Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio knows what he’s looking for Saturday when his squad battles in the second jersey scrimmage of the spring.
"We're looking for improvement as always," said Dantonio. "Like I talked about after the last scrimmage, we're looking for consistency and performance. We're looking for our guys to raise their play to another level and get better as we go.
"The goal is always to be 15 for 15 at spring practice, and I think if you're doing that, you're getting better."
Senior quarterback Andrew Maxwell knows Saturday will give the offense a chance to show signs of moving forward.
"Going into the second scrimmage, we're looking for a lot of carryover," said Maxwell, who threw for three touchdowns and 187 yards in the first scrimmage last Friday. "Looking at the film from last scrimmage, there's a lot of things we can clean up - but all fixable stuff. So this week, we focused on a lot of fundamentals and a lot of getting back to the basics and details at practice. We're looking to build on the good things we did last week."
One development fans will be looking for more details on following Saturday’s scrimmage is news red-shirt freshman Riley Bullough has been taking reps at running back.
"A lot of times when we were getting ready for somebody else, we put people in those positions that sort of simulate an opposing player," remarked Dantonio. "We had Riley at tailback last year getting ready for Iowa. He was pretty impressive, so I thought let's see what he can do. He'll get some reps in the scrimmage, and we'll see how he looks."
As Spartan fans know, it’s not about speed at the running back position and Dantonio believes Bullough has the main ingredient he’s looking for.
"He's got good feet in the hole and he's powerful," said Dantonio. "He's 230-plus pounds, and he can move the pile. You've got to get positive yardage; that's what he's done. I think he's got a good football IQ, and that's so important, especially if you're going to play a couple of different positions. We're not going to move him from the linebacker position, but we're going to experiment with him on the offensive side of the ball."
Bullough is no stranger to the offensive side of the ball having played quarterback during his high school days at St. Francis High School in Traverse City, Mich.
While the Spartans still have questions at running back, it looks as if there is no shortage of players ready to step up and help the Spartans at defensive tackle as Tyler Hoover, James Kittredge, Micajah Reynolds and Lawrence Thomas have all stepped up. Dantonio praised the spring Thomas has had so far.
"I think we're pretty deep at defensive tackle," said Dantonio. "Lawrence Thomas is having a good spring, he's very active. He's 300-plus pounds right now and he can move. Very athletic...but he's got to take that next step as well."
Missing Saturday’s scrimmage will be first-team All-Big Ten cornerback Darqueze Dennard who will be held out of contact drills the rest of the spring with a sports hernia.