Spartans Head into Home Stretch

Monday found the Spartans back on the practice field getting in their last few practices prior to their home opener against Youngstown State on Sept. 2. Prior to practice head coach Mark Dantonio talked about the teams scrimmage on Sunday and more.

In Mark Dantonio fashion the defense rose to the occasion and showed their toughness and abilities during Sunday's scrimmage.

What did Dantonio see when he looked at the film?

"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. "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."

One player who stood out was sophomore linebacker Max Bullough. What has Bullough show so far during camp that has impressed the Spartans head coach?

"Max gets people lined up, he's 245-250 pounds, he's very firm, he's got a knack for getting off blocks, and he runs well," said Dantonio without hesitation. "When you come to our winter workouts, you just say, `wow, look at that guy.' You're going to notice him running and moving. The thing that he can do is take that movement and build that into playing within a system."

While pleased with the performance of his defense. Dantonio said there are some things that need to be cleaned up on the offensive side of the ball and it all starts up front.

"The offensive line play, we had too many false starts," Dantonio said. "What we try to do is weight these penalties relative to the scrimmage. That hurt them and set them back a couple of times. As far as the play itself, I thought it was OK. Again, we have some young players up there playing and they are going to make some mistakes, but they're athletic and continue to grow every time we have a scrimmage or a game."

With two scrimmages behind them Dantonio stressed he's not ready to start making changes to the depth chart or name starters.

"I'm not going to make those statements until we get ready to play the game," Dantonio said. "I think we're jumping to conclusions sometimes. We've talked about the guys competing for the positions, but we still have a week to go. We'll come back next week and sort of solidify where we're at. I think that's the fair thing to do. We want to evaluate them all the way through summer camp.

"Really what we need to do this week is to clean up some things today and address some things that we have not seen yet in summer practices, some situational things. And then really the next couple of days we will start looking at our first game against Youngstown State, start to get ready for them. School starts next week, it is a short week because we play on Friday, so we will get a jump on things this week so we are prepared."



Also on Monday, Dantonio talked about the status of freshman linebacker Lawrence Thomas who has missed the majority of preseason camp with a shoulder injury.

"I imagine it's going to be difficult because he's got to rehab his shoulder first, then he's got to be able to hit with it," remarked Dantonio. "He showed a lot of promise when he was able to practice, but he had one day of shells, so he's missed a lot of time. He's learning all of the walk throughs and everything else, but he's lost a lot of time.

"We don't really want to play a guy just to put him in the game and say `hey, you've played.' He's too good of a player, too valuable of a commodity to waste. So when he's ready to play, if that's the third game, he'll play. If it's not until next year, then that's what we'll do. It really depends on how well he's able to grasp what we're doing and then get the reps to be able to move in that direction."


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. Last Friday, BTN stopped by practice in East Lansing for the 30-minute preview special on the Spartans, which will debut on Tuesday, Aug. 23 at 8 p.m. 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.

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