field goals during the middle portion of the scrimmage. In addition to the kickers making 9-of-11 field goals during this stretch, the offense scored two touchdowns, as O'Connor threw back-to-back third-down touchdowns of 12 and 17 yards to Fowler.
In the first series following the third-down situations, Maxwell led the offense on a 9-play, 58-yard scoring drive, capped by a 1-yard TD run by Langford. Maxwell was 3-of-3 passing on the drive for 47 yards, including a 16-yard toss to Burbridge that gave the offense first-and-goal from the 1.
The defense scored a touchdown of its own on the following series, as Taiwan Jones picked up a fumble at the 14-yard line and easily ran it in for the score.
The offense threatened to score two series later, as Cook marched the Spartans 50 yards on 9 plays all the way to the 1-yard line. But on third-and-goal, a bad snap forced the offense to settle on a 30-yard Geiger field goal.
During red zone situations, the offense scored its final touchdown of the scrimmage as Maxwell found Kings for a 19-yard touchdown.
Following two series that featured the freshmen, the offense scored its final points of the day on a 48-yard field goal by Geiger, which was set up by a 40-yard pass from Cook to junior tight end Andrew Gleichert.
The defense closed the scrimmage with three consecutive stops to seal the victory, 28-22.
Michigan State will return for its 10th practice of preseason camp on Sunday afternoon. BTN will be on hand at practice for its annual tour stop; the preview show on the Spartans will air Saturday, Aug. 17 at 8 p.m.
First Preseason Scrimmage Recap
Time elapsed: 2:15 (143 total plays)
Passing: Andrew Maxwell 13-of-21 for 171 yards and one touchdown (19 yards to Macgarrett Kings Jr.); Connor Cook 13-of-18 for 133 yards; Tyler O'Connor 7-of-9 for 74 yards and two touchdowns (12 and 17 yards to Bennie Fowler); Damion Terry 4-of-7 for 101 yards and one touchdown (67 yards to Matt Macksood).
Defense (solos-assists-total): Marcus Rush 6-0-6 including two sacks (11 yards); Taiwan Jones 4-2-6 including two tackles for loss (8 yards), a 6-yard sack and a 14-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown; Darien Harris 4-2-6; Demetrious Cox 3-2-5; Drummond 4-1-5 including a 2-yard loss; Jairus Jones 1-4-5; Darqueze Dennard 2-2-4.
Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio:
"We got a lot of plays in. We went almost 120 plays from scrimmage, so that's a positive thing. Offensively, we beat ourselves with a costly turnover, some negative plays and unforced penalties.
"I thought the defense played well. They applied pressure (on the quarterbacks) and tackled pretty well. Offensively, we did some good things and had some big plays, but you can't beat yourself. We simply had too many unforced penalties, negative plays and a turnover. Offensively, we've got to clean some things up. I'm happy with the effort.
Delton Williams played pretty well. Gerald Holmes has to hit the hole a little quicker, but these freshmen have to grow up fast out here. I thought Jeremy Langford and(Nick Hill did some good things as well.
Bennie Fowler caught the ball pretty well and made some nice runs after the catch. He also showed leadership out there in the huddle. I liked the way he was talking to the guys.
"Without watching the video, you've got to look at Michael Geiger as the bright spot of the scrimmage. He hit a 50-yarder (officially two 48-yarders). Michael had one bounce off the upright but other than that he was perfect, and they weren't chip shots. Right now, he's in the lead for that position.
"A week into camp, fatigue sets in, but I've got news for everybody; we're going to go tomorrow. That's part of summer camp. Offensively, we have to eliminate some of the things that happened today. We're talking about cleaning up some basic things. When it's second-and-5, you can't jump offsides and make it second-and-10. You can't fumble the football when you're at the 1-yard line going in and take seven points off the board and settle for a field goal. Those types of things just can't happen. Our defense plays a part with its pressure and intensity, and we expect our defense to be pretty good again. Offensively, we have to take care of the football and eliminate the unforced errors."