Preseason Football Camp Update: Spartans Begin Second Week of Practice
Coach Dantonio provides an update on the Spartans and shares his thoughts on the first scrimmage.
Aug. 15, 2011
Video: Camp Update
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State football team conducted its second two-a-day practice session of preseason camp on Monday.
In the morning, head coach Mark Dantonio provided an update to reporters on the Spartans, while following the first practice, several players met with the media to give their thoughts on preseason camp.
Dantonio talked about the team's first scrimmage on Saturday, which the offense won over the defense, 67-63, utilizing a modified scoring system. He also mentioned the progress of the offensive line and the difference between the first and second week of practice. Perhaps his biggest message to the team on Saturday, however, was playing with more emotion, especially late in the game.
"You want to see consistency in every respect, not just in terms of what we are doing, but in effort, and I think in the first scrimmage you see some guys that ran out of gas a little bit," Dantonio said. "But we can get that fixed, we have good depth and we can handle that...We haven't put them in a situation where they have had to play 12 straight plays and those types of things. That is to come this week, where they have to maintain what they do over a course of a series.
"When your conditioning goes, the emotion usually goes as well. That's what I saw. If there's anything I was disappointed in, it was the conditioning aspect and the emotional aspect as the scrimmage wore on."
Regarding the second week of practice, Dantonio is once again trying to mix things up to take out the monotony of preseason camp.
On Sunday, each position group went out to dinner with their coach, while the seniors went to the golf course and driving range before going to Dantonio's house. The second-annual cornhole tournament - a huge success last season, won by Greg Jones and Chase Parker - returns this week, with the finale set for Sunday. And on Tuesday, the Spartans will head to downtown East Lansing for the annual "Meet the Spartans" event.
"It will be good just to be among people, walk among the living a little bit," Dantonio joked.
"But it is the same thing every day; installation, trying to get better, going back over things, trying to find out, and watch, and do all of the situations that you would normally experience in the game. That takes a little time, but the attitude has been good, the chemistry is good. It's up and down every now and then, but for the most part our guys are motivated."
"It's training camp, so it's the toughest time of the year," said fifth-year senior quarterback Kirk Cousins. "I think that right now, while it is the dog days, we're just going to keep working and keep getting better and understand that if we want to have success on the back end of the season, we have to put in the work on the front end. If we do that, we should have a great season."
Men's basketball head coach Tom Izzo was also in attendance during the morning practice and spoke to the team.
"It's always great to have Tom out here, he's such a great supporter of not just the football program but all of our athletic programs here - and (he's) a great friend," said Dantonio. "We have a fundamental that we talk about every day and today was about faith and belief, and he just talked a little about that."
Following team meetings in the afternoon, MSU went back to the practice field Monday evening.
MORE ON MEET THE SPARTANS: The Spartans return for their 12th practice of preseason camp Tuesday before heading to downtown East Lansing for the ninth-annual "Meet the Spartans," which will be held from 5-7 p.m. Dantonio and members of the 2011 football team will be available for autographs and pictures under tents positioned in parking lots on Albert Avenue, between Abbot Road and MAC Avenue.
The MSU cheerleaders and dance team will help distribute free schedule posters and assist in face painting. Children also will have the opportunity to meet Sparty and pose for photos with the popular mascot. Fans also will have the chance to pose for pictures with MSU's 2010 Big Ten Championship Trophy.
The 2011 "Meet The Spartans" event is sponsored by the Downtown Management Board.
Head Coach Mark Dantonio:
"Second day of two-a-days today, get a chance to get out here after a Sunday practice. We had time yesterday to watch the film, evaluate things, and just sort of take it easy a little bit, still had a practice, a very light practice. The program is moving forward I think.
"I think our guys continue to be motivated, obviously there are things that we need to continue to improve on...because you want to see consistency in every respect, not just in terms of what we are doing, but in effort, and I think in the first scrimmage you see some guys that ran out of gas a little bit. But we can get that fixed, we have good depth and we can handle that."
On differences between the first and second week of practice...
"Well, we have the cornhole tournament this week, so you know it will pick up. But I think it does by nature, you are sort of in those dog days a little bit where you are working constantly and doing things over and over the same way. We have a meet the team tomorrow night, tomorrow evening at 5 p.m. So it will be good just to be among people, walk among the living a little bit, so that will be positive for us.
