Aug. 12, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The BTN Football Tour hit East Lansing Sunday afternoon on its fifth stop to shoot footage and interviews for a 30-minute preview special on the Spartans which will debut Saturday, Aug. 17 at 8 p.m.
Hosted by Dave Revsine, Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith, the "Big Ten Football Preview" provides on-the-field analysis of each team's top newcomers, rising stars, important position battles and 2013 schedule.
The show gives an inside look at a Spartan practice and also includes interviews with head coach Mark Dantonio, assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, co-offensive coordinator Dave Warner, and senior linebacker Max Bullough. In addition, BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart caught up with sophomore quarterback Connor Cook, senior cornerback Darqueze Dennard, senior safety Isaiah Lewis, senior quarterback Andrew Maxwell and junior defensive end Marcus Rush.
"I thought they got a ton done when you consider they had a 140-play scrimmage yesterday," said DiNardo. "They came out in full pads. I told Coach Dantonio, I was afraid you were going to be in shorts and t-shirts. Obviously, we've seen more physical practices and longer practices, but I don't think we've seen a better practice after a 140-play scrimmage.
"The things that I got answered were in the spring, it looked like (Michigan State) was further away at running back than wide receiver, and today it just looked like it's all coming together. (Michigan State) certainly has enough talent at those positions, they just have to show up and they just have to play. The difference for me from the spring to today is really the wide receivers and the running backs."
"To me, one of the biggest questions was what was going to go on with the offense," Griffith said of what he was looking for at practice. "I saw them in the spring, and they've definitely made strides. The wide receivers I think have gotten so much better. You can see that the hard work that they've put in during the offseason is there. They look like they have more confidence going up after the football. I was impressed what I saw from an offensive standpoint and where they're going."
DiNardo and Griffith also saw good things from the Spartan defense, which has led the Big Ten and ranked in the top 10 in the nation the past two seasons in total defense.
"I saw the best group of linebackers we've seen; today is our fifth stop," DiNardo said. "I saw a deeper Michigan State defense than I've ever seen. It's always been talented, but it just seemed like there were more players and deeper. Max Bullough made an interesting comment, which I'm sure is not a surprise, but staff continuity has allowed the team to play fast, they're not changing schemes, they know what they're doing, and I think that really comes through when you watch the defensive coaches work."
"It's really just a matter of how much better can they get," said Griffith. "They're so athletic, they're so talented, particularly in the safety and corner positions. The back end has so much ability. (Defensive end Shilique) Calhoun looks like he's really set to have a big year. So the defense is going to keep them in a lot of games. I think it's a matter of continuing to get better there, and offensively, when they get into the red zone, being able to score points."
The Spartans will return to the practice field for a two-a-day session Monday, beginning at 10 a.m.