Aug. 18, 2010
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Two-a-day workouts continued on Wednesday for the Michigan State football team, as the Spartans conducted both morning and afternoon practices.
In the morning, head coach Mark Dantonio gave 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.
On Thursday, Michigan State will travel to Detroit to practice at Ford Field in preparation for the Sept. 11 matchup against Florida Atlantic. Prior to practice, MSU head coach Mark Dantonio and Florida Atlantic head coach Howard Schnellenberger will conduct a press conference to promote the game. For tickets to "Spartans in the D", please visit ticketmaster.com.
Head Coach Mark Dantonio
"When I walked into the meeting this morning, the first thing I said to our guys was, `We're halfway across that river.' We're at practice No. 12, and we're right in the middle of it. Sometimes you have to look forward and see the light at the end of the tunnel.
"It's been a good camp thus far. Looking back at the scrimmage, which seems about a week ago, but was on Monday, we went two segments. We did 85 plays in the first half, and came back that afternoon and went 93...178 live plays is a lot for our football team. That was ones, twos and threes, so we got a good look at our football team. I came away very impressed as usual with (Kirk) Cousins. He threw very well and we had pressure on him, which I guess is a good thing to see if you're a defensive coach. He did have a couple of picks there. We got good work. (Larry) Caper ran the ball pretty effectively, as did Le'Veon (Bell).
"Defensively, we came up with turnovers. I thought they played very well; the defense won the scrimmage. We played better in the red zone, which I think is important. We played aggressive. Greg Jones had an outstanding day as usual. He had about 12 tackles and four sacks. You continue to see other guys play well, so from that standpoint, it was very good."
On the "dog days" of camp...
"You see some guys, especially young players, who came in and did very, very well, but they've hit a plateau a little bit right now. But they've got to get their feet back underneath them and push through. You're getting to the point now where almost your entire offense and your defense has been installed.
"The younger players are swimming. We did a blitz drill yesterday, and I don't know if our guys, especially the young guys, did it right once. Wrong gaps, that type of thing. But that's a process of learning. You see that across the board with our young players. The guys that have been in here for a semester, or a redshirt year, they have a little bit of an upside there.
"(William) Gholston continues to push forward and do some very, very good things. He'll be used in certain roles, as well as a couple of other freshmen. Darqueze Dennard and Isaiah Lewis are running with the twos, so those are guys that took a step forward.
"I thought our kickers performed well, but you know when they're called on in a middle of a scrimmage, they have to deliver, and they didn't on Monday. It was just one kick each. When you line them up and kick them 10 times in a row from all over the field in live situations, I think we were 18-of-20. Those are good things, but they have to do it in a course of a game situation."
Freshman linebacker William Gholston
On how preseason camp has gone...
"I'm learning a lot. Being able to compete with everyone, there's a lot of depth at linebacker and everyone is good, so it's a lot of fun being with all my peers.
"As far as my whole transition when I came in, I think the first year you have to get physically ready, and then you have to be mentally ready. The technical stuff comes with the mental aspect of the game. The small little technical things can get you a sack or a pressure, so there's a lot of technical stuff we do.
"I came during summer conditioning because I had a class. The first week of that...you think that you're ready, but there's a lot more stuff when it comes down to it. When you're in high school, it's not as intense as it is in college."
On his teammates...
"I think everyone gives each other mutual respect on the team. It's kind of like a big brother and little brother. You can go up to someone and ask them anything."
On his expectations for this season...
"I expect to play my role and do everything I have to do to fall into the scheme and perform the way the coaches want me to perform."
On how Greg Jones has been helping him...
"It's not only Greg Jones, I think it's the whole linebacking corps. Max for the other freshmen, all the way to the fifth-year seniors. Everybody helps each other, no matter what. We always pat each other on the back and say `good play' or if we mess up, we get after each other, but we're still explaining a lot. If it wasn't for the help of those guys, I might still be confused. At first, I was like a deer in the headlights, not knowing what to do, but the coaches and players are helping me transition really well.
On his transition into the college game...
"I feel like I'm ready physically, but mentally, they're still helping me transition, because you still make freshman mistakes, and I'm trying to get that out of the way. I'm trying to get ahead of the game, and the coaches are helping me do that."
On how he's trying to learn from his teammates at preseason camp...
"I'm just talking to everybody with experience. You get a `mental rep', is what they're telling me. You watch film, you take a mental rep. You're on the sideline, you take a mental rep. You study the playbook, but I just don't want to crash into the playbook, because you have to experience it on the field too. You just take your mental rep down and don't forget what you're supposed to do."
Linebackers/Special Teams Coach Mike Tressel
On the linebacking corps right now compared to last year...
"I think Greg (Jones) continues to get better. Eric Gordon is becoming more and more of a leader, which is fantastic. The younger guys have taken a huge step in their knowledge since the spring. What we're working on now is trying to recognize formations and see some of the things that the offenses are telling us, so we have an idea of what the play might be before it happens. You always work on fundamentals, you never give up on working hard at those things and we're getting better in those areas, but we're really focusing on knowledge of the game, and hopefully we can take a big step there."
On the position battle at star linebacker between Denicos Allen and Chris Norman...
"We rotated those guys with the ones and twos (during Monday's scrimmage)...but it came out that Norman is a step ahead, but Denicos will play, you will see him on the field."
On redshirt freshman Denicos Allen...
"Denicos is going to play some football for us this fall, I don't think there's any doubt. He's explosive, he's a very good blitzer. Neither of those guys (Allen, Chris Norman) have earned a right to say, `hey, I'm the guy all the time', so I wouldn't be surprised if they both got in those early games and have an opportunity to prove themselves. We'll have to see how that pans out over for those first few weeks. Norman's on top right now, but Denicos is an explosive football player."
On the depth at linebacker and how it affects the lineup...
"We want to be in a position where we can roll guys in and out. The Big Ten season is going to wear on you...We want to be in a position to rotate, from Coach Dantonio to Narduzzi to myself, we want to be in that position so that's what we're developing. I don't care who you are, week in and week out, it's going to be hard to play your best at the end, and we want to play our best at the end. We're putting ourselves in a position to rotate.
"The Greg Jones' and Eric Gordon's of the world, (you want them in the) same spot. The rookies, the Max Bullough's and William Gholston's of the world, you want in one spot. But the guys like Jon Misch, Steve Gardiner, and those types of guys, we try to get them to learn more than one spot, because that's really where they can help us."
On Greg Jones coming back for his senior season...
"Obviously I was fired up. Anyone who is a Spartan football fan and what they felt, that's what I felt. I want the same thing that any Spartan fan or any coach wants, we want to be successful, and having Greg, that helps us."
On Greg Jones, and if he can be the best linebacker in the country...
"I think he can. I think he has to improve in some areas. I think he can be the best blitzing linebacker in the country right now. Now if he wants to be the best middle linebacker in the country, he has some steps he needs to take, and he's working on it."
On Keshawn Martin returning punts and kicks...
"He needs to return the ball. He's so explosive, he can benefit the team in terms of field position and scoring and outcomes of games at returner as well as anywhere. If he's healthy, he's back there."