Hoover working way back

Senior defensive tackle is back in practice and some other notes as Michigan State prepares to go to Evanston to take on Northwestern.

Michigan State has been without the services of defensive tackle Tyler Hoover for more than a month now with an injury, but the senior could be back this Saturday.

"He's gonna have some opportunities," defensive line coach Ron Burton said. "He's done a good job in rehabbing so we'd like to get him on the field."

Hoover left the Spartans' win against Purdue in the second half and has not played since then.

Burton said Hoover has been practicing this week and "we hope we can get him in for the rotation."

In Hoover's absence, sophomores Damon Knox and Mark Scarpinato have stepped into more prominent roles.

"(They have) done a tremendous job," Burton said. "I think the key is that they had the experience early in the year, being able to move in and out, and having those 20-30 plays per game which has allowed them not to be shell-shocked when they had a chance to."

Thomas making strides

Sophomore defensive tackle Lawrence Thomas has been working his way back from injury and has seen time in recent weeks.

Burton said he is continuing to make progress.

"He's continued to be a work in progress," he said. "He's in a couple packages we have called our speed group and he'll continue to get those as needed based on game plan."

Burton also outlined three areas in which Thomas needs to work on – all No. 1 things.

Number one is repetition, number one consistency, number one the ability to make plays," he said. "You gotta continue to do that all of the time. It can't be some of the time, it has to be all the time in my book. M-A-P. Make a play."

Lyles still working at tight end

Last week, coach Mark Dantonio said fullback Riley Bullough likely would move back to defense and has been getting reps there.

That is not necessarily the case with tight end Jamal Lyles, who moved from defensive end in the fall.

Dantonio said it is possible Lyles will move back, but praised his ability at tight end.

"I think Jamal will be an outstanding tight end," he said. "A lot to learn when you're moved over there in September. A lot of nuances with blocking, routes and such. But we try to get him involved. He's in there.

"There is a plan for him in the game plan every week. But we just chose this past week, he didn't hit the field in that respect. I do think he'll be an outstanding tight end. He has skills."

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