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Dec. 22, 1997

1997 Jeep Aloha Bowl Practice Notes

Saban, Reese Assess Defensive Preparations

HONOLULU -Michigan State head football coach Nick Saban sent his team through another two-hour workout Monday in Aloha Stadium as the Spartans prepare for their Dec. 25 game against Washington in the Jeep Aloha Bowl.

Like the Spartans' usual Thursday workouts, Michigan State practiced in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts. The Spartans worked out from 9-11 a.m. HST under sunny skies. Temperatures were in the mid-to high- 70s with humidity around 70 percent.

"We worked on a lot of kicking situations today and tried to polish the game plan on both sides of the ball," head coach Nick Saban said. "The players seem to like the early practice. It's not as hot, and they like that. Today we weren't in full pads, either, and the players obviously like that. Overall, I was pretty happy with how things went today."

Senior outside linebacker Ike Reese agreed that the Spartans looked sharp this morning.

"Today was a little more up-tempo," Reese said. "Our legs were pretty fresh and we didn't have many mental mistakes. You could tell we were focused."

Saban and Reese feel that Washington brings some unique challenges to the Spartan defense.

"My biggest concern," Saban said, "is that with the skill-position players Washington has, they have the ability to strike quickly from anywhere on the field. Many of the coaches I have talked to feel that Jerome Pathon is the best wide receiver in the Pac-10."

"I think how we play their running game is going to be a key to the game," Reese said. "They have a great runner in (Rashaan) Shehee. We need to focus on our keys and reading our keys."

Reese also looked at the Spartans' depth as a key to the game.

"We are going to need to stay fresh out there, and the more that we mix in different people, the better," Reese said. "Conditioning-wise we are going to be there, but if we can give people breaks throughout we are going to be better in the fourth quarter. That will also allow us to do a lot more in terms of blitzes and diferent packages."

The Spartan players and coaching staff visited Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial Monday afternoon. Monday evening, the Spartans attended Honolulu's popular "Legends in Concert."

Michigan State will practice again Tuesday morning from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. HST at Aloha Stadium

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