Aug. 12, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State football team entered its second week of preseason camp on Monday with a workout in helmets and shells during a one-hour, 45-minute morning practice. The Spartans will return to the field for an evening practice as part of their two-a-day schedule, their second of preseason camp.
Before the morning practice, head coach Mark Dantonio visited with reporters and gave his thoughts on Saturday's scrimmage. The defense won the first jersey scrimmage of preseason camp, 28-22.
"I guess just like everybody, we're in the middle of the grind right now, into the second week," said Dantonio. "Our guys are doing very well.
"The energy was good (during the scrimmage). We went 120 plays and a lot of guys got a lot of plays, so it was a positive thing for us. I think our guys played hard; they always do."
Although Dantonio was pleased with the effort, he also expounded on some of the things he would like to see corrected in the next scrimmage.
"It's the unforced errors," he said on what stood out regarding the offense. "Maybe that's the first scrimmage; we try and put a lot of things in. There's a lot going on in everybody's heads, but when you jump offsides when it's second-and-1, it's frustrating. When you're on the 1-yard line, as we were, we have a mishandled snap, it's frustrating. When you have a missed opportunity to get in and lose the football, so no points come up, and that's what happened. If you take four plays out of it, which you can't, I think the offense did some good things, but you have to look at the whole picture."
In addition to Dantonio, assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi also shared his observations from Saturday's scrimmage following practice.
"It was our third day in pads (on Saturday), and really, the third day of tackling live," said Narduzzi. "I thought our tackling was better than I'd seen in the two previous days. I was a little worried we'd go out there in Spartan Stadium and not tackle as well, so we emphasized it and they really went out and tackled well. The enthusiasm was good and I think we executed pretty well.
"I'm most pleased with recall, coming back in, with what our defenses have been and what we've done," Narduzzi continued on what he's liked the most thus far in preseason camp. "Probably the most impressive thing is the way we've practiced and tried to stay up, just trying to keep people healthy."
Following Monday's two-a-day practice session, the Spartans will have a single day of practice on Tuesday morning.
MEET THE SPARTANS: Michigan State football fans of all ages are invited to attend the 11th-annual "Meet The Spartans," presented by Pepsi, on Tuesday, Aug. 13 from 5-8 p.m. in Spartan Stadium. Seventh-year Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio and members of the 2013 football team will be available for autographs on the south concourse inside the stadium.
Parking is free (in Lots 79 and 62), 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 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 $210 season tickets as well as $25 single-game tickets to the Aug. 30 season opener against Western Michigan on sale.
QUOTABLE: Below are additional quotes from Dantonio and Narduzzi on Monday.
Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio
On the quarterbacks' scrimmage performance...
I think all of our quarterbacks, all three of those guys (Andrew Maxwell, Connor Cook, Tyler O'Connor), played ok. However, they made one critical error each that led to a touchdown and you can't do that. Otherwise, they played pretty well. I thought (Andrew) Maxwell, with his feet, did ok. We did not make the quarterbacks live so we tried to do the best we can with that. I think we need to continue to force that issue with all of our guys. It remains to be seen as we get to game day, but they've got to step up in the pocket, got to do the things you have to do, and got to make plays when you have the chance to make them.
On red-shirt freshman quarterback Tyler O'Connor...
He started the scrimmage very fast. He did very well the first part of the scrimmage, but then he had an error, a couple, still some of the things that are redshirt freshman-type errors. Whether that's play calling, it's things that he can control. He can make plays. He's got a strong arm. He's got good running ability down the field. So, there are a lot of positives.
On if the starting position at quarterback can still be earned...
Well, that's why we have camp. We're always going to look at camp and make sure that guys who have experience, the guys who've been there before, are still playing to that level. So, no, I don't think you can go in and say, this guy's our guy, with anybody. You know, Darqueze Dennard, if he comes out and has seven bad practices; he's not going to be the starting corner. I think that's just the message we need to send to our players, it's about work every day.
On junior running back Jeremy Langford...
I think Jeremy's had a good summer camp thus far. He's always been extremely quick, fast and explosive. What has impressed me is that he's running behind his pads and he's breaking tackles. That's the positive thing.
Assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi
On who stood out of the back seven...
There's guys back there that can play. When you've got Darqueze Dennard and Trae Waynes, who have played in a bowl game, playing in the spring already and who've shown that they're top level, I think that whole secondary, Kurtis Drummond and Isaiah Lewis, those are two good safeties. Then you add in the mix with R.J. (Williamson) and Demetrius Cox, you've got pretty good depth with the safeties. We're still looking for those corners, you know, to make some plays. (Jermaine) Edmondson has done some good things, Ezra Robinson has done some good things and Darian Hicks has done some good things.
On who stood out at the scrimmage...
Up front, Shilique Calhoun, Marcus Rush, Joel Heath had a very good scrimmage and, of course, Denzel Drone, all four of those guys played well. When you look inside, we've got a battle going on. Inside, Tyler Hoover looked good, (Mark) Scarpinato, and Micajah Reynolds are in a battle for that nose spot. Scarpinato's pushing them hard right now. So, those three are the top three tackles right now...Inside, Damon Knox also emerged. He had a good scrimmage and he had even a better practice yesterday.
On his advice to new members of the defense...
Our freshmen have done a good job of just slowly taking that next step. I think the first day we were out there it looked like a sieve, everything was running through it. We were like, what are you guys doing? We watched tape and then they come out and were pretty solid the other day. What we're trying to get those freshmen to do is come out and just play fast. We don't run a lot of different defenses with them. We line up and run two defenses with them. We're trying to get them to execute that, know all the little adjustments and what they have to do to get them really playing with technique because if they can't basic, they can't play anything. So, they're not running the same defense that everybody else is. They're running this and this and that's it. We're trying to get them to just play fast.
On Micajah Reynolds...
Micajah's had a good camp. (Mark) Scarpinato's got a motor and he's really getting after it. I think Micajah's had a good camp and it's good to see Scarpinato pushing him. We've kind of moved them up next to each other in the depth chart and let them battle it out.
On Damon Knox...
Knox had a good scrimmage and a great day yesterday, showing some explosion. I just hadn't seen that quick twitch like I saw yesterday, maybe it was the Big Ten Network cameras. I just saw some explosion off the ball yesterday that I just didn't see in the past so it's good to see and we're trying to keep him healthy too.
On Joel Heath...
Joel had a very good scrimmage, maybe one of his best scrimmages here as a Spartan. He's dedicated and he's doing a great job.
On who might be second string at defensive end...
Right now, Denzel Drone has had a great camp and I consider him a starter. He looks good. He's slimmed down; I don't know what he's weighing right now. I really don't care; it's just the way he's moving. He's locked in and focused.