"But it is the same thing every day; installation, trying to get better, going back over things, trying to find out, and watch, and do all of the situations that you would normally experience in the game. That takes a little time, but the attitude has been good, the chemistry is good, our guys, you know it is up and down every now and then but for the most part our guys are motivated."
On the emotion shown in the scrimmage...
"Well I think in the scrimmage, the defense started very fast, played very well early in the scrimmage, and (then) they tapered off. I thought the offense maybe got handled a little bit early in the scrimmage, but as the scrimmage went on, they got stronger. So when you are sitting in this position, sometimes you sort of come out of it feeling `Well we have to do better at this, we need to do better at that.' But after watching the film what you see is guys getting a little bit tired. We haven't put them in a situation where they have had to play 12 straight plays and those types of things. That is to come this week, where they have to maintain what they do over a course of a series."
On faith and belief...
"Absolutely, we have got to believe in each other. Team stands for togetherness. If we can just continue to be together in everything that we are doing, good or bad, we can learn from things. I think that is the case with any team, organization, corporation or family. You are going to have your up and down times; it is how you move through them together will be the important thing.
"For our seniors, really for all of our team, last night was a day when you took an opportunity to go with your position group and sort of eat out. For the seniors, we went to the golf course and the driving range, had dinner, and then came over to my house. To sit there and look at our guys who came in '07, some in '08 but some of them in '07, to realize they have about six more months in this program is an eye opener, not just for me, but for them as well. We had some guys crushing the ball too; Todd Anderson hit that ball 300-plus yards, amazing. They said they had measured his club swing, the speed of it, and it was 135 mph, a heavy hitter."
On the play of William Gholston...
"William is one of the guys I thought played very well and then sort of faded a little bit to be honest with you. And he needs to be able to play at a more consistent level throughout the scrimmage. But that's normal when you have a long scrimmage, and as the scrimmage goes on, I think you have to condition yourself. It's one thing to run 17 intervals, which we did the other day. It's another thing to come back and play 12, 15 straight plays. It's completely different conditioning."
Progress on the offensive line...
"I thought that there was. I think Skyler's (Burkland) playing pretty well. You see Fou (Fonoti) getting in there with the 2s and learning what's going on. I think Dan France is playing pretty well. It is always a work in progress. The center position, Travis (Jackson) and Blake Treadwell continue to battle that out. We are relatively healthy, we have a couple minor ankles, couple of days out and they will be back. We have maintained our health so far."
On the freshmen linebackers...
"The freshmen, they look like freshmen. They're overloaded on what to do. Ed Davis I thought performed very well in the scrimmage in terms of running and hitting and flying around. I felt the same with Taiwan Jones. They ran around, they hit people. They've just got to learn what to do on a more consistent basis. That comes with time. You've got one defense, one coverage, but they may see a multitude of formations, and a multitude of plays. So when you're doing that, you just compound the different things. When you're seeing those plays against the multiple defenses, you know it gets involved for them. So they need to be able to play without MAs (missed assignments), if you can do that your physical ability will take over."
On running back Nick Hill...
"Is he the fourth, is he the third, is he the second? He's a good football player, and he makes plays. He's an electrifying runner. He's just in a position where there's some depth there right now, but he can make plays. No question about that. You see him maybe as a return man but you also have Keshawn Martin back there. But Nick Hill's had a very good summer camp thus far.
"He's got a burst, he's tough, and he runs through blockers. For his size, he's very powerful. And he can make you miss in space. He's very confident as well."
On the quarterback play in the scrimmage...
"The first series, Kirk threw an interception. Good coverage downfield, good pressure. Other than that, he played very, very well. Get in a two-minute situation, can't take a sack as a quarterback. Both of them did that. Somehow, some way you've got to get out of trouble or throw it away. He can't take a sack at the end. But nice defensive plays. But other than that, I thought he played very well."
On the young linebackers...
"I think Max (Bullough) had a good scrimmage. He is very powerful, and he gives you that guy that can get everybody lined up. He is a student of the game really; he goes about his business in a very professional way. TyQuan (Hammock) played solid again, but needs to be able to play through a number of plays, from a consistent effort standpoint. But feel good about both those guys right now, especially probably Max.
On the conditioning...
