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August 22, 2011

Dantonio on scrimmage, freshmen, more

If you're looking for conclusive statements on any position battles, forget it. "I’m not gonna make those statements, really, until we’re about to play the game," Mark Dantonio said today at practice. "I think we’re jumping to conclusions sometimes. We’ve talked about the guys who are competing for the positions, but to me we still have a week to go here. We’ll come back next week and sort of solidify where we’re at at the end of that. I think that’s the fair thing to do.”

    There is one development, though, in the battle at center -- Travis Jackson is now dealing with an ankle injury.

    “Travis might have a little bit of an ankle right now, but he’ll be OK," Dantonio said. "So those two guys, Travis has played pretty well and I thought Blake came in there and played well yesterday (during the scrimmage).”

    * Speaking of the scrimmage, my first question was, how did that offensive line play?

    “We had too many false starts," Dantonio said. "That would be the only thing that, what we try and do is weight these penalties relative to the scrimmage. So that hurt them, that set them back a couple times. But as far as the play itself, I thought it was OK. We’ve got some young players up there playing and they’re gonna make some mistakes. But they’re athletic and they continue to grow every time we have a scrimmage. Or every time we have a game, they’ll grow.”

    * As for the dropped passes, Dantonio said wind played a big factor. Here's what he said about the quarterback play: “I thought Cousins played pretty well, Maxwell probably didn’t play as well as he had earlier. But he’s had good summer practices. But I thought Kirk played very well. He had some drops but again, the wind was blowing all over the place out there yesterday.”

    * Defensively, Dantonio listed Max Bullough, Darqueze Dennard and Marcus Rush off the top of his head as guys who stood out.

    “Looking at the film I always try and evaluate the toughness and the effort in terms of what we’re trying to do," he said. "Are people being selfish or is everybody all in? And I really feel like, again, we still have great chemistry on this football team. They’re playing extremely hard and playing with toughness.”

    As for the defensive line, he said: “They looked good. I thought Jerel played very well and Rashad played very well. Our ends, Rush, Gholston had a good day as well. Corey Freeman got back into the mix a little bit, he did some good things. Shilique Calhoun is a freshman that continues to impress. I don’t know whether we’ll redshirt him or what’s gonna happen because of the depth.”

    * Speaking of that, Dantonio went through his very short list of freshmen who have a chance to be in the two deep when that first depth chart is released on Aug. 30. He mentioned RJ Williamson at safety, Calhoun on the defensive line, and Ed Davis and Taiwan Jones at linebacker. That's it.

    “Ed Davis has played well," Dantonio said. "Whether he’ll be in the two deep or not remains to be seen, but he’ll run and hit you. Much like Greg Jones did when he was a freshman. We’re just a little farther along maybe with the program a little bit right now, in terms of what we’re doing.”

    One guy who looks more and more like a redshirt candidate is Lawrence Thomas, who still isn't back from  his shoulder injury suffered in the first week of camp. Dantonio isn't ruling Thomas out as a 2011 contributor, but that's a lot of valuable reps he won't get back.

    “You don’t really want to play a guy just to put him in the game and say, ‘Hey, you’ve played.’ He’s too good of a player and too valuable a commodity to waste," Dantonio said of Thomas. "So when he’s ready to play, if that’s the third game, he’ll play. If it’s not until next year, then that’s what we’ll do. It really depends on how well he’s able to grasp what we’re doing and then get the reps to move in that direction.”

    * Brad Sonntag looks solid as the holder for this team. Dantonio said Matt Giampapa and Steve Moore are continuing to battle for snapping duties, and that both will probably snap in games to decide things.

    * MSU will start getting into Youngstown State this week. Captains will be announced, MSU will have a rehearsal scrimmage and camp will break on Thursday. Then the players get two days off and are back Sunday to get ready for the opener.


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Joe Rexrode
MSU Sports Reporter

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