Spartans turning up the heat

With fall camp in its second week of practices, Dantonio says MSU is in the grind, dog days as players look to make moves after the first scrimmage.

Michigan State held its first fall scrimmage Saturday and now is in the second week of practices in preseason camp.

With the grind of it all setting in, especially for the freshman, the dog days are setting in, coach Mark Dantonio said on Monday.

“Just by nature, it’s a little bit of dog days,” coach Mark Dantonio said. “You have been out here for a week. The freshmen are figuring out that this is not a picnic out here. …

”This is the grind time. The heat gets turned up as it gets a little closer to game time.”

The Michigan State offense defeated the defense in the scrimmage 47-30 – a closed scrimmage with some statistics released.

Dantonio said that all three quarterbacks – Connor Cook, Tyler O’Connor and Damion Terry – played well. He also praised the offensive line for their protection of the quarterbacks, as well as the receivers for making tough catches.

”The guys competed,” Dantonio said. “We’re finding out who’s who in the two-deep a little bit as we move forward. The biggest thing I liked about it is that we played hard and it’s competitive out there.”

The biggest numbers from the scrimmage came from junior wide receiver DeAnthony Arnett, who had eight catches for 167 yards and two touchdowns. Dantonio said he made big plays, but the goal will be seeing the same type of consistency in the second scrimmage.

“He played very consistently, caught the ball very consistently, made tough catches,” he said. “He’s got great speed. He played as well as he’s played. …

”Got some guys back but he’s in the picture, there’s no question, especially after the scrimmage. He’s definitely in the picture and he’s one of those six.”

The passing offense as a whole put up big numbers, as Cook threw for 214 yards, while O’Connor had 246 and Terry led the group with 288 yards and four touchdowns. As for the running game, Dantonio said the defense might be a little bit ahead of the offense in the run matchup right now, while the passing offense was “happening”

Up front, he said the Spartans are solid as they look to replace three starters. He praised Kodi Kieler, Miguel Machado, Brian Allen and Dennis Finley specifically.

”I think the mechanics of what we do, concepts, techniques, very solid,” he said.

On Taiwan Jones

The middle linebacker spot is a focus this fall and in Saturday’s scrimmage, Jones was “solid” according to Dantonio.

He has some work to do, though.

”You have to condition yourself to play this game and you have to be able to put six, 10 plays together,” he said. “And you know, that’s what we’re working toward. But I think when he’s playing fresh, he can be a force in there.”

Cornerback battle

Another position that has been in focus since the spring when Darqueze Dennard moved on to the NFL has been the second cornerback spot. Darian Hicks entered spring as the No. 1 and remains in that spot, also being called solid by Dantonio.

”He plays the ball in the deep part of the field very well,” Dantonio said. “He has got to go out and show it. This is his first opportunity to be the starter out there. He is being pushed some and the competitive nature of that position is being raised.”

Nicholson still at cornerback

Freshman Montae Nicholson is among those hoping to play immediately and he has been in the mix at cornerback. On Saturday, he had his first chance to show himself.

”He looked good but he was a freshman out there a couple times,” Dantonio said. “It’s difficult, it’s challenging. The thing you have to be able to do is put a string of plays together. You can go out and play one on one and look tremendous cause you’re gifted. But then you get to six or seven plays, same with an offensive lineman or all these positions, and when you put it together with run and pass, not pass skelly, not inside drill, run and pass, and you have to put six or seven or 10 plays together, you have to be able to do that. Usually experience separates that I think. Those are the things we’re trying to work towards to do.”

Freshmen D-linemen

Dantonio was asked about freshman David Beedle and Dantonio said he has been tough and plays hard.

Figuring out who is in the two-deep comes next, as he praised a pair of other true freshmen on the defensive line.

”Those are the things we have to figure out today – well, not today but this week – who’s in that two-deep or really three-deep at defensive tackle, because they’ll all play,” he said. “But you know, Malik and Enoch, I thought played pretty well.”

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