Michigan State began football practice today and here’s some of what Spartan coach Mark Dantonio had to say following Saturday morning’s session.
On what stood out:
Dantonio: “You watch your guys with retention, you watch the quarterbacks throw. I thought that Tyler O’Connor was sharp in the drills, you know Maxwell in the drills. I thought Connor Cook had a good two-minute series and took them down to score in a two-minute situation here on the first day of practice and they were crisp. We caught the ball pretty well. There were some drops and a few things like that but it’s the first day out. It’s just hard to really assess. What you look for is quickness and guys that are able to continue to play at a fast rate. That means they are in condition.
On a timetable to dwindle quarterback/running back competitions down:
Dantonio: “This is the first day of practice so we’ll allow them to compete. Every thing usually rises to the top and it becomes pretty clear as you move forward.”
On if he will pay more attention to those positions during his observations:
Dantonio: “I’m watching everybody. I’m trying to just be with the DBs, or go down and watch the D-line or be with the linebackers, go in and watch the receivers, watch the quarterbacks throw, go watch our running backs. Our running back situation is going to be interesting as well. We’ve got six guys out there, seven I guess, competing for that position. Watching the tight ends, O-line/D-line as well. I’m trying to get as much as I can get but then film takes over as well and what our coaches are saying as well.”
On the quarterbacks:
Dantonio: “We may make the quarterbacks live in a scrimmage. They need to go into the game understanding the reality of the situation. They’re gonna get nicked around out here a little bit. We’ve got depth at that position. I feel comfortable that they’re tough guys and they’re used to being hit now. We’ll see how it all shakes out. The number one goal here is to make sure we come out of camp healthy. We gotta manage that.”
On freshman athlete Delton Williams:
Dantonio: “I think we’ve gotta find out if he is going to play running back. That’s the most immediate need. Then from there, you make an evaluation on special teams and then linebacker if he is not playing on that side. He is a football player, but we want to find out what he can do. He’s got a 20 number on and he looks a little like (former Spartan running back) Le’Veon (Bell) when he runs through there. Now, that’s in shorts. It’s a big statement to make. I’m just saying physically – his size – he looks a little like Le’Veon.”
On throwing freshman kicker Michael Geiger into the fire:
Dantonio: “We did it today. I had him kick with the 1s today and he did a nice job. Unless you’re gonna stick him up there and pressure him, you’re never gonna know. That’s as big of a pressure as we can give him – us standing there and everybody watching. He did a nice job.”
On the hiring of Curtis Blackwell:
Dantonio: “I think he brings a whole list of people that are involved with him on a day-to-day level. Coaching Sound Mind, Sound Body and the things that he did there, which is a vast network of people, and also with his 7-on-7 connections and just his connections. He’ll serve as a guy when people come on campus here he’s gonna be valuable in terms of having relationships with them and talking with them. I also think in terms for the advancement of our players that are here, he’ll be heavily involved in that as well. And then the performance aspects, so camps and things like that. He’s just gotta get his feet on the ground here and getting things squared away. Very appreciative of our athletic administration creating this position for us. There’s a whole litany of things that he will be able to do and there’s things that he won’t be able to do.”
On upgrades to practice field
Dantonio: “You can see the tower, you can see the new field, our facilities, there’s no shortage of a conscious effort from our athletic administration to continue improve us in every way. We came out and talked to (athletic director) Mark Hollis about it and said ‘Hey we’ve got to get that turf field down this summer.’ And it was done. Same with the (video) tower. Same with the new facility across the street. Things are moving in the right direction. This is a great place to be, but that’s because of the people.”
On the importance of the upgrades
Dantonio: “We’re playing games on that surface and then we get limited going inside. We need an outside field turf. We need an outside field. We haven’t had it, we’ve existed without it, but sometimes we get thrown inside because of the wetness, especially in the spring. I wanted to make sure we had the opportunity to cross that bridge right now – to be able to be outside when its wet out in the fall, especially in November.”
On WR DeAnthony Arnett:
Dantonio: “It’s tough to say, we gotta let that play out. He caught the ball well today. It’s hard to assess people after one day in shorts. He had two or three catches in two minute and looked good.”
*** Michigan State landed its 14th recruit for its 2014 class today with the addition of defensive end Robert Bowers. Fellow 2014 recruit Matt Sokol tweeted about Bowers commitment during MSU’s morning practice.