While it was no surprise in how well the Michigan State defense performed in the first jersey scrimmage of the preseason, Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio seemed happy with the way his offense took to the challenge.
“Andrew Maxwell looked sharp,” said Dantonio. “Connor Cook had his share of moments too. Tyler O’Connor looked good running the threes. The offense made some big plays, but for the most part the defense player pretty well.
“The offense scored two touchdown, one with the threes and the other with the twos in a 2-minute situation. The defense forced a couple of turnovers and won pretty handily.”
One area that impressed the Spartans head coach was how well several young players performed on defense. This should allow the staff to start putting the pieces of the puzzle together for the upcoming season.
"Our defensive front is strong,” said Dantonio. “We have several red-shirt freshmen on that second team that look pretty good. I also was impressed with the way our linebackers ran (to the football). Overall, I'm happy with the performance of our defense. Offensively, we have to be able to get into a rhythm and move the ball on a consistent basis. When evaluating things, there's always a little give and take (between the offense and defense). We definitely got a lot of work done out here today.
"We tried to get everybody in there today. We need to identify the guys that can step forward and contribute.
"It was important to see our freshmen (in action) and work with them, so we can see where they're at in the overall scheme of things. The ones, twos and threes all got a lot of reps.
One of those freshmen who continued to impress the Spartans coaching staff is Demetrious Cox.
“Demetrious Cox continues to improve,” said Dantonio. “He's put himself in a position to run with the twos. Demetrious is probably the one freshman that looks like he's ready to play.”
Despite some early setbacks, Dantonio was happy with the direction his team took in their first extended battle between the lines.
"There were a couple of penalties early on, but the rest of the scrimmage was pretty clean,” said Dantonio. “There weren't many center-quarterback exchange issues and there were only two turnovers in 150-plus plays. It was a good `situational' scrimmage, and tomorrow it will be a good learning tool when we watch the video. Our focus is to continue to improve.”
Going forward Dantonio expects his team to continue showing improvement and build towards the season opener against Boise State.
"We've covered a lot of ground in the first 10 practices,” said Dantonio. “We almost have the entire offense and defense installed, and we're trying to address every possible situation in practice. We've accomplished a lot in these first nine days of camp, but we a long way to go (before the season opener)."