Aug. 21, 2010
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Under mostly cloudy skies and light rain with temperatures in the mid-70s, fourth-year Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio sent his team through a 130-play "controlled" scrimmage in Spartan Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 21, as the Spartans completed their 17th preseason practice. Utilizing a modified scoring system, the defense retained the Green (home) jerseys by winning the second preseason scrimmage, 45-32.
The linebackers led the way for the defense, as senior Eric Gordon tallied a scrimmage-high nine tackles and Greg Jones compiled eight, including two for losses (10 yards) and one sack (7 yards). Sophomore Chris Norman added six tackles and a pass break-up, while senior Jon Misch had five stops, including a scrimmage-best 2.5 for losses (10 yards) and one sack (6 yards).
Offensively, junior quarterback Kirk Cousins completed 13-of-21 passes for 128 yards and one touchdown. He fired a 30-yard TD strike, his longest completion of the day, to junior B.J. Cunningham near the end of the scrimmage.
Cunningham led all receivers with five catches for 67 yards, while red-shirt freshman Bennie Fowler caught four passes for 41 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown reception from freshman Joe Boisture.
Sophomore Larry Caper paced the ground game with 36 yards on nine carries (4.0 avg.).
Freshman Le'Veon Bell accounted for 67 all-purpose yards, catching three passes for 35 yards (11.7 avg.) and rushing for 32 yards on six carries (5.3 avg.).
FINAL SCORE: Defense (Green Team) 45, Offense (White Team) 32.
Receiving - B.J. Cunningham had five receptions for 67 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown grab from Kirk Cousins; Bennie Fowler caught four passes for 41 yards, including a 19-yard TD grab from Joe Boisture.
Defensive Stat Leaders:
LB Eric Gordon - recorded a scrimmage-best nine tackles.
LB Greg Jones - produced eight tackles, with two for losses (10 yards) including a 7-yard sack.
LB Chris Norman - posted six tackles and a pass break-up.
LB Jon Misch - contributed five tackles, with 2.5 for losses (10 yards) including a 6-yard sack; also credited with one quarterback hurry.
Head Coach Mark Dantonio:
"It was a physical scrimmage, but the day belonged to the defense. Defensively, we pressured the quarterback, played the ball well in the secondary and made stops on third down.
"Offensively, we didn't commit any turnovers, so that's a positive. We also ran the ball with toughness this afternoon and that's important. We'll continue to focus on cleaning up the unforced penalties.
"Overall, I'm pleased because we were able to get work for the first, second and third team. So everybody was involved, and we came out of the scrimmage without any significant injuries. We have another week of preseason camp to go before turning our complete attention over to our first opponent, Western Michigan."
Junior quarterback Kirk Cousins:
"It was a good scrimmage because we were able to simulate so many game-like situations. We saw great effort today on both sides of the football, and the effort has been great throughout preseason camp. It was a hard-hitting scrimmage.
"The defense simply played great today, but the defense has played great since preseason camp opened. Greg Jones played like an All-American, making plays from sideline to sideline. It's a challenge to play against our defense because Coach (Pat) Narduzzi creates multiple looks with the different blitz packages and pass coverages.
"The defense is much improved over last year. We now have guys playing who have been in this system for four years. Guys like Greg, Eric Gordon, Chris L. Rucker and Marcus Hyde all played significant roles as young players, so they have a great grasp of the system. Eric is a tremendous linebacker who covers a lot of ground, and Chris L. is as good as any cover corner in the Big Ten. We also have young guys like Tyler Hoover, Chris Norman, Jerel Worthy and Johnny Adams who are really coming into their own. There's no substitute for experience and with experience comes knowledge.
"Our defense is tough to go against on a daily basis, so I'm excited to know that I'll get the opportunity to compete against a different opponent (Western Michigan) in two weeks.
"We ran the ball with some consistency today and that's so important in the Big Ten. We didn't just break a few runs for big gains; we were able to pick up the tough yards and move the chains.
"I really like our depth at running back. It's a physical game, so our running backs are going to get banged up over the course of the regular season. Larry Caper, Edwin Baker and Le'Veon Bell all ran effectively. I also liked what Nick Hill and Andre Buford did when given the opportunity to carry the ball. Andre had a couple of nice runs for the third team, and our defenders will tell you that he's one of the hardest guys to tackle in practice.
"B.J. Cunningham has had a great preseason camp. His strength has always been his hands. He has as good of hands as any receiver in the league, but he's become a much more disciplined route runner. It is his third year in our offensive system, so B.J. knows the clock is ticking and he realizes that it's time for him to produce."
Senior linebacker Greg Jones:
"We played pretty well defensively, especially on third down. The intensity was good, and we had guys swarming the football. We also did a nice job of limiting big plays. The only negative is that we were unable to create any turnovers.
"Chris Norman and Denicos Allen both had productive days, while Isaiah Lewis and Darqueze Dennard continued to impress in the secondary. I also liked what I saw from Marcus Rush. He made a number of plays in the offensive backfield."