With a Michigan State spring game attendance record 48,000 in Spartan Stadium, the Spartan football team held their annual spring game today, and the White team defeated the Green, 9-3.
Former players, recruits, and thousands of Spartan faithful were on hand as the team gave a preview for what to look for when the fall rolls around. Fans got a chance to catch a glimpse of experienced veteran starters, and players who will be the future of the program.
“I thought our spring game went well,” Dantonio said. “Great crowd. Very excited about the crowd, I thought everybody came out and did a nice job. I thought our guys played hard, I thought the hitting was very, very good.”
The White team got the scoring started in the game with some trickery involving two players you might not expect.
After that, there were no more touchdowns throughout the game and only field goals, as the defenses for both sides locked in and held the offenses in check.
With the Spartans losing wide receivers like Tony Lippett and Keith Mumphery, it will be important for some receivers to step up for Connor Cook this fall, and it was DeAnthony Arnett who stepped up today.
Arnett, who is now in his final year for the Spartans and who has yet to make an impact, caught five passes for 51 yards. Arnett look confident running routes, and showed good hands when catching the ball.
“I said all spring that he’s had a good spring,” Dantonio said. “He’s been more effective, he has to catch the ball and get north, but he’s caught the ball much better. He’s got ability, he’s got great ability. We’ve sort of been waiting for him to take off, and 2015 might be that time.”
Another key position that showed some promise today was the running backs. After the graduation of Jeremy Langford, who ran for consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, the competition fell to redshirt sophomore Gerald Holmes and redshirt freshman Madre London.
Holmes, who was running for the White squad, carried the ball 11 times today for 48 yards and showed great toughness and physicality running the ball. London, who ran for the Green, carried the ball nine times for 78 yards, including a 50 yard run in the third quarter.
“I was impressed with Gerald Holmes’ ability to tough it out in there,” Dantonio said. “He got some tough yards, very tough yards, I thought he ran pretty effectively. London had the big run, showed a little bit of speed. Played like a freshman a little bit in there a couple times, but he’s going to be an exciting back to watch going forward.”
There wasn’t much going on in the passing game today, with Connor Cook only completing 11 of 22 passes for 105 yards for the White team. For the Green team, Tyler O’Connor completed six of 16 passes for 51 yards and an interception. Damion Terry did not see any action today.
As expected, the Spartan defense line was a force from start to finish today. Although sacks weren’t officially counted because quarterbacks weren’t allowed to hit, guys like Shilique Calhoun and Lawrence Thomas were in the backfield all day long.
The Spartan coaching staff also showed off some of the athleticism of guys like Montae Nicholson. The sophomore started for the White team at safety, but also lined up at receiver, took an end-around for a couple of yards, and even got to return kicks.
The spring game wraps up spring practices for the Spartans, and the team will resume practice in August. Their first game is Friday, September 4, at Western Michigan.