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Senior quarterback Kirk Cousins, senior left guard Joel Foreman, and senior safety Trenton Robinson have been elected by their teammates to serve as Michigan State's captains for the 2011 season, head coach Mark Dantonio announced following Thursday's practice. An additional captain will also be selected each week.
"They're a great group of leaders who have all played a lot of football here," said Dantonio. "They've not only had success, but they've also been on the other side of the fence a little bit in terms of having to battle through some adverse situations in their lives. When you pick leaders, as I told our football team this morning, you need to find people who have gone through difficult times and have been able to move forward in a positive manner. I think they will be great leaders for us."
Cousins becomes just the second three-time captain in the 115-year history of Spartan football, joining center Robert McCurry (1946-47-48). It marks the first time Foreman and Robinson have been elected team captains.
"I'm excited about the opportunity again to help lead this football team," said Cousins. "I think one of the strengths of this football team is that it's not just going to be three guys leading. We have a tremendous senior class that's filled with a bunch of leadership, and our unity council is filled with leadership, so more than just the captain role, we have leadership from seniors on down to freshmen. That is what can separate our team from the rest of the Big Ten."
"It's just a great honor," said Foreman, who enters his senior year having already started 36 games on the offensive line. "To be able to have those guys think that highly of you and to put you into that position of leadership, to have your peers think of you like that, is just unbelievable. It's something I need to take to heart. I need to go out there and try to lead this team as best as I can every day."
"It almost doesn't feel real," said Robinson. "I'm just honored the players on the team picked me. That means a lot to me, more than words can describe, because I love all those guys."
After receiving the news following Thursday's practice - the last practice of preseason camp - each captain had a chance to speak to the team before an upcoming two-day break.
"We told them to get ready," Robinson said, "and that we were honored that they picked us. As Kirk said, everyone needs to be prepared to lead because at some point, everyone is going to have a role where they need to step up."
"One of things we talked about was that we're a special group of people," said Foreman. "We have an amazing group of guys, a close-knit family. I think that's unique here. That's something we need to build off of...To have the opportunity to have that unity council out there, to be able to lead on the field as well, is a great asset to this program. We're just excited."
The team will report back to campus for a workout on Sunday afternoon in preparation for the season opener against Youngstown State on Friday, Sept. 2 at Spartan Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Michigan State head football coach Mark Dantonio traveled to Zanesville, Ohio, Tuesday to be with his family, as his father underwent a medical procedure. Defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi will manage the day-to-day football operations until Dantonio returns to campus. Preseason camp concludes Thursday, with the players returning to campus Sunday night to continue preparation for the Sept. 2 season opener against Youngstown State.
Following Sunday's scrimmage, the Michigan State football team was back on the practice field Monday afternoon as the Spartans head into their third and final week of preseason camp.
Prior to Monday's practice, the 18th this August, head coach Mark Dantonio provided an update to the media. Dantonio talked about the impressive performance of the defense in the second scrimmage, what the offense needs to improve on, and what he's hoping to accomplish during the last few practices of camp before the team turns its full attention to the season opener against Youngstown State on Sept. 2.
"When I look at the film, I always try to evaluate the toughness and the effort, in terms of what we are trying to do," said Dantonio, as he sent his team through a nearly three-hour, 183-play scrimmage on Sunday in which the defense came out on top, 78-44. "Are people being selfish, or is everybody all in? I really feel like again, we still have great chemistry on this football team, guys are playing extremely hard and playing with toughness."
For a complete recap on Monday's practice, please click here.
The Michigan State football team conducted its second jersey scrimmage of preseason camp Sunday afternoon. Utilizing a modified scoring system, the defense came away with a 78-44 victory over the offense in a nearly three-hour, 183-play "situational" scrimmage.
A majority of the scrimmage was held at Spartan Stadium, while the remainder of the plays were run on the grass practice fields behind the Duffy Daugherty Building.
"Our intensity level was very good throughout the scrimmage," said head coach Mark Dantonio. "We're really excited about the way the defense played this afternoon. The first-team defense looked very sharp, pressuring the quarterback, running to the football and tackling in space very, very well. Offensively, we must eliminate the unforced penalties."
Sophomore linebacker Max Bullough recorded a team-best 11 tackles (three solos, eight assists), while fellow linebackers TyQuan Hammock (five solos, four assists) and Taiwan Jones (nine assists) tallied nine tackles apiece.
