The MSU Football team hit the field for the first practice of the fall today. The media had a chance to talk to Coach Dantonio and then watch the first 30 minutes of practice. Little did I know that when we were allowed to watch/film/take pictures that was only for the defense. I was kindly told that my video of a couple offensive plays better not make it anywhere. And I am a puss so I deleted it on the spot. I was honestly only using it to get pictures and figure out which QBs were in with which RBs but now we'll never know.
After that I switched my focus over to the defense. And let's face it, after the O-line that is where any questions and concerns are. The guys were just in shorts and no pads but the first thing I noticed was the size of everyone. And that's not just coming from a pedestrian walking in on a football practice. I'm used to watching these guys up close. Take the corners for instance: Johnny Adams is the "runt" of the group coming in at a listed 5-11, 175. I found myself glued to the corners for the majority of the time and I liked what I saw.
Tony Lippett is sure to be a name you hear more and more of as we get closer to the season. He is going to be playing both ways for MSU, but his priority will be CB over WR. Dantonio said about Lippett “Tony will start at corner, and then we’ll move him to the wide receiver position intermittently throughout practices. We think he has to get his feet on the ground at corner. We did that the opposite way last spring, so we’re just trying to make sure he gets an opportunity to learn the basics of the defense."
MSU needs somebody else to step up in the secondary. They return 2010 All-Big Ten Second Team corner Johnny Adams and safety Trenton Robinson but also lose two horribly overrated players in Chris L. Rucker and Marcus Hyde (also 2nd team All-Big Ten). I really like Johnny Adams, and Darqueze Dennard showed as a true freshman that he has the chops to hang. But they still need another corner. That's where Lippett could come in. Mitchell White and Dana Dixon will be in the mix with one of the three needing to step up to make me feel better about our chances.
Before I watched the DBs, I spent some time with the linebackers. I am thankful they handed out numerical rosters when we signed in. Outside of Chris Norman and Max Bullough I only knew who two others were without looking. I picked out Steve Gardiner right away because of his flowing ginger mane. The other player I knew was freshman Lawrence Thomas. Dantonio described Thomas as "carrying a little extra weight." Thomas is listed at 6-3, 275. And the intention is to keep him at linebacker!
When asked about possibly moving him to DE, Dantonio said "I think it could go any way. He’s a good football player, we’ve seen that. The biggest thing is getting guys on the field as quick as possible. We’ll see how it all shakes out. The first place for him is at linebacker, and we’ll see how he does." My biggest fear is that this turns into the William Gholston situation of last year where he can't figure out what position he is supposed to be until it's almost too late for him to be of any use this season. But it sounds like the bigger issue is getting him down to the right playing weight for him. If you looked at him you wouldn't think he's that big. He's built proportionately...proportionately HUGE. As we were leaving, Joe Rexrode from the Lansing State Journal and I were joking about his size and trying to think of someone comparable. I offered LaMarr Woodley who is listed at 6-2 265 to which Joe responded "Yeah but Woodley is all muscle."
I've said it before. I don't think the linebackers will be bad this year. Chris Norman should shine with his athleticism and Max Bullough could become a real leader as only a true sophomore. Just like at corner, the linebackers need one more guy to be able to step up and make plays. The fans will want to see the star recruit Thomas but I don't think he's going to be the third guy in that lineup. Look for Denicos Allen and Steve Gardiner (who was once compared to AJ Hawk...) to fill the position for now.
In other news for the first day DT Mark Scarpinato is coming back from shoulder surgery and DT/FB/G/whatever the hell position he doesn't suck at Antonio Jeremiah is not in camp while dealing with a knee injury. From Dantonio's tone about Jeremiah, I doubt that we'll be seeing him anytime soon.
Media Day is tomorrow so get ready for a lot from all the coaches and most of the marquee players.
As always, you can follow me personally on Twitter @ChatSportsEck for any updates and musings mostly on the sports world.Back to the Michigan State Spartans Newsfeed