News and Notes From Spring Michigan State Football..

Hondo S. Carpenter

News and Notes from Spartan and B1G Football…

The talk around the nation when it comes to Spartan football is their defense. Long have fans bemoaned the speed of the SEC and the Spartans apparent lack of it. You may remember that UGA head coach Mark Richt when asked about the alleged lack of MSU speed after the Capital One Bowl
this year said, “I sure didn’t notice or see that.” Well now it is standing out in the B1G.

Earlier today I asked Iowa QB James Vandenberg what stood out last season when the Spartans went into Iowa City and beat the Hawkeyes
37-21. His answer was pretty blunt, “They were very well rounded, they tackled well, and they covered us very well. A lot of team speed out there.” Oh how the times have changed in East Lansing.

The last two Spartan football teams have had amazing chemistry. Some wondered if that would fall by the wayside with the graduation of Kirk Cousins. What some don’t understand is that it wasn’t built around one person; it has been built into the program. Even Mark Dantonio has acknowledged this, “The chemistry remains strong,” and the players are echoing their coaches’ excitement with what has taken place.

Some don’t like the steady Eddie approach of Dantonio, but he won’t change. He talked about what he is looking for out of spring practice and his answer hasn’t changed from year to year. “I have always looked at spring ball as trying to improve ourselves individually and getting better

Andrew Maxwell is going to bring some athleticism to the QB spot this fall that the Spartan Nation hasn’t seen since Drew Stanton. Maxwell could high jump 6’7” in high school and has a big active arm. He can make every throw, but Dantonio addressed two of his best attributes, “Outstanding leader. Very calm.”  That calmness is critical for a leader and it is something that has endeared him to his teammates.
He isn’t Kirk Cousins. He is a great Andrew Maxwell.

As the new leader of the team, I asked Andrew to talk about what he is seeing from the offense so far this spring. He told me, “We got some new guys stepping into some new roles. Some rust, some unforced penalties. By no means a finished product…but well on our way.”  Like his predecessor Maxwell is not one to fluff anything so those words of praise are significant.

What he said next will impress you even more. When I asked him about his WR group he had some high praise, “Looking great. This group
of WR has all to the tools to be the playmakers we had in the past. All the moves and hands to be playmakers.”

On his offensive line he couldn’t hide is excitement either saying, “Their experience is irreplaceable.  To have that kind of experienced talent back…it will generate some good competition.”

On WR Keith Mumphery he said, “His biggest asset is his speed. He can really stretch the field vertically, (just) put it out there and let him go get it.
He is a guy that is a worker. His work ethic along with his speed may be his biggest asset. He’s worked hard in his time here to put on some size and some strength.”

With Boise State on the schedule to open the season and Maxwell almost certainly getting his first start he talked about looking ahead to that game.  “I think it is exciting. Don’t think you could script a better opening game. It centers our focus as a team. They are a top 10 top 15 team in this country. For me to have my first start at Spartan stadium with them is a real honor.”

Mark Dantonio had some high praise for his LT Skyler Burkland. He said of the big youngster, “I consider him a starter right now.”

The Spartans have their sixth practice of the spring today. They will have numbers seven and eight on Thursday and Friday. Their ninth practice of the spring is on Saturday and it will also be the first scrimmage of the spring campaign.

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