Four turnovers helped fuel the win for the defense, which avenged a 67-63 loss to the offense in the first preseason jersey scrimmage held last Saturday.
Tony Lippett and Johnny Adams made the two biggest plays of the day, as they each returned an interception for a touchdown. Lippett ran back his TD 33 yards, while Adams closed out the scrimmage with a 32-yard score.
Hammock also picked off a pass and returned it 26 yards, and Taylor Calero recovered a fumble.
Overall, the first-team defense didn't allow a touchdown.
Offensively, Kirk Cousins completed 11-of-25 passes for 153 yards and one interception. Andrew Maxwell was 10-of-23 for 126 yards and two interceptions.
B.J. Cunningham (96 yards), Keith Mumphery (58) and Keith Nichol (50) each caught four passes to lead the receiving corps.
Chris D. Rucker had the longest reception of the day, a 58-yarder from Maxwell, that helped set up a Le'Veon Bell 2-yard touchdown run. Larry Caper scored the other touchdown for the offense, running it in from 2 yards out during a goal-line situation.
Nick Hill led the rushing attack for the second scrimmage in a row, compiling 85 yards on 25 carries. Bell and Caper finished with 68 yards and 66 yards, respectively.
Out of the 183 plays in Sunday's scrimmage, 105 took place inside Spartan Stadium. Dantonio described the new natural grass surface as "firm and fast." Dantonio added the natural grass playing surface "looked and played great."
For photos of the scrimmage and more quotes from Dantonio, please click here.
The Michigan State football team returns to action for its 18th practice of preseason camp on Monday afternoon.
With a line of thunderstorms approaching from the west, Saturday's second jersey scrimmage of preseason camp was postponed until Sunday afternoon. Check back tomorrow evening to msuspartans.com for a recap on the second scrimmage, including statistics and comments from head coach Mark Dantonio.
The morning practice of Friday's two-a-day had a little different feel to it for the Michigan State football team as the Big Ten Network stopped by to shoot footage and interviews for a 30-minute "Big Ten Football Preview" special on the Spartans.
Hosted by Dave Revsine, Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith, the "Big Ten Football Preview" provides on-the-field analysis of each team's top newcomers, rising stars, important position battles and 2011 schedule.
The show gives an inside look at a Spartan practice and also includes interviews with head coach Mark Dantonio, offensive coordinator Dan Roushar, defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, quarterback Kirk Cousins and defensive tackle Jerel Worthy. East Lansing was the 10th stop thus far on the crew's tour of the Big Ten.
"This looks like to me the best freshmen class that (Coach Dantonio) has signed - and yet, maybe not a lot of freshmen will play," said DiNardo after taking in practice on Friday. "So it's the best of both worlds. It's a sign of consistent leadership and consistently building this program. I think when you talk about Mark Dantonio, you talk about consistency."
DiNardo also had high praise for the Spartan offense.
"Michigan State probably has the most skill of any other offensive team in the conference," he said. "Kirk has great skill on the flanks and great skill behind him. I think his ability to take the audible package to the next step and his accuracy are really going to be two very important factors in MSU having a great offense."
Griffith paid close attention to the trenches while attending practice.
"No question Michigan State is more athletic and more physical at the point of attack, particularly on the offensive line, which I know was a point of emphasis going into the spring," said the former Illinois fullback and nine-year NFL veteran. "It looks like it's really paying off."
Michigan State's preview special will debut on Tuesday, Aug. 23 at 8 p.m.
Prior to the morning practice, Dantonio met with reporters to give an update on the team, as the Spartans get ready for their second jersey scrimmage of preseason camp on Saturday.
"Going into practice 15 today, I think the goal is to really push through these tough times," said Dantonio. "When you first come to camp everyone is very excited, there is a lot of adrenaline. You move through those first five days and then you get into pads where there is more adrenaline. Now is the time, right now, where you have to be able push through."
Following the first practice, running backs coach Brad Salem, secondary coach Harlon Barnett, quarterbacks coach Dave Warner and several players met with the media in the lobby of the Skandalaris Football Center.
In the afternoon, the Spartans held their 16th practice of preseason camp in preparation for the scrimmage.
