April 14, 2007

East Lansing, MI

Spartan Stadium


 
It may not be chic and it may not get all the love, but MSU football has put hard hitting black and blue Big Ten football back in its repertoire. It was a scrimmage that any red meat loving football fan would have gone crazy over.  It has been a long time since I have seen a Spartan team that is that physical.  Physicality was the name of the game today.


Here are some interesting notes from today’s scrimmage:


 

  1. The running attack looked very impressive today.  Javon Ringer has distinguished himself as the clear #1 back.  He had an incredible day shredding the defense for 130 yards on 15 carries.  His play was an exclamation point on the fact that Dantonio is committed to MSU being able to run the ball down opponent’s throats.  Ringer had a gorgeous play (a 65-yard TD) that was only possible by a beautiful if albeit unnoticed block from his TE Eric Andino.  Also note that Ringer only played the first half as he did last week as the staff has him on limited carries.  If Dantonio wanted to make a point to his players that he was going to run the ball:  he has. 
  2. The FB position was obviously a concern because the previous regime didn’t use one.  If today’s production from that position is any barometer, I have no concerns about MSU. 
  3. Penalties.  Today’s scrimmage early was littered with a series of off side and false start penalties.  The thing I like however is that Dantonio and the staff dealt with it and it was not a continuing issue for the rest of the day.  They were still there early but it was nice to see it dealt with.  The good thing is that the first three penalties were all on the second team and the bulk of the day’s misdeeds were done by the second stringers.
  4. Shannon Shelton of the Free Press sat next to me at the scrimmage and she said it best.  She called Nehemiah Warrick “Mr. April” and I agree with her.  Warrick was great last spring and struggled during the regular season.  This spring he is doing the same and if he can carry his spring performance into the fall this year, it will surely improve the MSU secondary.
  5. The passing attack of the Spartans was better then I expected at this point.  It is clear (crystal clear) that Connor Dixon is the #3 QB with Clay Charles at the #2.  Both should drop down at least one spot and possibly two in the fall when Foles and Cousins arrive.
  6. Tom Izzo was on hand with his son Steven and even called a play.  It certainly was entertaining and shows how Izzo and Dantonio are committed to making both programs work in tandem.
  7. A funny note was how the #2 defense clearly dominated and owned the #2 offense.  This early I am sure it does not mean as much but it does demonstrate how things have changed.  Last year the #2 offense owned the #2 Defense.
  8. Josh Rouse is the #1 MLB (Mike Linebacker or Middle Linebacker) and he played very well.  He is a sophomore out of Connecticut who played very little last season but will clearly be on the field this fall.  He is a heads up smart kid and made several good adjustments.  Kaleb Thornhill is not playing has he is dealing with recurring shoulder and knee issues.
  9. Hawken and Gordon both have a lot to do, but both offer a lot and it will be a nice  to watch how those two progress.  Gordon has to be willing to sacrifice his body and at times he seemed too tentative. 
  10. Brian Hoyer spent a lot of time trying to help Clay Charles and John Van Dam, but he is clearly comfortable as the number one, he did what all good QB’s do and you could see him explaining stuff several times to his teammates. 
  11. Jehuu Caulcrick when he can get a step is just a huge load.  Late in the scrimmage I saw Hawken wrap him up behind the line, and only the refs whistle helped him, as he literally couldn’t bring him down.  He and Ringer will be the best 1-2 RB tandem in the Big Ten next season.  I certainly see no way anyone has a better tandem then that.
  12. Ogembi Nwagbuo (OG) may not have lost any weight but he sure seemed more limber and lighter on his feet.  He was able to move from his four-point stance and rotate with ease.  That should be and encourager to the Spartan Nation because if he can step up from last year then that is just another plus.  He had a decent 06’ campaign but he can do a lot more and looks poised to do it.
  13. This team is going through a transformation.  Javon Ringer said it best after the scrimmage when he told me “this team is tired of losing, it’s tired of the stupid penalties and Coach Dantonio ain’t having none of it.  He punishes us and we don’t want it.  We aren’t going to talk, we just want to show people that because they’re tired to.” 
  14. Hoyer was 12 for 21 and 206 yards.  1 TD and 1 INT.
  15. Jehuu Caulcrick ran it 20 tims for 95 yards & 2 TD’s.