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Preseason Camp Update: Defense
 
 
 
Sophomore linebacker Taiwan Jones recorded seven tackles in last Sunday's scrimmage.
 
Sophomore linebacker Taiwan Jones recorded seven tackles in last Sunday's scrimmage.
 
 

Aug. 16, 2012

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi gave an update on the Spartan defense to reporters this week as the team continues preseason camp.

Among various topics, Narduzzi talked about the play of the young linebackers, the position battles at defensive tackle and free safety, and the improvement of junior Micajah Reynolds.

The Spartans will conduct their 15th practice of preseason camp on Thursday afternoon.

On junior safety Jairus Jones and how's he feeling after missing the first eight games of last season with an Achilles' injury...
"Jairus is doing a great job. Right now, we're real excited to have him. He's had six picks on the camp so far in 12 practices, not including today...We're happy with where he is right now."

On what he's most disappointed in, and what he's most excited about, thus far in camp...
"I'm most excited about our depth, where if a guy goes down, I'm not feeling like `ugh, stop practice and let's come back tomorrow and see if that guy is back.' That's how it used to be. So I'm most excited about the depth that we have.

"I can't say I'm disappointed in anything. Coaches don't get disappointed. If we get down and disappointed, it's a bad day. We don't have bad days. I'm not disappointed."

On the young linebackers (Taiwan Jones, Darien Harris, Ed Davis)...
"They all did well (in the scrimmage). They all have a special, unique thing about them. Taiwan mentally, in the spring, it looked like he was thinking about way too much; but he's turned it loose and he's really playing like we thought he would play (in preseason camp). Much better than last fall. We kind of joke around that Taiwan, you're a fall player, and we bust Darien a little bit about being a spring ball player. All of a sudden, it's getting close to game time, and Taiwan is stepping up again. It's been a back and forth thing, which makes for great competition at that position (Star linebacker).

 

 

"And Ed Davis has really had a great camp for us. He's physical, he's one of those guys that we expect to blitz off the edge, he's a great blitzer, he's a slasher. He's been making some great plays for us. He's probably made the biggest strides of any player. He was the third one and all of a sudden now you're like, `whoa, we got to find a way to get him on the field.' He pops you. He's Greg Jones-like, kind of. He can blitz like him. He's a good player."

On evaluating experienced players vs. talented younger players...
"Obviously, the experience is huge because you get in a game and (there's) something you haven't seen, the guy who has the experience is going to react to it a lot better than the guy who doesn't have the experience. So if all things are equal, you're going to go with the guy who has the experience."

On Taiwan Jones and possibly playing at defensive end at times...
"He's forcing the issue to stay at linebacker because you don't need him to go down if he's figuring out linebacker. But ultimately on third down, you'll probably see some changes. We're going to get our 11 best players on the field. I don't care if it's playing with three d-ends or three d-tackles or six db's instead of five usually, we're going to find a way to get our 11 best players on the field for what we call money down."

On Anthony Rashad White, Tyler Hoover, and the importance of defensive tackle...
"Rashad White had a great scrimmage, and so did Tyler Hoover. Tyler made me mad the day before, he wasn't very good and didn't come out and practice with an attitude, and then the next day he came out and played a lot better. You have to come out and ready to play every day, or you're going to slide down the depth chart and someone else is going to slide up the depth chart. It's just being locked in every day and not trying to take a practice off, because tomorrow is more important than today. Especially at d-tackle. You can't take a practice off at d-tackle. You take a practice off at d-tackle, and you're going to double team me, it's not going to look very good on tape. You got to be on every play."

On the position battle at defensive tackle and who is currently starting...
"I can't tell you. I don't know. But it's become a three-man battle (Tyler Hoover, James Kittredge, Micajah Reynolds). Reynolds is having a great camp. Nobody's talking about him, but Reynolds is really playing well. You never know, which is good.

"The light came on (for Reynolds). He's so much better than he was in the bowl game. He played some in the bowl game, and I was ready to ship him back to offense. I would never ship him back now...Micajah's playing well.

"I think he's locked in (at defensive tackle). I think he'd cry if he moved from defense right now because he's playing so well."

On the position battle at free safety...
"It's a four-man race (Kurtis Drummond, RJ Williamson, Demetrious Cox, Jairus Jones). Jairus Jones is in the mix, and he's always been in the mix. He only lost two or three pounds, but on the first couple days of practice the guy's running so much better than he ran for the last three years he's been here. He's running well enough we can play him to the field, too, and he's really smart, and he's got the experience. He knows what to do out there. It's a four-man race out there, really...Isaiah (Lewis) is staying at the boundary (strong safety) right now."

On who would be the No. 2 at strong safety at this point behind Lewis...
"Whoever is not running with the one's. They all can play there. It's the same position, field or boundary. It can be any of those guys."

On if the defense has developed a personality yet so far in camp...
"I think it comes later. I think they have to prove themselves on the field first to develop that. Last year doesn't prove a thing. We'll have our deal, and they'll develop who they are. Our defensive leaders are in charge of that. They'll come up with their blueprint of what they want to be and who they are. I haven't seen it yet. I'm waiting for it. In fact, I need a rough draft pretty soon and I haven't gotten it."

On if the second scrimmage on Saturday is one of the last chances for players to make a statement for playing time...
"It sure is. Once we get into next week, the focus will be a lot more on Boise. We've worked on Boise already, but it really starts to focus on Boise. Every day is a day like that. You hate to say it's all on a scrimmage day, but it's a practice, and there's a lot of moves being made in practice. There will be moves made from today to yesterday to tomorrow. But the scrimmage, depending on the format of it, we hope it's a 1's on 1's, then it really is (an evaluation), but if it becomes a 1's on 2's, then you say not as much, and you have to count more of the practice then you do the scrimmage. So until I see that final format of what it is from Coach Dantonio (I don't know)...I'll do whatever coach says. If we don't go 1's on 1's, then we'll go 1's on 1's during the week leading up to it. Either way, we'll get it. We'll always have 1's on 1's (at some point)."

On freshman linebacker Riley Bullough and if he's picking up the defense like his brother, Max...
"I'd say it's still a little bit too early, we'll find out in the spring; he's just learning. But he's very intelligent and athletic, you see him make plays. You don't see him being awkward out there. Riley's going to be a great player."

On Max Bullough...
"Max is doing a great job. He looks great, just like we thought. He's our leader again. He might be the all-around leader, not only vocally as far as getting our defense lined up, but the whole boat."

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