Mark Dantonio Takes You Inside Spartan Football Prior to the Spring Game!

A: Going into practice 13. I said to our players today that this was the time when you start to gain ground. You gotta finish and sometimes that’s not as easy to do as it is to just say it. We gotta have a great practice today and complete our circles here.

Q: What do you need to get done this week leading into Saturday?

A: There’s all kinds of different situations we continue to work on daily, that we just sort of check off. There’s a couple different things that we’ll do today that we haven’t done all spring. And I think that’s the beauty of spring practice. You have an opportunity to work on different aspects of the football game itself and the formations you would see or the situations you would see. We’ve got a couple that we haven’t done yet so we’ll explore those opportunities.

Q: You’re big on energy. How does the team respond when Riley steps in there, like in scrimmages or plays?

A: Offensively, they seem to, at least at that point of the scrimmage they seem to grow a little bit. It intensifies. I thought it was a great scrimmage. The best scrimmage we’ve had here probably since some time last year. Offense won it at the end. You could make a case of going either way, usually that’s the way things go. But it was 1’s vs. 1’s, 2’s vs. 2’s and 3’s vs. 3’s. The 3’s didn’t count the scoring. It went down to the end, just like you like it. You’re always looking for people to compete but it wasn’t set up that way.

Q: Is Andrew separating himself?

A: Andrew had a great scrimmage. The part that I was very impressed with Andrew Maxwell the other day was that he got knocked down numerous times with one big hit. I don’t like having the quarterback live, I’ve said that. But there has to be growth and in order for there to be growth sometimes you’ve got to have difficulty. He got back up, performed very well, took them down the field and scored on that game winning drive. He needed to score a touchdown to win it.

Q: With the squad being split in the scrimmage, Coach, is Maxwell at any greater risk if you make him live tonight?

A: We won’t be live in the scrimmage. In the spring game we won’t go live; not the last day of spring practice. So we’ll keep that normal like we’ve done. I really don’t think he’s at any more risk because I always say, Hey you’re active. You’re not live. So act as active but they won’t tackle down the field. If a quarterback had the football in the scramble, he was gonna get tackled. If he was in the pocket trying to get away he was gonna get tackled. And that’s about as real as you can make it. That’s difficult for me to do, but I felt like if we were gonna grow as a football team that’s what we were gonna have to do. Our quarterbacks have to be able to create.

Q: Will all the quarterbacks then be protected as non-contact in the green and white game?

A: At this point they will. But things are always subject to change.

Q: You mentioned him getting knocked down, Mark. Talk about the offense line, still has some guys out injured. Would you talk about their progression, maybe those guys that were getting some opportunities?

A: Yeah, you know we were missing 3 offensive linemen in the scrimmage. We held them out. But we’ve got numbers. Donavon Clark played pretty well. At the right tackle we had Fou, at the right guard we worked with Connor Kruse and he did okay, and then Treadwell and Jackson played in there. They did some good things. But certainly we were missing… We’ve got 4 other guys that could be in and out of there as well. So we’ve got some depth at that position and that depth needs to show next year. I think the quarterback was getting knocked down sometimes relative to blitzes, where he was having to throw hot and things of that nature as well. So many times it’s either a back or a tight end having to block edge blitzers or things like that too. So that’s all a part of it.

Q: When you say 3 linemen now, are you including Jack Allen in that number? Or is it 3 additional?

A: There was 3 additional for the scrimmage, nicked up. Not out out, just nicked up.

Q: What was it about the scrimmage that made it the best that you’ve had here in years?

A: It was intense. Guys were going after it. It was colder, so initially you wanted to stay inside or whatever or make it a little bit more controlled. But we went out. So we played in the weather. I just think it was intensity. It was the intensity and the way that people played. I thought our offense did some good things. But it was a physical scrimmage. It wasn’t a finesse type scrimmage, it was a physical scrimmage. At the same time, I thought the throwing that was done was done pretty well. And then on the back end, on the other side of the ball, I thought our defense played pretty well as well at times. Very well at times. As usual. When they go out they’re not playing against a defense that’s gonna be vanilla. I don’t say, Hey you can’t blitz them. I don’t sit there and say you gotta play base defense. I don’t set it up for either side. I set it up for that side to compete to win. That’s the way it’s always done here, and that’s the way we’ll usually continue to do it.