"You're looking for execution and attention to detail," remarked Dantonio on what he wants to see at Saturday's scrimmage, which he said will be very active and include up to 130 plays. "You're looking for great effort, and you're looking for a particular unit to win a situation a lot of times. You look at all those different things. Individually, you have to break it down after that and look at each player and see how they're operating individually in that unit."
For a complete transcript of Dantonio's comments from Friday morning, please click here.
Preseason camp continued for the Michigan State football team on Wednesday as the Spartans held their 13th practice on the grass fields behind the Duffy Daugherty Building.
Following practice, defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi and offensive coordinator Dan Roushar, along with several players, met with the media to talk about the progress of preseason camp.
Roushar talked about the position battles along the offensive line as well as having the luxury of three senior wide receivers with starting experience, while Narduzzi discussed the play of his linebackers and what he wants the defense to improve on during Saturday's second jersey scrimmage. To read more quotes from the coordinators, please click here.
An estimated crowd of 5,000 attended the ninth-annual "Meet the Spartans" in downtown East Lansing Tuesday night. The event gave Spartan fans the chance to meet the entire 2011 Michigan State football team and receive autographs from players and head coach Mark Dantonio.
"It's great to come out and see these fans," said senior wide receiver Keith Nichol. "It's very humbling to give back and see how much we mean to them, but more importantly, what they mean to us."
Following the autograph session, seniors Kirk Cousins, Joel Foreman and Trenton Robinson spoke to the fans and thanked them for their support. For more photos of the event, click here.
Earlier in the day, the Spartans conducted their 12th practice of preseason camp. The team will continue preseason camp on Wednesday, with practice scheduled for 3 p.m.
The Michigan State football team conducted its second two-a-day practice session of preseason camp on Monday.
In the morning, head coach Mark Dantonio provided 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.
Dantonio talked about the team's first scrimmage on Saturday, which the offense won over the defense, 67-63, utilizing a modified scoring system. He also mentioned the progress of the offensive line and the difference between the first and second week of practice. Perhaps his biggest message to the team on Saturday, however, was playing with more emotion, especially late in the game.
"You want to see consistency in every respect, not just in terms of what we are doing, but in effort, and I think in the first scrimmage you see some guys that ran out of gas a little bit," Dantonio said. "But we can get that fixed, we have good depth and we can handle that...We haven't put them in a situation where they have had to play 12 straight plays and those types of things. That is to come this week, where they have to maintain what they do over a course of a series.
"When your conditioning goes, the emotion usually goes as well. That's what I saw. If there's anything I was disappointed in, it was the conditioning aspect and the emotional aspect as the scrimmage wore on."
Regarding the second week of practice, Dantonio is once again trying to mix things up to take out the monotony of preseason camp.
On Sunday, each position group went out to dinner with their coach, while the seniors went to the golf course and driving range before going to Dantonio's house. The second-annual cornhole tournament - a huge success last season, won by Greg Jones and Chase Parker - returns this week, with the finale set for Sunday. And on Tuesday, the Spartans will head to downtown East Lansing for the annual "Meet the Spartans" event.
"It will be good just to be among people, walk among the living a little bit," Dantonio joked.
"But it is the same thing every day; installation, trying to get better, going back over things, trying to find out, and watch, and do all of the situations that you would normally experience in the game. That takes a little time, but the attitude has been good, the chemistry is good. It's up and down every now and then, but for the most part our guys are motivated."
"It's training camp, so it's the toughest time of the year," said fifth-year senior quarterback Kirk Cousins. "I think that right now, while it is the dog days, we're just going to keep working and keep getting better and understand that if we want to have success on the back end of the season, we have to put in the work on the front end. If we do that, we should have a great season."
Men's basketball head coach Tom Izzo was also in attendance during the morning practice and spoke to the team.
"It's always great to have Tom out here, he's such a great supporter of not just the football program but all of our athletic programs here - and (he's) a great friend," said Dantonio. "We have a fundamental that we talk about every day and today was about faith and belief, and he just talked a little about that."
Following team meetings in the afternoon, MSU went back to the practice field Monday evening.
For a transcript and podcast of Dantonio's complete media briefing, along with other podcasts from Spartan players, please click here.
