Spartan Football Has Most Important Scrimmage of the Fall Today: Insight and Analysis!

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When you get a press release, the first thing you have to understand is that it is nothing less than an advertisement or a piece of promotional material. It doesn’t make it a bad thing, but it does mean that you have to take it for what it is worth.

Today, the Spartan Football team had their second and most important scrimmage of the fall. It happened at Spartan Stadium and FB Niko Palazeti called the outcome on Thursday saying humorously, “I don’t like the grading system in the scrimmage anyway. I think it’s all a conspiracy…I’m saying I like my offense chances…ever since I have been here defense has won the first scrimmage spring and fall.”

All of the stats are not released for the scrimmage in the official MSU Football release so you have to be careful of looking too deep at the things you don’t see.  For
example, you don’t know the situations that the offense and defense found themselves in or the position groups. In the past, not wanting a blowout, Dantonio has made “situations” that help one side or another. You have no clue if it wae first string vs. third or ones on ones. Because you don’t know, you have to simply take it and make your own assessment.

Dantonio admitted as much today when he was quoted as saying, “It was a competitive scrimmage, so I didn’t have to tweak the scoring and it helps build excitement. You can’t ask for a closer scrimmage because the outcome came down to the final two-minute drive. The offense had to convert a third-and-10 to keep that final drive alive and set up the field goal on the final play.”

Here are the official released stats for today’s situational scrimmage:

Stat Leaders

Rushing: Larry Caper 18-49 and one touchdown (1 yard)

Andrew Maxwell 13-of-24 for 212 yards and one touchdown (12 yards to Dion
Sims); Connor Cook 12-of-27 for 145 yards, one touchdown (7 yards to Macgarrett
Kings Jr.) and two interceptions; Tyler O’Connor 6-of-11 for 70 yards

Dion Sims 10-171 and one touchdown (12 yards); DeAnthony Arnett 3-63; Kyle
Kerrick 3-62; Bennie Fowler 3-35.

Arjen Colquhoun 5-2-7; Jamal Lyles 4-3-7 including a
half tackle for loss; TyQuan Hammock 4-3-7; Darqueze Dennard 5-1-6 including a
half tackle for loss and two pass break-ups; Ezra Robinson 5-0-5 including 3.0
tackles for loss (12 yards) and a 7-yard sack; Max Bullough 1-2-3 including 1.5
tackles for loss (8 yards), a 7-yard sack, and a fumble recovery; Mitchell
White with a 3-yard interception; Tyler Hoover with a 4-yard interception and a
pass break-up.

There are several names that don’t appear. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t play. Like Bell, they may have been held back or simply played a very limited amount of reps and didn’t get a chance to put up impressive stats. Dantonio said of Bell, “We held Le’Veon Bell out, but Larry Caper and Nick Hill both made some guys miss and got vertical. Their yards per carry might not look great, but I really liked the way they ran with toughness.”

I think a stat that stands out immediately to me is those of TE Dion Sims. 10 catches for 71 yards against this defense, regardless of what unit it was, is impressive.
He is a key factor to the Spartans having a successful campaign and this should make the Spartan Nation smile.

Andrew Maxwell was thrilled with the play of his TE saying, “Dion Sims is a key figure in our offense. When healthy, Dion can be a weapon for us. We’ve tried to get him the ball more during preseason camp. He can be a big factor in our offense because he can make plays down the field or take a short, dump pass, break a tackle andrun after the catch.”

Since the scrimmage was not open to the media and is essentially the last big scrimmage of the fall camp, I can tell you in the past Dantonio has held out or held back players who the team is already well aware of as far as talent and ability.

He admitted doing that today. “We’re so deep that we were able to hold some guys out and limit some other guys’ reps, and that’s a good sign. There were a lot of positives because guys made plays on both sides of the football and they all played fast.”

This scrimmage is a gigantic opportunity for young players on the cusp of serious playing time to make an impression. Come Monday, the team will begin to spend significantly more time working on Boise State.

Dantonio addressed the way camp changes after today saying, “We’re still in camp mode next week, so we’ll focus on the task at hand while looking forward a little. Some guys need to transition into becoming scout team players while understanding their role is just as important as being a first- or second-team guy. We also need to expose our first-year players to what the game-week practices look like, so they can become acclimated. It’s also important that our players get their legs back underneath them, so we’ll begin to tail things off toward the end of the week.”

Even Maxwell admitted that camp changes now. Instead of focusing on MSU, they start looking to the season. “Today’s scrimmage is really the last hurrah
of preseason camp, in terms of the offense and defense competing against each other. We got a lot of good work in on both sides of the ball these past two
weeks. Next week, we start gearing up to Week 1. We have a lot of work to do in a short period of time, but I’m sure we’ll be ready.”

Of course, any player can move up and down the depth chart all year, but it is certainly more difficult a task to accomplish after the first two weeks of the fall camp. It is MY OPINION that is why you see so many young players with leading stats. QB Connor Cook had two picks, but were they against the ones?

How long that first team defense was in wasn’t stated, but must be considered. MSU did say, “Max Bullough recovered a fumble and Tyler Hoover picked off a Connor Cook pass on a deflection.” That tells us he did get some reps against what many feel is the nation’s best D.

MSU said, “The defense, which won the first scrimmage last Sunday, 74-54, picked up right where it left off by jumping out to an 11-1 lead after only allowing one first
down in the first four series, capped by a Mitchell White blocked field goal.”

Maxwell’s numbers impressed me more when MSU said in their statement, “With the first-team offense taking on the first-team defense, Maxwell sealed the game by guiding his team on a 7-play, 51-yard drive, setting up Conroy’s 29-yard field goal on the final play of the afternoon to make the final 52-48 in favor of the offense. Maxwell was 3-of-4 passing for 46 yards on the drive, including a 23-yard completion to Bennie Fowler and an 18-yard strike to Sims.”

What matters is that the Spartan Nation knows this is a very talented team. VERY. It was expected long before today by more than Palazeti that the offense
would win. Even on our message board people called it. The most important issue is that it is now less than two weeks until MSU and Boise State strap it
up and get going.

I do not believe that Spartan Football would send out information that would deceive in a dishonest fashion, but you have to look at  I also know that Pat Narduzzi admitted this past week that he gave some praise to those of us in the media at the Outback Bowl about Micajah Reynolds that he hadn’t necessarily earned because, “I hoped that Georgia would read that.”

Dantonio did have high praise for the new video boards that were ramped up and going today. He said of the new video system, “As pleased as I am with the way the scrimmage went, I’m equally excited about the new video boards in Spartan Stadium. Those video boards are cutting edge and add a whole new dimension to the stadium experience. These high-def video boards bring the action right to you – it’s almost an interactive environment. It’s going to be exciting for our fans and players alike.”

Even Andrew Maxwell couldn’t help but comment about the boards when he said, “The video boards are pretty awesome. They bring a different feel to the stadium. The clarity of the picture is amazing. The play clocks are in different places, but they’ll help the quarterback because they’re big and bright. So now there’s really no excuse for taking a delay of game penalty. These video boards will definitely be a factor this year.”