EAST LANSING – Entering the second week of spring practice, Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker is excited.
The coaching staff emphasized technique and fundamentals, and practices are productive, yet he sees room for improvement ahead of the Spartan's first scrimmage on Saturday.
"If we can just get a little bit better at the critical factors that are important to each player to execute their job at their position ... We have to do simple, better; hand placement, footwork, pad level, upper-body violence and effort to the ball, eye discipline — that's really where our main focus is.
"It's just one step at a time, gaining ground," said Tucker. "I'm really pleased with what I've seen so far. We've got a long way to go, we have a lot of work to do, but we're trusting the process, and we're getting better."
More importantly, Tucker wants to see his players simulate game-like situations as often as possible, making the first of three spring scrimmages extremely important. It's also the only time he wants to see full-blown, all-out contact. He's not a fan of unnecessary collisions that could lead to unwanted injuries.
"I just want to see guys compete ... and see how they carry things over from the meeting room to our practices to a scrimmage," Tucker said. "Sometimes when the lights come on, and you start to scrimmage, a guy's technique and fundamentals just go out the window. That's discipline, that's trusting your training, and it's really one step in the process."
The 49-year old believes Saturday will tell him a lot about his team after losing 17 players to the transfer portal and gaining six midyear transfers alongside four true freshmen in January.
"I'll know a lot more after our first scrimmage. None of the groups are where we need them to be right now … As we practice more and as we get more live reps, guys get more comfortable with our scheme, then things will start to shake out, players will start to separate themselves, and the identity of this football team will start to reveal itself. But right now, the work ethic at every position has been good," said Tucker. "We're always looking to raise the bar there.
"And the focus has been good. We weren't good enough at any position a year ago. There's a tremendous amount of improvement that we need to make between now and kickoff next season."
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