The Michigan State football team held its first jersey scrimmage of preseason camp Saturday on the grass practice fields behind the Duffy Daugherty Building. Utilizing a modified scoring system, the offense came away with a 67-63 victory over the defense in a "situational" scrimmage.
"It's tough to evaluate things overall because we haven't watched the film yet, but we did some very good things," said MSU head coach Mark Dantonio. "We could have a very good football team, but when things get tough, we have to be able to reach down and find our identity."
Senior quarterback Kirk Cousins completed 17-of-28 passes for 216 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He connected on touchdown passes to Keshawn Martin (11 yards) and Dion Sims (10 yards). Sophomore Andrew Maxwell finished his afternoon 18-of-22 passing for 159 yards and one touchdown.
Red-shirt freshman Nick Hill led all rushers with 72 yards on 14 carries (5.1 avg.), while sophomore Le'Veon Bell collected 46 yards on 14 carries, including a 1-yard touchdown run. Sophomore Bennie Fowler had a scrimmage-best six receptions for 58 yards, including a 10-yard TD catch from Maxwell.
Defensively, sophomore safety Isaiah Lewis compiled a team-high eight tackles, while sophomore defensive end William Gholston led the defense in tackles for loss with 2.5 sacks for 19 yards.
For a complete recap on the scrimmage, including stat leaders and comments from Coach Dantonio, click here.
It sounded a little bit more like football Thursday afternoon on the grass fields outside of the Duffy Daugherty Building as the Spartans practiced in full pads for the first time this preseason.
"I thought we did a nice job out there hitting," said head coach Mark Dantonio, who sent his team through the fifth practice of preseason camp. "(It was a) physical practice, a lot of live work. Guys played hard out there and there were some good things. Obviously we have to watch film to evaluate everything, but we're on track."
After being on campus for nearly a week attending round-the-clock meetings and practicing in shorts, suiting up in full pads is one of the most anticipated days of preseason camp. Several of the veterans undoubtedly are ready to go, but for some of the newcomers, it can be an eye-opening experience.
"It was pretty exciting," said freshman linebacker Taiwan Jones, an imposing 6-3, 234-pounder out of Anchor Bay High School in New Baltimore, Mich. "It got crazy today, a lot of big hits and you heard a lot of popping. It was way better than the first days without pads."
Jones wasn't the only one who noticed the increased intensity of practice.
Four other newcomers - quarterback Connor Cook, right tackle Fou Fonoti, linebacker Lawrence Thomas and safety RJ Williamson - greeted the media on Thursday for the first time and echoed Jones' statements.
"The speed of the game was so fast, everyone was flying out there," said Cook, who has been taking reps with the third team. "It's definitely been an adjustment."
"I would have to say the speed," Fonoti said on the biggest difference from playing in junior college. "My junior college was fast, but up here at the Big Ten level, it's intense. The speed is something I need to transition to."
But for only five practices, and just one in pads, Dantonio likes what he sees thus far.
"As a football team, I think we look good physically out there," Dantonio said.
The fifth-year head coach also mentioned that retention and the quality of depth on the team has stood out to him during the first week of practice.
"The focus is very good, the retention is very good," said Dantonio, "but we got a lot in, so there are mistakes being made. That's all part of it. There are a lot of moving pieces out there when you're trying to block things up front. (There are) different pressures and different movements defensively, and on the other side of the ball, there are a lot of things offensively by formation and everything that creates adjustments that you have to be able to make.
"We have some depth - with that being said, can we stay healthy, and how are our 1's going to play against other people's 1's? But we have some depth, and the program is going in the right direction because of the depth."
For an injury update on the Spartans and for more comments from Coach Dantonio, including his initial thoughts on the freshmen class after the first week of practice, click here.
Under partly cloudy skies and temperatures near 80, fifth-year Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio sent his team through a 2 1/2-hour workout in helmets, shoulder pads, jerseys and shorts on the grass fields behind the Duffy Daugherty Football Building on Tuesday, Aug. 9, as the Spartans completed their third of 29 scheduled preseason practices.
"With three practices in the books, I'm not sure that we're ever as far as we want to be, but we've covered a lot of ground in a short period of time," Dantonio said. "It was our first day in shoulder pads, and I thought our guys really flew around the football.