"I think that comes with August camp, I think that comes everywhere. You learn how to carry your pads again. Last fall, we did not scrimmage that first Saturday because we had some injuries, so we waited another four or five days. This one we went two days shorts, two days shells, pads, a two-a-day, and then we scrimmaged. We saw the basis of that, being a little bit inconsistent, in terms of our conditioning. And when your conditioning goes, the emotion usually goes as well. That's what I saw. If there's anything I was disappointed in, it was the conditioning aspect and the emotional aspect as the scrimmage wore on. When we didn't have success, how did we handle ourselves, because you have to keep that belief moving with each other regardless of the situation. We didn't see that. I think it was because we were tired.
"We go live every day, but we have got to start putting together longer strings of series I think, so that we are conditioned and ready to go. We have been going three or four plays with the 2s, then we have been going with the 3s, so trying to get everybody reps. You've got the 1s playing three or four plays, then the 2s and the 3s. We need to start with the 1s and 2s making six to 10 play series, those types of things so that we can get in condition. With that there is a risk, so we have to weigh the risk versus reward in that. We have to be able to come to that."
On Isaiah Lewis and Darqueze Dennard...
"(They're both) very good players. Isaiah Lewis is a very, very good player, great hitter. Both exciting players. Both guys will be three-year starters I think for us, they are excellent players."
On the secondary play in the scrimmage...
"The secondary played pretty well. Jeremy Langford has made the transition from tailback to corner and has made plays throughout the entire fall camp. There's a guy that played probably 70 plays in the scrimmage, and the conditioning factor will wear you down. But when he's fresh and gets his hands on you, he's 205 pounds, a 10.7 100-meter guy and he's physical. So it looks like he's found himself a position. He should do very well; I'd say right now he's the fourth or fifth corner."
On comments that Tony Banks made about Kirk Cousins...
"Well, you know, I like Tony. I thought he was a great player here; I really like him as a person. But when you look at Kirk Cousins - first of all I think his (Banks') statement has maybe been taken out of context a little bit. I think he (Banks) was trying to probably, just like everybody, give an adjective to describe something he wants to talk about, where (Cousins) can get better. And so maybe it comes off in a negative respect. But Kirk Cousins has always been very courageous here, and he's a leader on this football team and he does an outstanding job. So it's no big deal."
On the running backs...
"All of the tailbacks are doing well. We held Rock (Edwin Baker) a little bit; Larry (Caper) is firm, doing a nice job in there. Le'Veon Bell is having a great summer as well."
On the play of Keith Nichol...
"I think he picked up really where he left off. I think he is going to be solid; he is a big, physical wide receiver. He runs well; he's made some catches downfield. I think he goes into the fall as one of the top receivers on the team. He is having a solid summer."
On how early Cousins began to show some of his leadership traits...
"Probably in '09, maybe a little bit in '08 but more in '09, when Brian (Hoyer) left and he and Keith (Nichol) were battling for the quarterback position. You started seeing glimpses of it, but he had to be pushed a little bit in that position because he didn't really want to take on that position before he became the starting quarterback. You saw that he had the ability to do those things. As I have said before, he doesn't just have to be a great quarterback; he is going to be a great husband, a great father, he has been a great community leader. The guy just sort of has `it' as a person. He could be a great comedian if he wanted to be."
Senior quarterback Kirk Cousins
On preseason camp...
"It's training camp, so it's the toughest time of the year. You get tested mentally and physically, but the team's playing well and we're working really hard. I think the coaches are pleased with the effort, but there are high expectations for this football team, so nothing less than our best is going to cut it."
On the first scrimmage...
"We had some nice moments, but then we had some moments that weren't so good, and that's the focus of training camp, to be consistently playing at a high level. I think it was good to get that on film and be able to go back and evaluate it yesterday and learn from our mistakes. There's no doubt we need to be playing more consistently, at a Big Ten Championship-type level. The more practices we get in, the more time we get a chance to evaluate it on film, and the better we'll be."
On the feeling of preseason camp...
"Well, we're tired. A lot of us start to have that mindset where you start to get tired and want to give in, but that's where we have to rally each other and help each other and lean on one other and keep pushing. I think that right now, while it is the dog days, we're just going to keep working and keep getting better and understand that if we want to have success on the back end of the season, we have to put in the work on the front end. If we do that, we should have a great season."