East Lansing, Mich. — Even though the calendars says the date is April 28th, there definitely was a fall feeling in the air, as the Michigan State Spartans held their annual Green-White game in which the white team won 14-2.
While the game had a fall feeling to it, the play was far from what is expected of the Spartans come the beginning of the season.
Most of that was due to injury, and inexperience at several positions.
With the absence of starting quarterback Andrew Maxwell, who didn’t play due to a sprained knee, redshirt freshman quarterback Connor Cook took the majority of the snaps for both of the teams.
Cook went a total of 20 for 45 for 294-yards, with one touchdown (on white team) and one interception (on green team). The redshirt freshman missed on a lot of throws and held on to the ball a little too long at times, but the main thing for Cook to get out of this game was the experience.
“You gotta take advantage of it,” Cook said. “Stuff like this really doesn’t happen too often”
Cook also added that Andrew Maxwell has helped him a lot in both practice and scrimmages in the past couple of weeks.
“He was basically another coach today,” he said. “He was giving me the signals, I would come off the sideline and he’d help me with my reads. Anything I didn’t see on the field he’d tell me what he saw.”
While on the green team, Cook found himself under a lot of pressure due to the fact that the white team’s defense had several starters on their side of the ball.
Denicos Allen had 7 tackles, Marcus Rush had 5 tackles and 2.5 “sacks”, Max Bullough had 4 tackles, and Tyler Hoover had 3 tackles.
Michigan State’s top DB, Johnny Adams, not only had two tackles, but he had one catch for 45-yards.
The MSU coaches said that Adams could possibly see time on both sides of the ball this season, and wide receiver coach Terrence Samuel said that he is keeping that in his “back pocket.”
MSU running back’s Le’Veon Bell and Larry Caper saw very minimal time in the scrimmage. Caper got a little rattled early in the game, but Dantonio said afterwards that Caper is fine.
Redshirt freshman running back Nick Hill took advantage of this opportunity and had a pretty solid game.
Hill ran for for 95-yards on 19 carries including a 32-yard touchdown run that was reminiscent of former Spartan tailback Javon Ringer.
Aside from Hill’s play on the offensive side of the ball, TE Dion Sims was very impressive, as he had four catches for 73-yards. Receiver Keith Mumphery also had a good showing, having two catches for 68-yards.
While the Spartans showed glimpses of excitement and promise, there was a sudden worry hovering over Spartan Stadium, as a star defender went down.
DE William Gholston, who tallied a safety which was the only score for the green team, injured his right knee in the game, but was able to walk-off of the field on his own power. Coach Dantonio said that Gholston just bruised the right knee, and that he should be fine.
All in all, the Spartans basically showed the public what many already knew to be true. They showed that they had a defense that will potentially be one of the dominant defenses in the country, and they showed that they have an inexperienced offense that really has no cohesiveness at this point in the off-season.
While obviously they were without the team’s starting quarterback and running back, played one series, they looked like this could be more of a pretender year, than a contender year.
With a new quarterback and inexperienced receiving core, I don’t see MSU scoring very many points this seaso, and I’m not sure if the defense is really that good. Obviously, I will need to see a lot more from this team before I make any permanent predictions, but this year could be an up-and-down season for the Spartans.
The receiver position for MSU will be the huge question mark heading into the season, as they have no clear-cut starters, and there is no certainty that Tennessee transfer DeAnthony Arnett will play this upcoming season.
The Spartans need to find stability at the receiver position so that Andrew Maxwell, when he comes back healthy, will get into a rhythm with these guys and try to develop the relationship that Kirk Cousins had with his receivers just a year ago.
There really wasn’t too much to take out of this game, due to the fact that the offense was missing key players, besides the fact that the defense, potentially, could be on of the best in the country.
It will be interesting to see the steps this offense will take from this point forward. The ex-factor for the Spartans offense this season I believe will be Bennie Fowler, who played minimal today, a receiver that has shown flashes of excellence in a few games last season. If he can blossom into that #1 option, it will really make life easier for Andrew Maxwell.