Q: Why is it that you and the staff and the players every year… The highlight of spring is the kids clinic. What is it about that that you think connects so well with the fan base and with your staff and players?

A: You take this deal in the indoor facility, you’ll have 800-1,000 young people out here probably. Young people are so excitable and that enthusiasm I think rubs off on everybody that’s here. Whether you’re a parent or a coach or a player or anybody working or being around our young people. I think it rubs off on everybody.

Q: Are you looking forward to the spring draft and where these guys rank each other?

A: Well, we have a larger senior class so if you take a senior like Max Bullough at the mike, the other mike’s gonna go to the other team. So you’re gonna split up 30 guys or 36 guys right off the bat. So it’s gonna be a little watered down in terms of the draft. It’s always interesting how they pick them. But everybody’s got their ideas of who should be playing sometimes or who should be in the mix. And that’s good to see.

Q: Is it true that AJ Troup has impressed this spring?

A: AJ has done some good things. He’s a big bodied wide receiver. He’s caught the ball well, he runs well. He’s getting in the mix some. He’s making plays and the plays that he’s made have been against the 2’s, so it’s been impressive.

Q: Talk about full back. Is there any separation, anybody distinguishing themselves, or is it still…

A: Trevon Pendleton is the F right now. Palazeti’s been out for the entire spring. So we’re in and out of different personnel groupings.

Q: Has Nick Hill gotten much done this spring and what kind of progress has he made?

A: Nick had a good scrimmage. He’s a competitor. We need somebody to compliment our other tailbacks. We need a guy to compliment, a Riley Bullough to compliment, or another bigger back, to compliment a Jeremy Langford and/or Nick Hill. But Nick’s done some good things. He’s quick, he’s explosive. But you gotta get the tough yard at times. So you gotta have different guys.

Q: Will there be anybody else that you’ll try there before … Will it be in the fall drills or this week or…

A: It’s tough to say. At spring game, anybody can play anywhere.

Q: Your reaction to the tragedy in Boston yesterday?

A: I was sitting with my staff right when it hit. It’s a tragedy for all of us. Our thoughts and our prayers go out to the people that are involved in that. A terrible thing. Just another example of how life can turn so quickly for people. I think that’s the society we’re living in today. That’s the world we live in. And it’s tough to deal with sometimes. But America pushes through; they go on. But for all the people who lost people or who are inured, your heart goes out to those people.

Q: Mike Sadler was recruited Alabama, LSU, USC as a kicker also. He kicks with the opposite leg that he punts. He had surgery over the spring on the non-punting, but the kicking knee. Will he get a chance when fully healthy maybe to place kick in the fall?

A: Yeah he will, but it’s a different stroke. At this point in time he really didn’t want to take the time to do this at this time. We need to find out who’s doing what on our end. We can’t split the reps. We recruited a kicker to come in and to be immediately competitive in the position as well. We wanted to see what Muma could do, wanted to see what the other two guys could do. I think we’re seeing that. They’re getting opportunities. Cronin’s been impressive. The other two need to be a little bit more consistent, but Cronin’s been impressive.

Q: Seems like Trae and Shilique have been comfortable in those other positions. What have you seen from them that you want them to hammer down in those two open spots?

A: They’re good football players. They’re active, they’re very talented, they’re very athletic. What’s exciting to me right now is they bring in the mindset, competitive mindset, that toughness aspect, that confident aspect.

Q: So that would hammer down those two spots going into fall?

A: Yes, it would.

About Hondo S. Carpenter Sr.

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Hondo S. Carpenter, Sr. is the founder and publisher of SpartanNation.com and all of the family of services. The idea was birthed when overseas he ran into a Spartan not native to the United States who was wearing his Green and White proudly. He is dedicated to bringing you the latest and greatest information about Michigan State and Detroit Sports News every day. He resides in the Mid Michigan area. Follow Hondo on twitter here: @hondocarpenter.


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