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August 15, 2011

Adreian Payne -- dual-threat QB (and other morning practice tidbits)

JUST KIDDING on Payne, but he did look like an intriguing prospect this morning, throwing the ball around with Dane Fife as Dwayne Stephens looked on and Tom Izzo gave a pep talk to the football team.

    Izzo's talk was on "faith and belief," Mark Dantonio said, and Dantonio definitely saw some of that togetherness and emotion erode late in Saturday's scrimmage as fatigue took hold.

    “When your conditioning goes, emotionally you go as well," Dantonio said. "That’s what I saw. If there’s anything I was disappointed in, it was the conditioning aspect and the emotional aspect as the scrimmage wore on. When you didn’t have success, how we handled ourselves. Because you have to keep that belief moving with each other regardless of the situation. We didn’t see that, I think it was because we were tired.”

    A year ago, MSU did not have a scrimmage on the first Saturday after camp because of injuries. Dantonio went ahead this year and wasn't shocked that he saw performance tail off late. He said MSU has been giving equal reps to 1s, 2s and 3s early, but that the 1s and 2s need to start stringing together six to 10 plays in a row rather than three or four, to condition them for this kind of thing -- despite the injury risk that comes with it.

    “The defense started very fast, played very well early in the scrimmage, and then they tapered off," Dantonio said. "I thought the offense maybe got handled a little bit early in the scrimmage, but as the scrimmage went on they got stronger. So when you’re sitting in this position, sometimes you come out of it feeling like ‘We need to do better at this, better at that.’ But after watching the film, what you see is guys getting a little bit tired. But we haven’t put them in a situation where they have to play 12 straight plays, those types of things. So that’s to come this week where they have to maintain what they do over the course of a series.”

    Other Dantonio thoughts on the scrimmage:

    * Will Gholston: “William’s one of the guys I thought played very well and then sort of faded a little bit to be honest with you. And he needs to be able to play at a more consistent level throughout the scrimmage. But that’s normal when you have a long scrimmage, and as the scrimmage goes on I think you have to condition yourself. It’s one thing to run 17 intervals, which we did the other day. It’s another thing to come back and play 12, 15 straight plays. Completely different conditioning.”

    * Was there progress on the offensive line?

    “I think there was. I think Skyler’s playing pretty well. You see Fou getting in there with the 2s and learning what’s going on. I think Dan France is playing pretty well.”

    Dantonio also said Travis Jackson and Blake Treadwell remain locked in a tight competition at center.

    * The freshman linebackers: “The freshmen, they look like freshmen. They’re overloaded on what to do. Ed Davis I thought performed very well in the scrimmage in terms of running and hitting and flying around. I felt the same with Taiwan Jones. They ran around, they hit people. They’ve just got to learn what to do on a more consistent basis. That comes with time. You’ve got one defense, one coverage, but they may see a multitude of formations, multitude of plays. So when you’re doing that, you just compound the different things. When you’re seeing those plays against the multiple defenses, you know it gets involved for them."

    * Nick Hill: “Is he the fourth, is he the third, is he the second? He’s a good football player and he makes plays. He’s an electrifying runner. He’s just in a position where there’s depth there right now, but he can make plays. No question about that. You see him maybe as a return man but you also have Keshawn Martin back there. But Nick Hill’s had a very good summer camp so far. ... He’s got a burst, he’s tough, he runs through blockers. For his size he’s very powerful. And he can make you miss in space. He’s very confident as well.”

    * New secondary starters Isaiah Lewis and Darqueze Dennard: “Very good players. Isaiah Lewis is a very, very good player, great hitter. Both exciting players."

    Johnny Adams and Tony Lippett missed the scrimmage with minor ankle injuries, which gave opportunity to some young reserves. It sounds like Jeremy Langford took advantage.      
    “There’s a guy that played probably 70 plays in the scrimmage, and the conditioning factor will wear you down," Dantonio said. "But when he’s fresh and gets his hands on you, he’s 205 pounds, a 10.7 100-meter guy and he’s physical. So it looks like he’s found himself a position. He should do very well, I’d say right now he’s the fourth or fifth corner.”

    * The quarterbacks: “The first series, Kirk threw an interception. Good coverage downfield, good pressure. Other than that, he played very, very well. Get in a two-minute situation, can’t take a sack as a quarterback. Both of them (Cousins and Maxwell) did that. Somehow, some way you’ve got to get out of trouble or throw it away. He can’t take a sack at the end. But nice defensive plays. But other than that, I thought he played very well.”

    Speaking of Cousins, Dantonio was asked about comments last week from Tony Banks, the former MSU quarterback and new BTN analyst. Banks broke down Cousins' game for the Detroit Free Press and said, among other things, that he needs to be more "courageous" in the pocket.

    “Well you know, I like Tony," Dantonio said. "I thought he was a great player here, I really like him as a person. But when you look at Kirk Cousins – first of all I think (Banks’) statement has maybe been taken out of context a little bit. I think he was trying to probably, just like everybody, give an adjective to describe something he wants to talk about, where (Cousins) can get better. And so maybe it comes off in a negative respect. But Kirk Cousins has always been very courageous here and he’s a leader on this football team and he does an outstanding job. So it’s no big deal.”

    More on that whole thing at some point this week.

    UPDATE: Dion Sims speaks on his second chance.



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Joe Rexrode
MSU Sports Reporter

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