Spartan Running Backs Featured in First Preseason Scrimmage

August 14, 1998

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State fourth-year head football coach Nick Saban sent his team through a 132-play scrimmage Friday to conclude the first week of preseason camp.

The two-hour workout featured a 68-play "controlled" scrimmage plus six periods dedicated to special situations, including second-and-long, red area, goal line, coming out, two minute and game ending.

"I really liked the intensity today," Coach Saban said. "There was a lot of good hitting.

"The players are tired and they're supposed to be tired after a week of two-a-days. The guys worked hard to push themselves through the scrimmage.

"I saw a lot of good things," he said. "I was impressed with the way the offense moved the ball today, putting together a few sustained drives. A lot of guys made plays and contributed on offense.

"It seemed like all of the running backs carried the ball well. We made some big plays in the passing game but we must improve the overall consistency of our passing game.

"I was disappointed in the way the first-team defense performed in the 'move-the-field' period because we made some costly mental errors. Overall, I was pleased with the effort, hitting and intensity on defense. The defense played better during the special situations because it took advantage when given a favorable down-and-distance."

No. 1 quarterback Bill Burke directed two 65-yard scoring drives. Burke completed nine-of-19 passes for 125 yards, including a 50-yard bomb to Plaxico Burress on the sixth play from scrimmage.

Freshman QB Ryan Van Dyke guided the second unit on an eight-play, 70-yard scoring drive. Van Dyke hit 12-of-22 passes for 115 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown strike to Herb Haygood.

Lloyd Clemons led a well-balanced ground attack with 67 yards on 18 carries, including TD runs of 4 and 2 yards. Freshman Little John Flowers picked up 40 yards on 11 attempts, including a 15-yard TD jaunt, while fullback Leroy McFadden added 35 yards on five rushes.

Burress caught five passes for 95 yards while Sedrick Irvin (39 yards) and McFadden (26) had three catches each.

The Spartan defense produced its share of big plays, with Robaire Smith recording three sacks and Amp Campbell and Cedric Henry each coming up with an interception.

Placekicker Paul Edinger hit two-of-three field-goal attempts, converting from 50 and 34 yards out.

"Paul Edinger had an impressive day kicking the football," Saban said. "Paul knocked through a 50-yard field goal that cleared by plenty. I'm pleased with his placekicking, but we still have a lot of work to do in the kicking game."

The Spartans have two-a-days scheduled through Tuesday, Aug. 18.

Michigan State opens the 1998 season in the Black Coaches Association Football Classic Aug. 29 against Colorado State at 4 p.m. in Spartan Stadium.