MSU scrimmage: Defense dominates offense
Will Gholston and Joel Heath each had two sacks, Johnny Adams had two picks -- one returned for a touchdown -- and the MSU defense won the green jerseys with a 72-32 domination of the offense in the first scrimmage of the spring.
EAST LANSING -- The Michigan State football team held its first jersey scrimmage of spring practice Saturday in Spartan Stadium. Utilizing a modified scoring system, the defense came away with a 72-32 victory over the offense in a "situational" scrimmage.
Michigan State's defense, ranked No. 1 in the Big Ten last season, picked up right where it left off in the Outback Bowl with 14 tackles for loss (71 yards), including 10 sacks (78 yards), and three interceptions.
Junior defensive end William Gholston led the way with two sacks (19 yards) and had five tackles overall, while red-shirt freshman defensive end Joel Heath also posted two sacks (11 yards), including one for a safety.
Senior cornerback Johnny Adams recorded two interceptions and ended the scrimmage by running his second pick back 41 yards for a touchdown. Junior safety Isaiah Lewis also had an interception that resulted in a 33-yard return.
Other Spartans to collect sacks included Trae Waynes, Jeremy Gainer, Max Bullough, Mitchell White, Taiwan Jones and Kyler Elsworth. Junior linebacker TyQuan Hammock led the defense with nine tackles, including 1.5 for losses (1 yards), while Waynes had six tackles. Red-shirt freshman safety RJ Williamson made five tackles, broke up a pass, and recovered a fumble.
Offensively, junior running back Le'Veon Bell paced the ground attack with 49 yards on 12 carries (4.1 avg.).
Junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell went 6-of-11 passing for 57 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He threw an 18-yard touchdown strike to red-shirt freshman wide receiver Andre Sims Jr. for the only offensive TD of the scrimmage.
Red-shirt freshman quarterback Connor Cook completed 9 of his 14 passes for 76 yards and one interception.
Ten different Spartans caught at least one pass in the scrimmage, led by John Jakubik (four catches for 30 yards), DeAnthony Arnett (three for 22 yards) and Jeremy Langford (three for 19 yards). In addition to his 18-yard TD reception, Sims had a 10-yard catch and finished with two receptions for 28 yards. Junior tight end Denzel Drone had the longest catch of the day with a 19-yard reception from Cook.
Michigan State will resume spring practice on Tuesday, April 17.
First Spring Scrimmage Recap
Time elapsed: 1:40 (104 total plays)
Rushing: Le'Veon Bell 12-49.
Passing: Andrew Maxwell 6-of-11 for 57 yards, one touchdown (18 yards to Andre Sims Jr.) and two interceptions; Connor Cook 9-of-14 for 76 yards and one interception.
Receiving: John Jakubik 4-30; DeAnthony Arnett 3-22; Jeremy Langford 3-19; Andre Sims Jr. 2-28.
Defense (solos-assists-total): TyQuan Hammock 1-8-9 including 1.5 tackles for loss (1 yard); Trae Waynes 4-2-6 including one sack (5 yards); William Gholston 2-3-5 including two sacks (19 yards); RJ Williamson 3-2-5 including one pass break-up and a fumble recovery; Joel Heath 2-1-3 including two sacks (11 yards); Johnny Adams two interceptions for 41 yards and one touchdown; Isaiah Lewis one interception for 33 yards.
Mark Dantonio post-scrimmage quotes:
"Defensively, we played very well last year and I think we picked up where we left off. We applied pressure to the quarterback, stopped the run, and came away with turnovers. When those things happen, it's tough to lose a scrimmage. From an offensive standpoint, we made some plays, but consistently, you can't turn the ball over. The defensive was impressive."
On William Gholston, Johnny Adams, and the defense . . .
"Both those guys (William Gholston and Johnny Adams) were great players for us last year, and they just continue on. We're going into practice No. 10 next (Tuesday), and we have three more next week, so it's important that we continue to improve as players and as a team, and continue to work in different situations.
"If you look at our defense, and it's hard as a head coach I guess because you have to try and look at both sides, but if you look at our defense, you have to be very, very pleased with how we played. Offensively, you can't give up sacks and you can't turn it over. Those were things we were able to do last year on defense, and that's why we were what we were on defense last year. But our offense will bounce back."
On the young defensive players, specifically Joel Heath, who had two sacks . . .
"Joel Heath is a very good player; he's really a carbon copy of Gholston when you look at him size wise (Heath: 6-6, 277 pounds)...It's important for our young guys to continue to improve because it's their first opportunity this spring. There's a lot of football they have to play before they get ready for a season next year. So it's important we continue to press that issue."
On the wide receivers . . .
"Jeremy Langford had a good scrimmage and a real good practice the other day (Thursday) in the passing game. It's a learning progression because we just moved him a couple of days ago. The wide receiver position continues to be a position where we have to stay healthy, and we have to bring our young players along. But we have guys that can make some plays. Keith Mumphery has been impressive and has been an improved player as well."