Stanton, Warrick Share Headlines In First Spring Football Scrimmage

DenisePopiolek

EAST LANSING, Mich. - With temperatures in the 30s and wind chill readings in the 20s, fourth-year Michigan State head football coach John L. Smith sent his team through a 115-play "controlled" scrimmage in Spartan Stadium on Saturday, April 8. With eight of 15 allotted practices now in the books, the scrimmage marked the beginning of the second half of spring ball.

The first-team offense scored on four of its eight possessions.

"The first-team offense started out like gangbusters, scoring on its first two possessions," Coach Smith said. "After the early success, the first-team offense got complacent and failed to execute on its next two drives. We had too many missed assignments and too many dropped passes from our tight ends and wide outs.

"After a slow start, the defense came up with some stops, but those may have been the result of poor offensive execution. We simply have to get more from our defense. During the second half of spring ball, our top priority will be finding some playmakers on defense."

Veteran quarterback Drew Stanton (6-3, 230, Sr.) played 27 snaps with the first-team offense and directed three scoring drives in five possessions. Stanton completed 7-of-14 throws for 165 yards and two scores.

The first-team offense scored the first time it had the football as Stanton orchestrated a five-play, 70-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown. His 48-yard completion to Terry Love (5-11, 172, Jr.) set up a first-and-10 at the Green 11. Three plays later, Javon Ringer (5-9, 202, So.) scored on a 2-yard run up the middle.

On its second series, the first-team offense put together a five-play, 65-yard drive. Stanton's 30-yard strike to Matt Trannon (6-6, 227, Sr.) on a third-and-6 play set up his 28-yard TD toss to Love.

After failing to score on back-to-back possessions, Stanton managed his third scoring drive. Faced with third-and-15, he found Jerramy Scott (5-10, 186, Sr.) open deep for a 35-yard gain that resulted in a first-and-goal at the Green 5. Following a 5-yard penalty for illegal procedure, Love scored his second TD on a 10-yard grab from Stanton.

"With Drew Stanton in the lineup, the first-team offense moved the ball and put points on the board," Smith said. "Again, Drew made good decisions with the football and didn't force any throws. He's had a very good spring. I challenged him to go the entire spring without throwing an interception, and so far, he's been perfect."

Brian Hoyer (6-2, 210, So.) took 43 total snaps and completed 7-of-18 passes for 95 yards, one touchdown and one interception. During the second half of the scrimmage, Hoyer quarterbacked the first-team offense for three series, directing a five-play, 65-yard scoring drive. A 36-yard gallop by Jehuu Caulcrick (6-0, 245, Jr.) set up a first-and-goal at the Green 9. Two plays later, Hoyer fired an 8-yard TD strike to Trannon.

Red-shirt freshman Domenic Natale (6-1, 196) played 39 total snaps while seeing action with both the second- and third-team units. Natale hit 6-of-11 passes for 32 yards.

Love had a scrimmage-best four receptions for 93 yards as 12 different receivers caught at least one pass. Trannon had three catches for 43 yards.

"Matt Trannon made some plays early in the scrimmage," Smith said. "We hope he becomes a go-to guy. Matt's play has been a pleasant surprise this spring. He's running better routes, showing more speed and most importantly, playing with greater confidence."

Back-up running backs A.J. Jimmerson (5-10, 210, R-Fr.) and Brett Kahn (5-9, 175, Jr.) got the bulk of the carries, combining to rush for 78 yards on 30 attempts. Jimmerson picked up 41 yards on 17 carries, while Kahn added 37 yards on 13 attempts. Caulcrick rushed six times for 40 yards, while Ringer gained 25 yards on five carries.

Strong safety Nehemiah Warrick (6-1, 204, Jr.) recorded a scrimmage-best eight tackles, an interception and a pass break-up. Red-shirt freshman linebacker Adam Decker (6-2, 240) produced six tackles, including two for losses (3 yards), while sophomore defensive end Brandon Long (6-4, 237)
posted five stops, including two behind the line of scrimmage (14 yards). Strong safety Mike Bell (5-11, 186, Jr.), linebacker Andrew Hawken (6-2, 234, R-Fr.) and linebacker Eric Gordon (6-0, 217, Fr.) each made five tackles.

"I wish everybody on defense played like Nehemiah Warrick," Smith said. "He plays with an attitude and abandon. Nemo has great range from the middle of the field, and he's always looking to make a hit. I hope his attitude becomes infectious."

Michigan State has three workouts scheduled prior to next Saturday's (April 15) open practice at 12 p.m. EDT in Spartan Stadium, weather permitting. Admission is free and gates will open at 10:30 a.m. Following the practice, children - ages 12-and-under and accompanied by a parent - will be permitted
on the field for a 60-minute autograph session with Spartan players and coaches. Fans are reminded that all cameras, camcorders and cell phones are strictly prohibited during an open practice.

"Next Saturday, I expect to see the entire defense play with an attitude and abandon, not just one player," Smith said. "We have to develop that attitude because we simply aren't talented enough on defense to go through the motions. We have to play with abandon and start hitting and punishing
people.

"Offensively, I'm looking for a greater sense of urgency and sharper execution. The tight ends and wide outs need to eliminate the dropped passes, so the offense can move the chains."

Additional Spring Football Notes/Quick Hitters From John L. Smith:

. Defensive tackle Ogemdi Nwagbuo (6-4, 304, Jr.), a transfer from Southwestern College, contributed three tackles during the first spring scrimmage, including one that resulted in a 2-yard loss.

"O.G. can be a force inside," Smith said. "He's still thinking too much, instead of just reacting. O.G. is concentrating on alignments and assignments, so it isn't natural for him to play the game full speed yet. He 's a big, strong guy inside that can really push the pocket. O.G. continues to improve each and every practice."

Eric Andino (6-4, 238, Jr.), who made the switch from linebacker to tight end during Thursday's practice, caught two passes for 17 yards in the first spring scrimmage.

"Eric Andino might be able to help us at tight end," Smith said. "We haven't given up on him as a defensive player, perhaps as a defensive end, but we want to take a look at him at tight end first.

"For his second practice at the position, Eric did a nice job. He did an adequate job as both a blocker and pass catcher."

Fans also are invited to attend the final spring scrimmage, scheduled for Friday, April 21 at 3:30 p.m. in Spartan Stadium, weather permitting. Admission is free and gates will open at 2:30 p.m.

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