Spartan Spring Football News and Notes

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Dantonio was all business as he kicked off spring ball.  Here he is (above) all smiles at the Green White game last season.  Photo courtesy of Starr Portice.

Dantonio was all business as he kicked off spring ball. Here he is (above) all smiles at the Green White game last season. Photo courtesy of Starr Portice.

Mark Dantonio stepped to the podium to open his spring football season and rather than reveling in his 2010 success, he attacked the 2011 season. “Our goal when we came here was to be Big Ten champs and go to a Rose Bowl. We’ve accomplished one of those.”

One of the many reasons to respect Dantonio is that he never runs from expectations. He could have set the tone in the room with a recap of 2010, but that isn’t what he's about. He followed that comment with, “Now we have to begin preparing for a Rose Bowl.”

Many thought MSU got robbed of a Rose Bowl last year by a system that allowed a Wisconsin team that had the same record as the Spartans.  The same Wisconsin team  MSU beat early in the Big Ten season.

Dantonio didn’t take the bait. He addressed the controversy by again doing something that many wouldn’t have expected. Rather than keep the Spartan Nation’s attention off the blow out loss to Alabama he brought it up. “We didn’t play well enough in our bowl game to warrant that question.”

Under Dantonio the Spartans have been to four straight bowls (all losses.)  He has taken a program that needed direction and he provided a strong hand. Even he couldn’t hide his own level of satisfaction.  “The foundation is laid.”

So what’s next? Dantonio preaches to his players that each and every practice is an effort to get 3% better.

Spring is a special time in college football. They experiment with new players at new positions and tinker with their system. MSU is coming off of an 11-win campaign, but they aren’t satisfied. Dantonio addressed the past season, “We are excited about the 11 wins and not to excited about the two losses.”

Here are some notes:

On William Gholston he said, “He will be functional,” coming off an injury. He expects him to be “100%” for the last three weeks of the spring. He did get a lot of attention when he said of his prize 2010 recruit, “At 275 pounds he should be a dominant player.”

On Tony Lippett (RS-freshman), another star 2010 recruit that had his teammates wowed with his abilities on the practice field, Dantonio said he would like to get him on the field for 40-50 plays a game this year. He will start with the offense, but the last three weeks of camp will compete on defense.

I asked DC Pat Narduzzi about Lippett playing with his guys the last three weeks. He said of his youngster and the potential of him competing with a smaller Johnny Adams, that he thought both Adams and Darqueze Dennard should be concerned. “He will be in the two deep without question. I can see him pushing both (Dennard and Adams). Both guys will be fighting for their life if Tony is there.”

TyQuan Hammock weighed as much as 255 pounds last year and was moved from LB to FB. According to Dantonio he is now down to 230 pounds and as Spartan Nation already reported prior to the start of spring, is back at LB.

With the moves of Dan France and Blake Treadwell to the OL, this is what spring is about: Experimentation and tinkering. If other players step up Dantonio will be able to move them both back to DL. I wouldn’t be shocked if they both are back on the DL in the fall. I would be shocked if both stay at OL.

Spartan Nation has talked throughout last fall about Skyler Schofner. This R-Fr OT is penciled in as the #1 RT and I expect him to hold down that spot for the next two seasons. After his sophomore season, he'll likely move to LT for his junior and senior years.  Dantonio commented on his freshman tackle briefly.  “He is everything you want as an offensive tackle.”

Pat Narduzzi said that this spring his defense has to get better at third and long situations. He set that as a key goal for this spring campaign.

I asked Dan Roushar how he would be different from former OC Don Treadwell. His answer should excite the Spartan Nation. He said he would be, “A little more down the field on the early downs in order to utilize what we have.” Many Spartan fans wanted MSU to see more passing on first down last year.  They were too predictable on first down.

Roushar also added, “I am going to coach the way I coach, I hope our offense takes on my personality.” Spartan fans will like Roushar’s more aggressive nature.