Spartans open up Spring practice

MSU head football coach John L. Smith addressed the media on Tuesday afternoon as only he could. Dressed in a spiffy white suit accompanied with matching cowboy boots, Smith answered questions regarding the state of his team and what he hopes to get out of spring practice.

MSU head football coach John L. Smith addressed the media on Tuesday afternoon as only he could.

Dressed in a spiffy white suit accompanied with matching cowboy boots, Smith answered questions regarding the state of his team and what he hopes to get out of spring practice.

The Spartans opened up the spring with a two-hour session inside the Duffy Daugherty Building on Saturday. MSU will lace it up for 13 more practices and will finish with the spring game on April 19.

The Spartans went through another non-contact practice on Tuesday afternoon and will start full-contact on Wednesday.

Smith said he is really impressed with the team’s attitude so far and said this spring will be used to teach these guys a whole new system.

"Right now it’s our second day (Tuesday), again helmets, no pads, just teaching, teaching, teaching, throwing things out there," Smith said.

"We’d like to come out of spring ball again with definitely ones in place and quality backups if we could. I don’t know that we’re going to have the depth to get that done, but that’s hopefully what we will be able to do at the end."

Smith has made no bones about switching players if he feels they could contribute to the team at another position. He mentioned that he has already moved the fullbacks into tight end or defensive positions and is thinking of moving some backs into the wide receiver spots.

Last year’s fullback senior Mark Goebel has already made the switch to linebacker. Smith also indicated that he is looking into moving freshman running back Jerramy Scott into a wide receiving core that is really thin.

"We’re real thin at wideout, real thin, we’re going have some of those wideouts really step up and become a lot better real quick. That worries me a little bit," Smith said.

Smith summed up his defense as "scary" and hopes to have that taken care of before fall.

The offensive front is where the Spartans may be force and Smith said that would give the team a solid foundation to build upon.

"I think that offensive front is going to be a pretty solid unit. I’ve always said if there’s eight guys there that you feel comfortable with you can get through a season."

In other personnel news, senior defensive tackle Kyle Rasmussen is back with the team, but Smith declined to comment any further on that issue. Offensive lineman Paul Harker may be granted another year of eligibility if all the paper work goes through.

Freshman Drew Stanton remains in the thick of things in the quarterback battle. Smith said he is a real solid student, who works hard in the classroom and he hopes that will carry over onto the playing field.

In regards of the other three listed at the quarterback position, Smith said senior Jeff Smoker would not be the No. 1 guy after spring, but that could all change once the fall begins.

Smith hinted that junior Damon Dowdell and sophomore Aaron Alexander, the other two battling for the No. 1 job, could move to other skill positions such as wide receiver or defensive back if they do not earn the starting quarterback job.

Smith said he will not address that issue into he absolutely has to and hopes to have a true No. 1 quarterback after spring ball wraps up.

Junior Tyrell Dortch is looking good at the running back position, Smith said and he projects that he will be ready to go for the season opener.

Dortch suffered a severe broken leg and ankle against Wisconsin two seasons ago, and has been fighting to get back out on the field.

Smith said the hardest part of an injury is coming back mentally and he said the only way to can that confidence is to get whacked.

"Dortch is ready to go," Smith said. "Now he’s going to have to take a bang or two or two on that. I mean he looks great right now, but no one is banging it either."

Smith said Dortch will participate in all contact drills and practices this spring.


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