Lippett commanding more defensive attention

Michigan State senior wide receiver starting to see double teams and extra focus from defenses. The Spartans are prepared for that possibility again Saturday against Michigan, which puts the onus on Connor Cook and other receivers.

Mark Dantonio did not want to say that Tony Lippett’s confidence is at an all-time high Tuesday.

He did say it is very high, however. With that confidence, Lippett has emerged as not only one of the best receivers in the Big Ten, but arguably the nation.

As he has tallied eight touchdowns and more than 20 yards per reception in seven games, he is continuing to demand more attention from opposing defenses.

”I noticed being doubled a little bit more and more attention is being focused on me a little bit,” he said. “I just try to approach the game the same way. If they came up to me and tried to double-team me, I just try to manipulate as much as I can and get open. …

”A few teams have double covered me before, and I guess I kind of figured out a little way to attack it just a little bit better.”

Facing double coverage is something that started a little bit against Purdue, but picked up against Indiana last Saturday. On one play, Lippett initially was double covered before making a spectacular over-the-shoulder catch down the sideline.

“He hadn’t seen a whole lot up until last week when Indiana double-viced him like he was a gunner on a punt team, and then a safety up over the top, and he still ended up catching the ball,” offensive coordinator Dave Warner said.

It is the type of defense Michigan State will be looking for again on Saturday as Michigan comes to Spartan Stadium. Warner said he expects to see if from every opponent now.

”We have to be prepared for it and I think we are,” he said. “As much as anything, Connor Cook has to be prepared for it.

”He is the one that has got to recognize it and has to understand the pass concept and understand where the ball needs to go if they are going to take Tony away.”

If the Wolverines do shift additional coverage toward Lippett, Warner said the Spartans will have to recognize it and look to other options, such as juniors Aaron Burbridge and MacGarrett Kings.

“I think Burbridge has already emerged,” Warner said. “I think our pass game, our players all have merged - those top five or six guys. I think they have all emerged.

”I’m happy with where they’re playing right now so we have absolutely not problem looking elsewhere and going elsewhere.”

But with Lippett having more catches than the next three Michigan State receivers combined, it will be important for him to have a role in the offense week in and week out.

”Consistency is the thing that he's been able to do,” Dantonio said. “He's been able to do this on a game-to-game basis.

”Obviously this weekend he will have to have another big game to be able to continue what he started.”

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