EAST LANSING, Mich. - The "groundhog day" feel of preseason camp will get a lift on Friday as the Michigan State football team will hold its second jersey scrimmage.
Prior to Thursday's practice, which was conducted under partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the high-60s, Spartan head coach Mark Dantonio gave an update on the team to reporters. Several players also spoke to the media after practice.
"In terms of being in summer camp and being able to maintain our strength, we've been able to do that," said Dantonio. "I think we've remained fresh as well. We're going long and hard when we go, and when we step away from it, we're preparing, whether it's film, walk-throughs, strength training, or those type of things. I think it's been good for our program thus far."
The Spartans took a break from football on Wednesday afternoon, as the team spent time at the I.M. West pool on campus and also played in a cornhole tournament.
"When you're doing this over and over and over, anything you can do to create something a little different for them is a positive," said Dantonio. "I think we had a good time over there."
But it was back to work on Thursday morning as the team prepared for Friday's second scrimmage.
"We're far ahead of where we were offensively at this time last year," Dantonio said, as the offense won the first scrimmage, 47-30. "Guys have progressed and our quarterbacks are playing very well. On the defensive side of the ball, we're playing a lot of guys and I think we're playing well up front. But I want us to be able to play hard, be confident, and handle tough situations."
"Honestly, I think the defense started a little slow last week, but going into this week and now the second scrimmage, we're really picking it up and we're really doing some things well," said sophomore linebacker Riley Bullough. "Hopefully that carries into tomorrow's scrimmage and on into the rest of camp."
It's hard to look at the big picture in the middle of preseason camp, but Dantonio said his team is motivated for the challenges that the new season provides.
"Every year is a new year," he remarked. "You can't be stagnant. Every year has new possibilities, new dreams, new people, new leadership...You look forward to the opening game and the new season and what you can accomplish.
"I think in athletics you're always motivated by the next challenge. You're either moving forward or you're moving backward. We need to be at our best as we go into these challenges. It's all about handling success and I hope that we're building our program in that way, and that we're not looking back and saying `OK, we've done that, we're done.' I don't think you're ever finished - you're always moving forward."
HICKS GAINING NOTICE: Fifth-year senior linebacker Mylan Hicks was mentioned today by Dantonio as someone who is standing out among the linebackers. Hicks had six tackles, including a sack, in the first scrimmage. He moved from safety to linebacker last season.
"You notice him," said Dantonio. "You notice him running, you notice him moving, you notice is leadership out there as well. There's always somebody in camp who catches your eye...He's been dinged up a little bit throughout his time here. He's a guy that I think is going to have a presence as a situational guy."
As far as the starting linebackers, Dantonio said nothing is etched in stone yet, but he's been impressed with Taiwan Jones' improvement from the spring in the middle. He also cited Riley Bullough and Jon Reschke as having good summer camps to this point.
IZZO GETS ICED: Following Thursday's practice, MSU men's basketball head coach Tom Izzo not only addressed the team, but he also got a bucket of ice dumped on him by Connor Cook and Shilique Calhoun as part of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge campaign, which is raising money and awareness to fight the disease.
The campaign calls for a person to get a bucket of ice water poured over their head and then challenging others to do the same or make a donation to fight ALS with 24 hours.
According to ALSA.org, between July 29 and Aug. 12 the ALS Association and its 38 chapters have received $4 million in donations compared to $1.12 during the same time period last year.
Izzo said he is challenging his longtime friend and current NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci.