EAST LANSING - Junior college transfer Jonal St. Dic recorded five tackles, including two sacks in Michigan State's first preseason football scrimmage today.
Junior quarterback Drew Stanton participated in just 12 snaps but still got the Green-and-White into the end zone. Stanton hooked up with MSU's leading receiver from a season ago, Jerramy Scott on a 43-yarder that set up Jason Teague's four-yard touchdown run.
Jehuu Caulcrick led all rushers with 80 yards on just six carries, including a 51-yard jaunt that set up a touchdown while freshmen A.J. Jimmerson (63 yards, 13 carries) and Javon Ringer (48 yards on 10 attempts) showed that MSU will have depth at the position, as the two chipped in for a combined for 111 yards.
But it was Saint-Dic who surprised observers with his performance and drew praise from head coach John L. Smith. "Jonal Saint-Dic's motor is running all the time," said coach Smith. "He has only one switch and that's on. Jonal did a good job and made several big plays behind the line of scrimmage.
If Saint-Dic can continue his production, he has a shot, not only at getting into the playing group, but perhaps at a starting position.
Sophomore Brian Hoyer appears to have solidified his hold on the backup quarterback position with a good showing today. Going 4-of-8 for 33 yards and leading the team on two scoring drives, one a touchdown run from reserve running back Brett Kahn (15-yarder) and a John Goss field goal.
Goss, another junior college transfer from Scottsdale, AZ, finds himself in a pitched battle for the placekicking job with junior Kyle Mayer(6-foot-1, 261-pounds)of Grand Haven, MI.
Smith likes Mayer's strong leg and his accuracy. Smith said the job is still open.
"John [Goss] came in and stubbed his toe a little, struggling with his accuracy. I brought Kyle in for four long ones, and he was perfect. He gets the ball off quickly and with some lift. This competition will continue on the practice field.
"I feel good about our kickoff situation," Smith continued. "John has shown a big enough leg to put the ball out of the end zone. And when he kicks off, Brandon Fields can get the ball into the end zone. I wasn't pleased with Brandon's punting in the scrimmage, but he's been hitting the ball great in practice."
A couple of youngsters, redshirt freshman Justin Kershaw and true freshman Adam Decker got into the mix, both recording interceptions of fellow freshman Dominic Natale.
There were also signs that the Spartans could still retain some of their explosiveness on special teams when bandit Sir Darean Adams returned a kick 57-yards. Smith said special teams will remain a focal point of the State attack.
"We need to spend a lot more time working with the kickoff return team, because we're not where we want to be yet," Smith said. "We lost the entire back row from last year, so we're breaking in all new guys there. The keys to developing productive kickoff returns are timing and taking proper angles. If a guy misses a block, he still needs to make sure that he's funneling his opponent in the right direction. It's going to take some work, but we're going to be productive in this facet of the game.
INSIDE SLANT: MSU will continue alternating double and single sessions of practice to comply with NCAA rules. The Spartans will not practice this Saturday to take part in the annual "Meet the Spartans" autograph and photo session at Meridian Mall in Okemos.
MSU's opener against Kent State will be televised on ESPN Plus in the Metro Detroit area. The game will kickoff a 12:00 noon.
Redshirt freshman Tom Kaczmarek will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his knee and is expected to be out 2-3 weeks.
MSU's athletic department reports that they have sold 58,270 season tickets for the 2005 schedule including nearly 11,000 student tickets.