East Lansing, MI
Green 17: White 10
Both squads played for more than steaks and hotdogs today.Â They played for each other and they looked pretty darn good doing it.Â The score told little about a scrimmage that was the most impressive spring game I have seen since I started rooting for this team thirty years ago.Â The culture has changed.Â The players believe and it will translate to more wins this season.
Rebuilding a college football program takes time.Â It takes the right coaching, the right leadership and it requires depth and talent.Â All of the above were on display.Â Call them the young Spartans, call them the Dantonio overhaul, call them what you want, but surely understand that there is a marked improvement in East Lansing these days.
This coaching staff knew that they had to bring in better talent in order to build Michigan State back into the green giant.Â They knew they had to have kids from the previous regime overachieve and buy into their vision.Â They had to manufacture players from guys who most of really didnâ€™t know much about.
The spring game was about guys like Greg Jones and Kirk Cousins that were part of the first Mark Dantonio class.Â It was about the veterans that everyone expected to do well, but it was more about guys we havenâ€™t known.
Behind the doors of â€˜The Duffâ€™ we have heard about the elite talent that walks the hallways.Â Red-shirts have been the staple in this building process and we saw many of them on the hoof for the first time.
Every year it is one of the unsung players that endear themselves to me because they give maximum effort.Â Last year that guy was Rocco Cironi; he was playing through an injury for most of last season.Â He gave all when he didnâ€™t have anything more to give.Â My effort guy today was Dan France.Â He is a player.
Donâ€™t let the last name fool you.Â Dan doesnâ€™t look like someone that runs and hides when the enemy approaches.Â If today was any indication, we can look forward to four years of France kicking the hell out of everyone he puts his mitts on.Â Even when he wasnâ€™t making tackles, he was controlling numerous offensive linemen allowing his teammates to make a play.Â Dan is a 308 pounder that plays sideline to sideline.Â His play, along with Blake Treadwell's development bode well for MSUâ€™s interior defensive line.Â The good news for Spartan fans is that Treadwell has three years of eligibility left and France has four. Â Last season's freshman All American Jerel Worthy sat out while recovering from injury, but will be back at 100% come fall. Â Those three young men really solidify the playing group for a number of years.
Max Bullough, Denicos Allen and Steve Gardiner are good enough to play Big Ten football right now.Â Max will be a freshman this fall joining Allen in the same class due to a 2009 red-shirt year.Â Gardiner suits up as a third year sophomore this fall and should provide a ton of depth to both the OLB and MLB positions.Â All three of these guys looked like stars in the making.
The offensive line was not overly impressive, but that is easily understood, as offensive lines require five men to work as one unit.Â Splitting them up between the green and white squads made it difficult for them to find their rhythm running the football.Â The one thing that was easily noticeable was the athleticism of our lineman.Â They all move pretty well.
The Keith Nichol hype is real.Â He is just an athlete.Â The kickers still need some work.Â Mike Sadler will provide a lot of push this fall.Â I like our quarterbacks.Â We have wideouts galore.Â Four capable running backs are in the stable; two of them are elite backs.Â We have more linebackers that can play then the two previous regimes had on their combined rosters.Â The secondary still scares me, but I think an improved pass rush will likely make them a lot better than they were last year.Â I am not one to wish my life away, but September canâ€™t get here soon enough.
GO GREENâ€¦ GO WHITE!!!