Bret Bielema likes to open the doors for select spring scrimmages, in addition to the finale, the Red-White Game. That's fine with new offensive coordinator Dan Enos. That was among the takeaways after practice Thursday.
"Places I've been, we have not done that," Enos said. "I didn't do it as a head coach. But I wish I did. I can understand why Coach Bielema does it and I would probably do it differently (if he was head coach again)."
Enos does not remember any open scrimmages during his time at Michigan State. Certainly, he didn't open scrimmages to the public as a head coach at Central Michigan. The scrimmage is set for 11 a.m. Saturday and is open to the public this week.
"I think players get excited for the fans to be there so that's real good," Enos said. "We want a crowd Saturday."
Enos may even want a crowd around his quarterbacks, too. He's been testing them with footwork drills and pocket presence moves that maybe they didn't have in the past. He wants a rush, although he likes having the green jerseys to keep them from getting hit.
Senior quarterback Brandon Allen said the work his group has gotten in moving around in the pocket. There have been drills added each day to simulate pocket pressures.
"It's more footwork drills than I'm used to doing and I love it," Allen said. "Some of them are new to me. Some I've done. But we are going to do a lot more footwork drills than in the past.
"There are drills that throw you off balance and he wants you to regain your balance. There may be some time you have to throw in an awkward position, but he really emphasizes getting your balance and your footwork set again to make an accurate throw. We've done a lot of those."
Enos said there just isn't enough time to do all the footwork drills he wants, meaning that's so important in quarterback development. And, it doesn't matter the experience level, the more footwork drills the better.
"I've liked how he has handled his pocket presence this spring," Enos said. "We have worked hard on footwork. There were a couple of things that I saw Tuesday where the footwork wasn't perfect. So we continue to emphasize that. But except for those couple of setbacks, he's been good.
"You just can't do it enough. When you get all 10 toes set, you are just going to throw it better. You lose balance, you have to know how to get it back. So we work on that a lot.
"I really think all of the quarterbacks, not just Brandon, have improved their footwork. We will work on it.
"We work on drills where you escape pressures. It's all part of the drill work."
Enos is excited about the scrimmage. It's a chance to get more extensive work for all of the young quarterbacks.
"The last scrimmage, they were popping in and out pretty fast, none of them out there for very long," Enos said. "This one, it'll be different. I want to see them get some rhythm, see what they can do for a longer set of plays. I want to get a bigger body of work for all of them, including Brandon.
"I did like the execution in the first scrimmage. It was good the way they identified their movement keys. They were quick with that."
Austin Allen was particularly good in that area.
"He got back and got rid of the ball," Enos said. "We'll add some things, goal line, short yardage and try to do some of the same things. The keys change, so it's more difficult.
"I thought we did a lot of good things and it's tough against our defense. Our scheme and our blitzes are tough and our personnel is challenging. But we did some good things."
There was praise for the development at wide receiver and tight end, but Enos noted that there were five drops, some of them in the third-down work.
"That's too many," he said. "We want to eliminate those. We can't have drops on third down. They come back to bite you."
There were questions about Austin Allen's assertiveness in the huddle, something Bielema said needed work last year. He wanted a louder, stronger voice.
"Coach Bielema is big on that and so am I," Enos said. "I think he's done well. I learned about stepping into the huddle with authority starting with my fifth grade Little League coach."
Brandon Allen mentioned the development of his younger brother, adding a sense of urgency to a "laid back" attitude. Some would identify a calmness at quarterback as a strength, but there are times that a stronger voice is needed, even a prodding voice to teammates.
"It's kind of what you want in a QB, that calmness," Brandon Allen said. "But there's times where you're going to want to take charge and maybe rip someone's butt who wasn't doing something right. I think that's going to come with him. That's what it was for me early on. I wasn't that take-charge kind of guy and I think with just the years to come it's going to come for him."
Enos was asked about the development at wide receiver. He's pleased to get extra work for others with Keon Hatcher nursing a knee bruise, but noted the senior leader was back in some limited work Thursday.
"It was good to have Keon back for some of the practice," Enos said. "He got some work today. We've got some good work with the others. I like what I see out of Drew Morgan, JoJo Robinson, Duwop Mitchell, Eric Hawkins and Cody Hollister."
Hawkins sparkled in last week's scrimmage.
"Austin got the ball to our playmakers and Hawk had a couple of big plays," Enos said. "Austin took advantage of some things. Austin is a good player. Hawk has been impressive in the first eight practices. I don't know what he's been like before, but he's been explosive and made big plays so far this spring. "
Brandon Allen said it may be just maturity with Hawkins this spring.
"Sometimes it takes some time," Allen said. "Hawk is a special talent. He's a big-time threat. He's been around awhile and I think you see the maturity and he knows what is going on."
Enos was asked about the development of a screen package.
"We are coming along," he said. "We've got a variety of screens. Some of them are to take advantage of blitz packages, some of them quick, some of them slow. It's just some things to get our best players the ball in great situations, let them get into the open and use their wiggle."
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