Spartans Break Camp, Turn Attention to Cal

After a long spring and fall camp in preparation for the start of the 2008 season, the Michigan State football team welcomes today's end of the fall session. Now the Spartans turn their attention in earnest to the University of California.

EAST LANSING - After a long spring and fall camp in preparation for the start of the 2008 season, the Michigan State football team welcomes today's end of the fall session. Now the Spartans turn their attention in earnest to the University of California.

MSU head coach Mark Dantonio talked yesterday about what the change in focus will mean for his squad.

"A sense of urgency, I guess," said Dantonio. "Fall camp becomes so routine you don't even know which day it is. I think, at least, we can change our focus to somebody else. That's going to provide a little bit more excitement around here, because you're finally getting ready to play. I think everybody goes through that."

Dantonio said it's not just the players who were ready for the camp session to end. He admitted that both he and the coaching staff have a change in focus and a sense or urgency as well.

"I look at my practice schedules from four and five years ago and it seems like you just try to inch your way toward that first game.

"You're preparation - you always feel like you're a little bit behind in it," said the coach who really knows that the team isn't behind at all.

"We've done a lot of front end work on this so I know we're not, but you always feel like, 'let's (hurry up and) get going on Cal, let's get going on Cal' or whatever team we're playing. So that's what we'll do."

Dantonio also said he and his team are very aware of the smack talking that members of the Cal offensive line were directing towards MSU's young defensive ends led by University of Cincinnati transfer Trevor Anderson and junior Brandon Long.

"I think in this computer-age world we live in, I think everybody sees what everybody says, so you have to be careful, but you know, it's not too big a concern of mine, we're just going to play the game."

Dantonio also said that with so many young players moving to key roles on the team, the opener against California will serve as a test of how far they've progressed and how far they have to go to be truly competitive.

"We're probably going to have to assess this football team as we go through our games and certainly in about a week and a half. That will be a big challenge for us. Cal, that will be a huge challenge for us, going on there, playing away, playing in the Pac 10. So with all that we'll find a lot more about (our team.)"

INSIDE SLANT:
MSU's head coach let the media in on what the next few days will be like for the Spartans.

"Camp ends tomorrow, but we'll have two (more) practices today and they'll both be Cal oriented. We'll go again tomorrow and camp will end."

Did the coaching staff get done what he wanted to get done over fall's sessions?

"Well, I like our team, but I think there's always room for improvement. We're a young football team. The first thing we have to do is establish who our leaders were on this football team and we're going to be able to do that today," he said. "I really like the way I think our seniors have shown leadership throughout the entire fall camp. They've done a great job."


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