Aug 16, 2013
EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State football team is eagerly anticipating the second scrimmage of preseason camp on Saturday at Spartan Stadium.
On Friday morning, under sunny skies and temperatures in the low 70s, the Spartans conducted their final practice before Saturday's scrimmage and the 16th overall of camp.
Prior to practice, Spartan head coach Mark Dantonio gave an update on the team as it preps for live action in the scrimmage. Dantonio talked about his expectations for the scrimmage, the possibility of playing three quarterbacks, and changes to the depth chart since the beginning of camp.
"We're constantly in an evaluation process of who's going to play, that type of thing," said Dantonio. "I think most of what we've got in for the summer camp or what we've wanted to experience situation-wise, we've done. It's basically about getting our players out on the field and providing a game-like situation as we can for everybody involved.
"I think you make decisions after the scrimmage somewhat (on the depth chart), but you also let things play out through the next week a little bit. I think you can get an idea of these are the guys we're going to have work with people, especially the young guys who haven't had an opportunity as much, maybe because they weren't here in the spring or whatever reason."
Although the team is in the "dog days" of preseason camp, according to Dantonio, he is still pleased with his team's effort and feels like they are responding.
"I think we are in those days where you've just got to get up and get ready to push yourself through it," said Dantonio. "Our guys have done an outstanding job in coming to practice every day, leaning on each other, and doing it with a lot of emotion. It's been a great camp and we're trying to get our guys work, rest and lifting, if that's possible, but there are only so many hours in a day.
"I really feel like we have strong leadership on this football team. This is a special team, I feel, with a special group of people and it keeps re-establishing that fact daily in what you see and the way they've handled situations."
In the first jersey scrimmage, the defense came out with a 28-22 victory.
BTN PREVIEW SHOW ON MICHIGAN STATE TO AIR SATURDAY: BTN will air the Michigan State Big Ten Football Preview show Saturday (Aug. 17) at 8 p.m. The 30-minute show will feature BTN's Dave Revsine and analysts Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith, as they measure the team's progress for the quickly approaching 2013 Big Ten football season. The show will include interviews with head coach Mark Dantonio, assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, co-offensive coordinator/running backs coach Dave Warner, and several players. For more information on BTN's Big Ten Football Preview Tour go to BTN.com/Tour.
QUOTABLE: Below are additional quotes from Dantonio on Friday.
On the possibility of playing three quarterbacks (Andrew Maxwell, Connor Cook, Tyler O'Connor)...
There are always chances. Basically, all three of those guys are good players. They've all had good scrimmages at times because we work every day live some. They've all done some good things and we'll see how it all shakes out. Obviously, this scrimmage is a big scrimmage.
On Tyler O'Connor...
Right now he's still the third, but he can make some plays. His consistency on some of the things that need to be elementary, just calling the play or whatever it is, it's just the consistency of it. He had a spring practice basically, now he's in his fall camp and he makes things happen. He throws a good ball.
On changes to the depth chart...
I would say on our offensive line, Jack Conklin has been a guy that's been a two in the spring and now he's sort of maintaining that number one position at left tackle, so you see that. Our linebackers are pretty much status quo, but we're pretty set. We've still got a lot of experience when you look at us.
Riley (Bullough) is still a one, but those guys at running back are pretty evenly distributed, but guys get nicked up a little bit and don't get as many carries. All three of those guys have been making plays. I've been really impressed with the two freshmen (Gerald Holmes, Delton Williams) that have been there as well.
On the kicker position...
(Kevin) Muma's had a great camp. (Michael) Geiger's in there. Those two are competing. (Kevin) Cronin's been good but back and forth a little bit. I think Muma has been very consistent. Geiger, for a true freshman, has been a guy that's right there. He's in the hunt.
I think Muma has taken a big step forward. I think his confidence is really high right now. It's displaying itself, I think he's 22 out of 24 right now.
On the process of naming captains...
What we do is we try and pick, we've picked two guys every day to formulate that 12-person group. Then we'll pick our captains from those guys. They'll get a week to settle in. Whether we'll pick three and one guy rotates in, however we do it, I really feel like we have strong leadership on this football team. This is a special team, I feel, with a special group of people and it keeps reestablishing that fact daily in what you see and the way they've handled situations.
On the right guard position...
Dan France has worked tackle and guard. We're going to play whoever, so he can go either place. Jack Allen works guard and center, so we've got guys that can go in and out of different positions. Donovan Clark's a guy who can go in and out a little bit. Kodi Kieler is a guy that's done some tackle work but plays at center as well. We're trying to get our guys involved.
On expectations for the season...
It's college football. There are some people out there with established players that don't know whether they're going to play or not. That's college football. You need to deal with it. That's why we play on Saturdays and they start to accumulate their reputation. I'm excited about our guys, as I said, at times. No. 22 and 24 have shown some Le'Veon Bell-like ability, those are true freshman, (Delton) Williams and Gerald Holmes, but they need to be more consistent. There are other guys, you know who they are, who have been good as well.
On depth of roster and if any freshmen will play...
You look at our football team, we're very deep in the secondary. We're very deep at linebacker. Defensive line is pretty well established. We talked about the kicking situation. Offensive line is pretty tough for freshmen to play. Our receivers are playing well. I think at the running back position, that's when you're going to see a guy pop out of there. We've got some very talented freshmen. (Cornerback) Darian Hicks is extremely talented. I've been very impressed with him. R.J. Shelton is very talented as well. He's getting pressed at a new position (receiver), but he's making plays. (Jon) Reschke and Shane Jones are probably good enough to play. Do they play? Do they not? I hate to play a guy for six plays and then we lose him for a year. Probably a lot of the same type of situation where we may travel guys, but we may wait and watch too. Dylan Chmura, that's another guy that's got a chance.