"We've completed a lot of the installation process and the retention has been very good. It's tough to evaluate practice until you review the film, but we strive for crisp execution in everything we do. The practices have been well organized and the tempo has been good as the players transition from drill to drill and period to period."
For a complete recap on Tuesday's practice, click here.
More than 50 reporters from around the state of Michigan gathered Monday inside the Spartan Club at Spartan Stadium for Michigan State Football Media Day.
The morning began with roundtable interviews with defensive players and coaches, followed by interviews with the offensive staff and players. Fifth-year head coach Mark Dantonio concluded media day festivities with a 30-minute press conference at the main podium.
"You certainly want to recognize last year, but you also have to understand 2011 is the next project, the next season down the road," said Dantonio at his press conference. "It will always be like that, so you can't live on what's happened in the past. So there is a very fine line in being confident but yet staying humble and understanding that there is work to be done yet.
"I've always tried to look ahead. Whether it's coming off a loss or a great season or a win, we've tried to look ahead to see what's on the horizon for this program. I think good things are on the horizon. We're poised, but we need to stay focused in this process."
In the afternoon, the Spartans held their second practice of preseason camp on the grass fields behind the Duffy Daugherty Football Building.
For a further look at Media Day, including a complete transcript of Dantonio's press confererence as well as podcasts from several players, please click here.
And to see how Kirk Cousins and Joel Foreman made their entrance into media day, click here.
For the first time in 20 years, the Michigan State football team hit the practice field on Sunday as defending Big Ten Champions.
The Spartans held their first official practice of the 2011 season under partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low-80s. With players in helmets and shorts, fifth-year head coach Mark Dantonio sent his team through a 2 1/2 hour workout on the practice fields outside the Duffy Daugherty Building.
Prior to practice, Dantonio met with the media and talked about his goals for the first day of the season. To read his quotes, click here.
The wait for football is over.
Fifth-year Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio welcomed 105 members of the 2011 team back to campus for physicals, compliance and drug education meetings, and a media workshop on Saturday, Aug. 6, as the Spartans opened preseason football camp. The first preseason practice is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 7 at 3 p.m.
Following a 6 a.m. wake-up call Sunday, the players will report to the indoor facility at the Duffy Daugherty Football Building for a series of running tests.
Over the next five days, the Spartans will practice in shorts for two days and shells for two more days before donning full pads for the first time on Thursday, Aug. 11.
"There's always a lot of excitement this time of year, with the opening preseason camp," Dantonio said. "Our focus is on staying healthy and team development, especially these first two weeks.
"It's always exciting to check the results of the Bottom Line test. It's a demanding exercise, so we're anxious to see where the players are at from a conditioning standpoint.
"This week, we'll install our base offense and defense, so it's important that we don't leave our freshmen behind in terms of knowledge. We'll install at a slow pace to guard against information overload. At the same time, our veterans haven't participated in organized workouts for three months, so it's equally important for them to get reconditioned to playing the game of football. Later this week, everyone will have to adjust to carrying their pads again.
"We'll use these first six days to build toward a scrimmage next Saturday, so we can evaluate just where we're at as a team," Dantonio continued. "We have a good feeling about this football team, and we think it can be a special one. A special chemistry existed last year, so we're hopeful that will continue. The players are ready to go, so we're looking forward to seeing just how far we've come since last season. We're heading into our fifth year as a coaching staff, so we know where we're going."
Prior to Saturday's team dinner, the players and coaches paused for a brief ceremony outside the southwest corner of Spartan Stadium to dedicate the 2010 Big Ten Championship plaque. Michigan State won a school-record 11 games last season and a share of its first Big Ten Championship in 20 years. Former fullback and current graduate assistant coach Josh Rouse joined members of the team's unity council in unveiling the championship plaque.
"With the dedication ceremony, there definitely was a sense of turning the page from last season," Dantonio said. "The plaque was installed at the stadium while the players were on break last week, so we wanted to make sure that they all saw it. It's important to recognize that significant achievement and know that the plaque will be there for a lifetime. It was something we were able to accomplish last year, but now it's time to build upon that. The foundation has been laid, so now it's time to keep pushing forward."
"The dedication ceremony absolutely marked that it's time to turn the page," fifth-year senior quarterback Kirk Cousins said. "The Big Ten Championship plaque is a tremendous symbol that will last forever. Now, the 2011 team has a chance to cement its own place in history."