Aug. 23, 2012
When speaking to reporters in the lobby of the Skandalaris Center on Thursday, MSU head coach Mark Dantonio declared his players generally fit and preseason training camp a success, and said the Spartans have already turned the page to the opener against Boise State.
"We had a great final scrimmage (Thursday)," he said. "We got out of there with no injuries and went about a full half playing it just like a game so we got special teams in and did some live things there. All-in-all, we're ready to go.
"After the scrimmage, we ran our guys through the same interval test when they came in and all of the passed it and did very well."
One true freshman, long snapper Taybor Pepper, has secured a starting assignment and two others, wideout Macgarrett Kings Jr. and defensive back Demetrious Cox, are in the playing group for the opener.
"At this point, we don't want to just play a guy (true freshman) to play a guy with either of those guys," Dantonio said about Kings and Cox. "But they have the ability and they'll travel, and they'll work up on (the varsity) field, and Taybor Pepper will be our snapper. He's been excellent and we're looking forward to watching him."
Dantonio said about 90 percent of the starting positions are "locked in but there are still a couple guys who are going to have to prove themselves over the course of probably the first four games before we can collectively say, `He is the guy.'
"There's a couple guys that deserve to both be playing at a particular position."
This is what Maxwell said he learned from Cousins, only the second three-time captain in MSU history:
"I just really saw him give a voice and give merit to everybody on this team from the starters down to the scout-team guys and the walk-on guys. He was never too big-time, he was never too important or in a rush to really make an effort to say hello to somebody, or talk to somebody, or ask them how classes are going or their family is doing. If you can build those deep-rooted personal relationships with guys, especially in a position like this, that's when you're going to earn their trust and that's going to help you on Saturdays."
Dantonio was already trying to get his head wrapped around Boise State, which has risen from mid-major status to an elite position in college football over the past six seasons.
"Yeah, 73-6 is one thought that stays with me," Dantonio said of Boise State's record since Chris Peterson took over as head coach in 2006. "And then, every aspect that you look at when you look at Boise, whether it's their special teams, or the various punt formations, or all aspects of who they are as a football team tells you they're extremely well-coached, that they have a plan and that they're tough-minded people, and they're aggressive and the come to play.
"That's what we expect to get next Friday, and I'm sure they won't disappoint."
Junior wide receiver Bennie Fowler, who missed most of last season with a stress fracture in his foot, had the type of preseason camp Devin Thomas had before setting a school record with 79 receptions in 2007 (tied by B.J. Cunningham last season), according to Dantonio.
"He's made every practice," Dantonio said of Fowler, who struggled with the same injury in his other foot in '09.
Said Maxwell, "The question with him is, is he going to stay healthy because unfortunately he hasn't been able to stay healthy for a prolonged period of time since he's been here? He was healthy all camp and he had a great camp. He had more than a couple great plays for us. It seems like every day he made a great play for us. If he can stay healthy all year he'll be a great player for us."
Norman was touched by the way his teammates voted for him to be a captain.
"I love my teammates so much so it was sweet to know that they trust me enough to put me in this position," he said.
In preparation for the 8 p.m. kickoff against Boise State, Dantonio said the Spartans will practice at night all next week after they return from their two-day hiatus. ... Dantonio said he and his staff will take one day off. ... Maxwell said he'll take the playbook and game plan with him to study while spending a couple of days relaxing at home with his family in Midland. ... Dantonio said he hoped as many players as possible get to watch their former high school teams' season openers over the next couple of days. ... "A big thing for me personally is for them to go back and see their high school football team, so if they can do that, it's a big plus," he said.